The Gateway Bridge, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates – the same architects who designed A Gathering Place for Tulsa park – has been selected to replace the century-old pedestrian bridge over the Arkansas River, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the bridge selection process.
The individuals spoke to The Frontier on the condition of anonymity.
The other bridge design finalist was The Crossing Bridge, created by KKT of Tulsa.
Mayor G.T. Bynum is expected to announce the winning bridge design at a press conference Monday.
City officials did not respond to requests for comment.
The Gateway Bridge would not only link the east and west banks of the Arkansas River and connect to A Gathering Place, but “also celebrate the connection between the river and the improved Zink Lake,” according to MVVA’s design submission.
The Arkansas River Pedestrian Bridge Selection Committee last month gave MVVA and KKT 30 days to come up with final designs that incorporated the public’s concerns about their initial proposals.
Those concerns included a perceived lack of shading and seating as well as questions regarding lighting.
The selection committee also asked MVVA and KKT to submit two final designs each: one for a bridge that could be built for $24.5 million, and one for a bridge that could be built for $35 million.
Those design options were presented to the 13-member Bridge Selection Committee last week.
Committee members then voted on their favorite designs, with the vote split nearly down the middle, sources said, and the meeting ended without a winning design being disclosed.
Monday’s announcement will bring to an end a years-long process to come up with a bridge design.
The city initially planned to rehabilitate the existing 113-year-old pedestrian bridge at 29th Street and Riverside Drive and add a second deck in time for the opening of A Gathering Place in the late spring or summer of 2018. But that idea was scrapped in late 2014 after an inspection uncovered deficiencies in the bridge that make the planned reconstruction impractical and cost-prohibitive.
The city then worked with MVVA and A Gathering Place officials for more than a year on a bridge design before opening the process to the public in March.
The public input process began with an open design submission period in which the city received 234 design proposals. The selection committee then narrowed the field to four designs and put the design concepts out for public comment.
Nearly 3,000 people submitted a total of more than 14,000 comments on the four finalists.
The city has budgeted $24.5 million for the project. But Bynum asked the design finalists last month what they could do if they had $10 million more.
“Through the whole (bridge design selection) process, what became clear to us — to me, at least — is that the number we have been working from, it could end up being the final budget and would be great if it is,” Bynum said then. “But to get a once-in-a-century, world-class bridge that goes next to the greatest park gift in the history of the country, we may need some flexibility on the amount that we have to work with.”
The Gateway Bridge will be built in approximately the same location as the existing bridge. It is expected to cost more than the $24.5 million the city has allocated for the project, sources said, and the city is continuing to work to identify additional funding.
The city actually has $27.5 million budgeted for the pedestrian bridge project, but $3 million of that has been set aside for contingency. The three major funding sources are the Improve Our Tulsa capital improvements program ($7.7 million); a federal TIGER grant ($4.7 million); and Vision Tulsa sales tax ($15 million).
Click here to view the original Gateway Bridge design renderings. These do not reflect the changes incorporated into the latest Gateway Bridge design.
Click here to view the original Crossing Bridge design renderings. These do not reflect the changes incorporated into the latest Crossing Bridge design.
The selection committee includes:
Elected Officials: Mayor G.T. Bynum and Councilors Jeannie Cue, Blake Ewing, Ben Kimbro and Phil Lakin
Historical Leaders: Holbrook Lawson (Chair, Tulsa Arts Commission), Michael Wallis (Tulsa Historical Society Hall of Fame)
Design Experts: Amanda DeCort (Tulsa Foundation for Architecture), Shawn Schaefer (OU-Tulsa Urban Design Studio)
River Corridor Stakeholders: Juan Miret (Growing Together), Stuart Solomon (Public Service Company of Oklahoma), Jeff Stava (The Gathering Place), Darton Zink (River Parks Authority)
Support Staff: Rich Brierre, Nick Doctor, Matt Meyer, Dawn Warrick, and Paul Zachary