Marlene Feist, Public Works Director of Strategic Development, 509.625.6505
Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 10:30 a.m.
Hundreds of people filled the new south landing of the University District Gateway Bridge in early May to celebrate the Grand Opening of the University District Gateway Bridge. The event was filled with booths, sweet sugar cookies, a college mascot, colorful balloons, and so many people!
Spokane leaders spoke to the importance of the bridge, saying it will bring economic development, allow for healthier transportation choices, and improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The new bridge, with its iconic 120-foot-tall arch, is all about making connections. The bridge provides a critical connection between the Sprague Union District and the main academic center of the University District. With the help of transit, it connects citizens to the medical district.
Over time, it also will connect the students, faculty and staff already in the district with housing, retail, and job opportunities that we expect to develop to the south.
The celebration was staged on the south side of the bridge because that location allowed attendees to see the impressive stately buildings of the academic institutions to the north. (This area is a hub of higher education, of course, with offerings by 6 institutions.)
But the site also provided views of new construction already being “catalyzed” by the bridge and a look at what other opportunities are in front of us.
Bridging the north and south areas of Spokane’s University District in the east part of downtown Spokane had long been envisioned, with the first ideas developing some 20 years ago. Mayor David Condon presented a key to the City to Jill Butterworth for her husband’s inspiring role in establishing the bridge.
Jill’s husband Bruce Butterworth, who sadly passed away last fall, and Spokane leader Dave Clack were the first to suggest a bridge over the railroad viaduct, hoping to pattern it after a bridge near Glacier National Park. While the proposal initially was turned down, Bruce didn’t give up on that dream. His tenacity and civic leadership were key factors in making the bridge a reality.
It will take more leaders like Bruce to continue to grow and develop the University District for generations to come.