Borrowing those words from the opening of the old “Superman” TV series, yep, it IS a bird. It’s a BIG bird. A big METAL bird. And it has found a home on the Interstate 40 Crosstown in Oklahoma City.
The Skydance (or SkyDance, if you prefer) Bridge was dedicated Monday afternoon and lighted Monday night. The pedestrian bridge, spanning the new portion of the highway near Robinson and a few blocks south of downtown, eventually will connect north and south areas of an urban park. Work on the park is expected to begin next year.
It’s a big structure, meant to represent the “sky dance” of Oklahoma’s state bird: the scissor-tailed flycatcher. At nearly 400 feet in length and almost 200 feet high from road surface to tip of the wing, it’s hard to miss and easy to spot as you travel on I-40.
“The Oklahoma City SkyDance Bridge adds a striking and iconic element to Oklahoma City’s landscape,” Mayor Mick Cornett said. “Evoking the state bird, it’s a visual reminder that this is a city taking flight.
“For the millions of Americans who cross our country on I-40 each year, the brightly lit sculpture will be a head-turning reminder that they were in Oklahoma City.”
In a news release Tuesday, the city’s communications director, Kristy Yager, wrote that planning for the structure began in 2008 when Cornett announced a competition to design a pedestrian bridge of “iconic status that reflect the cosmopolitan and vibrant qualities of Oklahoma City and serve as a symbol for the City.”
The bridge design and structural engineering was performed locally by S-X-L. Civil engineering was done by MKEC engineering. SXL and MKEC engineering won a national competition for the project in 2008.
SXL is a collaboration of architects, engineers, university professors and designers that include Laurent Massenat, Professor Hans Butzer, Professor Stan Carroll, Ken Fitzsimmons, Professor Chris Ramseyer, David Wanzer, Jeremy Gardner, and Brett Johnson.
“Our design team was excited about helping connecting not only north to south and east to west, but in connecting travelers’ first impressions of our evolving city with this majestic image for Oklahoma City,” Butzer said.
Manhattan Road and Bridge was the general contractor. W&W Steel fabricated the steel and Swanda Brothers fabricated the feathers.
“The extreme amount of personal pride demonstrated by everyone who worked on this bridge, from architects, engineers, to the constructors and the City and state administrators, was unprecedented,” architect Stan Carroll said.
Yager’s release said the bridge was built prior to development of the MAPS 3 downtown park to avoid disrupting traffic once the new I-40 opens.
She said total cost for the pedestrian bridge is $5.8 million, of which $3.5 million came from Oklahoma Department of Transportation funds and $2.3 million came from the 2000 and 2007 General Obligation Bond Authorizations.
As with any artwork, Skydance will have its fans and there will be those who may not favor it as much. But it will be visible and easily recognizeable in Oklahoma City.
See more about the MAPS projects in KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/OKLAHOMA-CITY and more about Oklahoma Sites to visit in KNOWIT.NEWSOK.COM/TRAVEL-TIPS.