Bridges to Nowhere – for now
THE LEWIS EATON PEDESTRIAN AND BICYCLE BRIDGE
The Lewis Eaton Bridge project began in 2007 and was designed to enable pedestrians and bicycles to cross the San Joaquin River at a location near Fresno west of Highway 41, which is known as “the Yosemite Freeway.” The bridge is part of the efforts of The San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust to conserve the river, rehabilitate the surrounding land in the 100-year flood plain, and connect the City of Fresno with Madera County. The commission for the project was awarded to landscape architects Patrick and Jane Miller of 2M Associates as the prime and architects and Endres Ware for the bridge design.
Visible from Highway 41 as well as from the Fresno and Madera County river bluffs, the bridge will be a landmark for the San Joaquin River Parkway. A multi-use trail located on or parallel to the existing vehicular access road parallel to the river will provide an entry to the bridge.
The soil characteristics of the site were a major challenge to the design process. Although the ground on the west bank is stable the landing is on an island that may wash out in heavy flooding. The dry riverbed is not suitable for a landing because of possible flooding and poor soil conditions.
The cables surrounding the bridge deck will provide a sense of enclosure and increase the deck’s stability. They will also create a “gateway” to views of the river by splaying down from the mast to the approach deck which passes under the it.
As the ramps descend from the mast to the ground, they will create a small area for people to gather in the tower’s shade .
Although Endres Ware and 2M Associates were commissioned to design the bridge and its surrounding landscape in 2010, a lengthy permit process of five years or more must be concluded before its construction begins. Although the design may change during the time required to gain final approval, one hopes the vision depicted in these images endures.