Ground broken for structure
Local attorney instrumental in raising money
By Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette
Officials from two Fort Wayne campuses Friday formally broke ground for a project to build an actual – and symbolic – bridge.
The Parker-Cole Crossway will span Coliseum Boulevard East and link the campuses of Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast and IPFW just west of Crescent Avenue via an overhead pedestrian walkway/bikeway.
Already, officials said, about 1,000 students a day travel between the two institutions. The new bridge will make that trip easier, they said.
But the bridge also demonstrates the two institutions that might be seen as competitors can put competition aside.
“It's not only a functional bridge but it's a symbolic linkage for students to see the next step in their career pathway,” said Jerrilee Mosier, Ivy Tech chancellor.
“The bridge is also symbolic of the long-standing partnership between our institutions … to increase higher education attainment in northeast Indiana in the years to come.”
The bridge also links the campuses with the Fort Wayne community by linking to a developing community trails system, including the Rivergreenway, said Mac Parker, a retired Fort Wayne attorney and philanthropist.
He and his wife, Pat, were instrumental in developing the idea for the bridge and raising money for it.
Eighty percent of the structure's $4.5 million cost will be paid for from state highway funds, and Parker and the Olive B. Cole Foundation, of which Parker is president, will contribute the rest.
The bridge takes its name from the Parker family and Cole.
The structure, the third bridge on the IPFW campus, was more than eight years from concept to groundbreaking, said Kurt Heidenreich of Fort Wayne, who designed all three.
With a sweeping central support that rises about 115 feet and a length of more 3,600 feet including the approaches, the bridge is a cable-stayed design, Heidenreich said after the ceremony.
The structure required the long approaches so it would be wheelchair-accessible, he said. Its deck will be about 17 feet above the boulevard, exceeding the height standard for interstate highway bridges, Heidenreich said.
The central support will be made of a material that will emit a glow at night, and smaller supports will be able to be lit with lights that can change color if desired, he said.
Tests were done in Australia to prove the structure will withstand sustained winds of 120 mph, Heidenreich said.
Campus officials said construction will begin within the next few weeks, and the bridge is expected to be finished by June 2018.
At the ceremony, Mayor Tom Henry predicted the bridge will become a community landmark as well as a way “employers and visitors can see what kind of collaboration is going on it this city.”
IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein said the bridge reflects both schools' values.
“This is going to be quite the bridge,” she said. “It's going to be spectacular.”