Bridging the Gap No More

A 144,000-pound pedestrian bridge suspended above Front Street downtown is no more, after a complicated and delicate operation to remove it from between two buildings.

The 100-foot long bridge was once used to transfer inmates to and from the old County Courthouse and Central Jail but it hasn’t been used since the new State Courthouse opened over a year ago.

Bringing down the structure was no small feat. Front Street is a busy corridor, but it was shut down for the weekend of Aug. 3-4 for the bridge’s removal. A crane was brought in to hold the weight of the bridge as four welders with torches cut the eight steel attachments connecting the walkway between the two buildings.

Once the welders severed the connections, the bridge broke loose and was supported solely by the crane. Slowly and carefully, the bridge was safely lowered to the ground where it was dismantled. Front Street was reopened to traffic by 4 a.m. the following Monday morning, as planned.

Demolishing the bridge is the first step toward the construction of a new 350-foot long tunnel that will run underneath the old courthouse and be used to transfer inmates between the Central Jail and the new courthouse.

The old courthouse will be torn down and replaced with the Courthouse Commons project. Developers plan to build a 37-story high rise on the southern portion of the site fronting Broadway. The building would house 431 apartments, plus retail and office space. More than 80 of the units will be set aside for affordable housing.