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Road Trip: Sundial Bridge in Redding, CA

Bridges are back in the news.  The endless Peace Bridge debate continues while plans for a Buffalo River crossing to the outer harbor are advancing, at least until a site and design are selected.  Perfect time for a road trip.  Redding in northern California has a signature pedestrian bridge.  The Sundial Bridge crosses the Sacramento River and connects the northern and southern portions of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and is an integral part of the city’s river trail system.

The 700′ long glass and steel bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2004 has put Redding on the map.  That’s just what the project’s sponsors had in mind. 

DSC_001114.JPGIts $23 million cost, Calatrava’s first freestanding bridge in the United States, was funded mainly by the McConnell Foundation, a Redding-based philanthropic organization.  Attendance at the Turtle Bay museum complex and arboretum has increased 40 percent since the bridge opened, much of it due to tourists visiting the bridge and its signature 217-foot slanting sundial pylon.

The Sundial moniker is derived from the way the bridge supports act as a giant sundial. The pylon at the north end of the bridge casts a shadow onto a grassy plaza and marks the hours of the day with a shadow that moves approximately one foot each minute.  The glazing on the bridge deck enables visitors to tread on glass panels lit by sunlight during the day and by lights at night.

From the Turtle Bay website:

sundial4.jpgThe bridge celebrates human creativity and ingenuity, important themes of the 300 acre Turtle Bay Exploration Park. The steel, glass, and granite span evokes a sense of weightlessness and the translucent, non-skid decking provides for spectacular viewing at night. The bridge is also environmentally sensitive to its river setting. The tall pylon and cable stays allow the bridge to avoid the nearby salmon-spawning habitat there are no supports in the water while encouraging public appreciation for the river. Plazas are situated at both ends of the bridge for public use; the north-side plaza stretches to the water allowing patrons to sit at the river’s edge.

In addition to being a functional work of art, the Sundial Bridge is a technical marvel as well. The cable-stayed structure has an inclined, 217 foot pylon constructed of 580 tons of steel. The deck is made up of 200 tons of glass and granite and is supported by more than 4,300 feet of cable. The structure is stabilized by a steel truss, and rests on a foundation of more than 115 tons of steel and 1,900 cubic yards of concrete. The McConnell Foundation, a private, independent foundation established in Redding in 1964, funded the majority of the bridge’s $23 million cost.

World renowned Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava conceived the Sundial Bridge’s unusual design, his first free-standing bridge in the United States. Calatrava has built bridges, airports, rail terminals, stadiums, and other structures around the world. His notable designs include the new PATH transportation terminal at the World Trade Center site in New York City and several projects at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, including the main stadium where opening and closing ceremonies were held.



Night image by Slideshow Bruce.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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