Hey – Nashville’s Gulch Bridge Design Looks Just Like This One In Denver

Left: Artist rendering of the planned Gulch bridge in Nashville. image from Metro Public Works. Right: The Millennium Bridge in Denver. Look familiar? Image: Wikimedia Commons

Left: Artist rendering of the planned Gulch bridge in Nashville. image from Metro Public Works. Right: The Millennium Bridge in Denver. Look familiar? Image: Wikimedia Commons

Last month, Nashville’s Department of Public Works released artist renderings of a planned pedestrian bridge over all those train tracks between The Gulch and SoBro (South of Broadway).

The renderings make clear that the structure is intended to be an eye-catching feature, and the Public Works website says that in addition to its practical uses, the bridge is intended to be “an experience in itself with landscaping and beautiful views of the skyline”.

Also, if you’re visiting Nashville from Denver, the bridge will likely make you feel right at home.

Here you can see the slotted ramp beside the stairs up Denver's Millennium Bridge, intended to allow cyclists to push their bikes up. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Here you can see the slotted ramp beside the stairs up Denver’s Millennium Bridge, intended to allow cyclists to push their bikes up. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Ramp For Bikes

One issue with the bridge’s location is the quick rise on The Gulch side from street level by the Pine Street Flats apartment complex to a height great enough to clear the trains below. The span isn’t long enough for a bike-able ramp. So cyclists will have to dismount and use the stairs.

So how do you get your bike up those stairs? Project planners point to a comparable system used in pedestrian bridge in Denver, The Millennium Bridge, where slotted ramps next to the stairs allow cyclists to push their bikes up as they walk.

But the similarities don’t end there. Here are some others:

  • Based purely on the photos of Millennium Bridge and Nashville’s renderings, they look almost exactly the same!
  • They both cross over multiple train tracks.
  • They both have glass elevators in addition to the stairs on one end.
  • They both connect on one end to a neighborhood named with an acronym (Denver’s Lower Downtown is called LoDo. We’ve got SoBro).
  • Both are cable-stayed bridges, using post-tensioned structural construction.

That Tower Actually Does Something

On that last point: Apparently that tall, sculptural tower — present in both designs — does more than just look pretty. According to Wikipedia, Denver’s Millennium Bridge is “the world’s first cable-stayed bridge using post-tensioned structural construction”. The Nashville bridge’s project manager from Public Works Jonathan Cleghon explained the construction this way to WKRN:

If you imagine, you’re in a tug-of-war, if you’re pulling back on a rope, that’s what they tower does.  That tower pulls those cables back and balances the over hanging part of the bridge.

Despite the obvious similarities, when asked if there are any direct design connections between the Gulch bridge and the Denver bridge — perhaps the same architects? —  Cleghon says there aren’t any as far as he knows.

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