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A bridge as art

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE<Breckenridge town planners and art commissioners would like to build a bridge that serves as art. Or art that functions as a bridge. An artsy bridge.3The concept of a bridge as art has been floating around for some time, said Breckenridge Public Arts Commissioner Leona Sophocles. 3It kind of got planted in our heads by (town council member and open space commissioner) John Warner. He1s been places, photographed bridges as art; it1s something that1s been done elsewhere: Why not use something that1s functional and make it into an art form?Whatever it ultimately ends up being, arts, town and open space leaders would like to place a 20-foot-long bridge at the junction of the Blue River and Cucumber Creek near the whitewater park. The bridge will provide better access between the north and south sides of Cucumber Creek. Its placement was scheduled as part of the first phase of the kayak park.Currently, people walking along the west side of the Blue River hop along large boulders to cross Cucumber Creek, and the town1s insurance carrier says that1s a safety concern. Town public works employees have since placed even more boulders in the river, which satisfies the insurance company1s concerns, but town planners feel a bridge there would be better, particularly for people carrying kayaks over the slippery rocks.According to town planner Jennifer Cram, a simple metal truss bridge would cost about $15,000. The town public arts commission has said they1d be willing to contribute another $15,000 and would like to work with an engineer to create a piece of art that functions as a bridge.Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Commission (BOSAC) members admitted being confused.3What I can1t get my hands around is them designing an artsy bridge, or if they1re designing a bridge with artwork that you can see from Highway 9, said commissioner Dennis Kuhn at a meeting earlier this month. 3Whatever happened to the days when you threw a couple of logs across the river?3I suddenly have this image of a bridge with paintings hung on it, said commissioner Jim Lamb. 3I just cringe.3I1m open to seeing a bridge as art<or art as a bridge, said open space commissioner Matt Stais. 3And if nothing really works, scrap it and do the art somewhere else.One concern BOSAC members have is that there already are three bridges in the area of the rec center and a fourth one incorporating art might not blend with the existing ones.Bridges in the area include a concrete, brick and painted ironwork vehicular bridge over Cucumber Creek that accesses the rec center, a similar pedestrian bridge to the east of that and an arched wooden pedestrian and bicycle bridge behind the rec center. The new bridge would be 100 feet east of the existing pedestrian bridge, which kayakers don1t use because it1s 200 feet from the park, said Open Space and Trails Director Heide Andersen.Sophocles envisions something using a kayak as a motif.3Maybe a paddle, the shape of a kayak, she said. 3The shape of the bridge lends itself to a kayak. I love the concept; I hope it flies.Some commissioners wondered aloud how much money should be put into the effort. Turk Montepare asked how different hopping over the boulders in Cucumber Creek is from the terrain in the Gore River, where kayakers often have to negotiate rocks to access prime put-in spots.Commissioners agreed to allow Cram to solicit artist and engineer design teams to create a bridge. A simple bridge could be installed as early as this spring, but one that incorporates art would likely take longer and wouldn1t be placed over the river until the fall.Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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