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Connecting Communities: The High Plains Trail Connector Pedestrian Bridge in Parker, Colorado

April 24, 2024

In Colorado, outdoor activities are a deep part of the culture, so having safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists is crucial. However, residents face challenges accessing the regional trail network in the easternmost part of the Denver metro area due to busy roads and at-grade crossings. These barriers hinder community integration with the natural environment and limit outdoor exploration. Improving infrastructure and connectivity through dedicated paths, safe crossings and enhanced trail access is essential for residents to fully embrace Colorado's outdoor lifestyle.

A Collaborative Construction Effort     

To address this challenge, several local and regional governing bodies—including Arapahoe County, the Town of Parker, the City of Aurora, the City of Centennial, Douglas County, and the E-470 Public Highway Authority—collaborated to secure funding and develop the High Plains Trail Connector Pedestrian Bridge. The trail traverses privately owned land, requiring close coordination with the Colorado Department of Transportation for bridge placement.

Pedestrian Bridge Design

The High Plains Trail Connector Pedestrian Bridge showcases the potential of collaborative and innovative engineering. The initiative combines the project’s goal of community connectivity and safety with advanced architectural elements for durability and accessibility. Stanley Consultants was selected by the group to design and manage construction of the bridge project.

Engineering Enduring Accessibility

The design of the High Plains Trail Connector Pedestrian Bridge features a tied-arch truss structure, which also incorporates properties to reduce corrosion and doesn't require future maintenance like a painted structure would require. This 256-foot-long and 16-foot-wide bridge incorporates an ADA-compliant loop ramp, an overlook area with seating and a sign showcasing local history. Additionally, a cast-in-place concrete box culvert was constructed to seamlessly connect the trail to the existing grade, allowing for a smooth and accessible pathway.

Pedestrian Bridge Construction

Pedestrian bridges enhance the safety and connectivity of the communities in which they reside. Our team paid special attention to every detail of the bridge’s construction, including merging functional design with local heritage, to transform daily commutes into safer, more pleasant journeys.

Integrating Utilitarian Elements and Build Site Heritage     

To blend with the surrounding area, the approaches to the bridge were constructed using back-to-back mechanically stabilized walls adorned with precast concrete panels. These panels incorporate decorative elements that pay homage to the nearby 17-Mile House Farm Park historic site, adding to the bridge's aesthetic appeal. By integrating history and aesthetics, the High Plains Connector Pedestrian Bridge enhances the overall experience for trail users and adds to the charm of the area.

Improving Pedestrian Safety and Community Connectivity

The High Plains Connector Pedestrian Bridge spans over SH-83 (Parker Road), a heavily trafficked six-lane-separated state highway with over 50,000 cars passing through daily. This bridge provides a safe crossing, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to access surrounding neighborhoods and businesses without the risks associated with busy road crossings. With the support of grants, the bridge has become one of the longest single-span pedestrian bridges in Colorado.

Enhancing Quality of Life for Residents

As of July 2023, the bridge is complete. Once the connectors to other trails are completed, the High Plains Connector Pedestrian Bridge will significantly improve regional trail connectivity. It will provide a safer highway crossing, granting residents easier access to the larger Denver regional trail network. Ultimately, this project enhances the quality of life for the community, promoting outdoor activities while keeping pedestrians safe.

High Plains Connector Pedestrian Bridge Under Construction in Colorado

Partner With Our Transportation Consultants for a Safer, More Connected Future

The High Plains Connector Pedestrian Bridge is a testament to the importance of separating motor vehicle traffic from pedestrian and cycling trails. Through collaboration, innovative design and a commitment to preserving history, Stanley Consultants helps Colorado prioritize the well-being and enjoyment of its outdoor enthusiasts. The High Plains Connector Pedestrian Bridge symbolizes community connection and a gateway to a healthier and more vibrant future. 

At Stanley Consultants, we’re working hard every day to create a more connected, enriched and sustainable world. Partner with us for your next transportation project and experience the exceptional capabilities we bring to the table. Our expertise in delivering transformative infrastructure projects makes us well-equipped to meet your requirements and exceed your expectations. Contact us today to discuss your needs and discover how we can collaborate to bring your vision to life.

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