U Pedestrian Bridge Dedicated

After much anticipation, the George S. Eccles 2002 Legacy Bridge is open to the public.

U President Bernie Machen, along with Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney and others, dedicated the new single-pylon suspension bridge across Wasatch Drive.

“We are pleased today to name the bridge, the George S. Eccles 2002 Legacy Bridge,” Machen announced.

“This is not just a bridge. It’s a powerful and enduring landmark of the university. It represents our past and is the link to our future,” Machen said. “The immediate benefit [of the bridge] is going to be to serve the Olympics.”

In February, athletes from 82 countries will cross over it to go to the Opening and Closing ceremonies held in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Romney thanked the U for providing a safe means of transportation for athletes.

“We could not have these games without the help of the U,” Romney said.

Both Machen and Romney showed their appreciation for the George S. and Dolores Dor Eccles Foundation’s $2 million donation to the $5 million project.

“The Eccles made it possible,” Romney said. “It is an item that will not be forgotten.”

The “unique” design will make the bridge a lasting symbol of the U, Machen said.

“They really did pick the right design team,” said Ralph Jackson, one of the bridge’s designers.

Along with Rick Phillips, Jackson worked on the stadium light rail project during the past two years before the two took on the Legacy Bridge. According to Jackson, U administrators were excited from the moment they saw preliminary sketches.

“The U staff picked up on our vision,” Jackson said.

After the dedication, everyone at the event took a first ceremonial walk across the bridge.

“That is the best way to dedicate a bridge,” Jackson said.

According to Machen, the main motivation behind building the bridge was student safety. “It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” he said.

Machen believes the bridge will also influence different methods of transportation. Construction on a new TRAX station, south of the bridge will start after the Olympics, he said. It will connect lower campus to the Health Sciences Center.

“It will make our campus whole,” Machen said.

The ceremony ended with the unveiling of the official 2002 Winter Games sculpture on the west plaza of the bridge. The statue is of a skier, with gold Olympic rings under him.

“[The statue] is an item to tie this wonderful village, the U and the Olympics together,” said Robert Rice, who donated the statue.

The statue was designed and sculpted by artist Jonathan Bronson, a U alumnus, who has worked in the White House before, was glad to bring his work “back to Utah.”

Bronson constructed the bronze statue in a process similar to the way Greeks made sculptures for the very first Olympics.

“Just like the Olympic athletes, we have just one chance to win,” said Spencer Eccles in regards to hosting the Olympics. “This bridge is a winner, in every sense of the word.”

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