Iowa State's elevated pedestrian Gateway Bridge project moves forward, awaits final approval
A $10 million pedestrian bridge project that would span the road east of Jack Trice Stadium was advanced Wednesday by an Iowa Board of Regents committee.
The proposed quarter-mile-long elevated Gateway Bridge would connect the east side of the stadium, at Gate 2, to new parking lots east of University Boulevard, and has been touted as a way to create a safer path for pedestrians to cross the street on Cyclone football gamedays.
The approval by consent Wednesday of the Board of Regents' Property and Facilities Committee still means the bridge project needs approval before the full Board of Regents before construction can begin. The committee had no comments or questions Wednesday about the project.
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a video released in January that the bridge project would be completely funded by two donors' $5 million gifts last fall.
Chris Jorgensen, a senior associate athletics director, said this week there was not more information about the donors that could be released.
Pollard described the bridge in last month's video as "a critical project to the future development of the area between Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum."
He told viewers the bridge would be a tangible sign that the athletics department is beginning to think about how to renovate Hilton Coliseum, the Scheman Building and C.Y. Stephens Auditorium, and build an art and entertainment district — all to the north of the football stadium and west of University Boulevard.
Pollard added, however, there's no determined start date for those projects. He said there would most likely need to be more certainty about what the fall football season will look like, which will largely be determined by how many people will have been vaccinated against COVID-19 by then, "but we're very optimistic that we'll be able to move forward in the very near future."
The Gateway Bridge would connect the stadium with a planned parking lot of 300 spaces for RVs, each with electrical hook-ups, to be located east of University Boulevard, which connects campus directly to Highway 30.
Pollard also said last month the bridge would improve pedestrian access to the stadium from South 4th and South 16th streets, getting people over University Boulevard and directly into the stadium.
Jorgensen said South 4th and 16th streets are currently the closest pedestrian crossings over University Boulevard, and while both are controlled with traffic lights, "both intersections can become very congested on a football game day — the pedestrian traffic contributes to traffic congestion."
He said there's no estimate for how much foot traffic the bridge would get, though the planned additional parking and pedestrian improvements to the east would increase foot traffic on gamedays.
Pollard had said the university hopes to complete the bridge and new parking lots, including the RV spots, before the 2022 football season gets underway.
The university will need an easement to build the bridge over University Boulevard's right-of-way, and while the university is working with the City of Ames on it, Jorgensen did not have a timetable for that decision.
In the shorter term, Pollard told viewers last month that construction continued on the Sports Performance Center, located on the north side of the stadium, adding the center would open this spring "and it will be fully complete by this fall."
That project includes a new locker room for the Cyclones' football team, and a new academic center and dining facility for all of Iowa State's student-athletes.