A special use permit to construct a covered, open-air pedestrian bridge on the University of Nevada, Reno campus was approved Wednesday by City Council members.
The bridge, or skyway, will be built over Ninth Street, spanning east of North Center Street and west of North Lake Street. It will connect the UNR Gateway Parking Garage to campus. Pedestrians will be able to access the bridge from the elevator in the garage.
The $33 million project is intended to provide a safer way for people to cross Ninth Street and to reduce pedestrian traffic on the street.
“We have all this new development on Ninth Street—dorms, a 900-stall parking garage,” said Angela Fuss, the city’s acting community development director. “There’s a lot of pedestrians crossing Ninth Street. Unless we put up some specific areas where we want pedestrians to cross, it becomes a nightmare. You have people crossing, cars crossing…”
General contractor Clark & Sullivan is expected to start work on the skyway in November and continue through March 2022, according to Francisco Navarro, WD Architecture & Engineering senior project manager.
“The curved-roof, covered walkway is reminiscent of historical railway bridges and provides protection from the elements and provides visibility from a safety standpoint,” Navarro said.
According to the city, the UNR project is compatible with existing surrounding land uses and conforms to its master plan. Additionally, Navarro said the bridge is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and doesn’t create adverse environmental impacts, such as dust, noise, glare, fumes or pollution.
The city received 21 letters in opposition to the bridge, three in support and one letter of concern.
Opponents said the pedestrian bridge would hinder the area’s scenic views and damage the historic integrity of the area. Morrill Hall, located about 150 feet north of the proposed project, was built in the 1880s and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Reno City Planning Commission in June was deadlocked in a 3-3 vote on whether to recommend council approval. Those opposed questioned the process and said it should’ve first gone before the city’s Design Review Committee.