Artists are etching images onto the sidewalk on a new bridge in downtown Tucson this week.

The 320-foot-long bridge soon will link downtown and the west side on the new streetcar route.

The complex public art project was created by Tucson artists Brenda Semanick and David Johnson Vandenberg with the help of architecture firm Structural Grace and architect Dave Dobler.

Cutouts in the steel shade canopies will interact with a dozen etched images on the sidewalk on certain meaningful days in Tucson history.

For example, raindrop-shaped cutouts in the canopy will illuminate a picture of St. John on the sidewalk - but they will align perfectly only on the Día de San Juan, a local observance heralding the start of summer rains.

Other aspects of the artwork include replicas of Hohokam pottery shards embedded in the sidewalk, and some of the original shards were found in the riverbed under the bridge, Semanick said.

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And the underside of the bridge has handmade bat sculptures because the bridge will be a home to bats.

The bridge should be open in a week or two to pedestrians and bicyclists, said streetcar project manager Jesse Gutierrez.

Crews then need to install rails and pave the bridge before it is opened to vehicles early next year.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.