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'Snake' bridge in disrepair due to Tucson's cash shortage

'Snake' bridge in disrepair due to Tucson's cash shortage

  • Updated
'Snake' bridge slithers into state of disrepair due to cash shortage

The city of Tucson doesn't have funds to repair peeling paint and other cosmetic issues on the Diamondback Bridge.

Built in 2002, the Diamondback Bridge is looking a little long in the fangs.

But the metallic creature will have to settle for its - put nicely - rustic look, because the city is too poor to mend it.

The bridge suffers a malfunctioning rattle and unsightly wear and tear on the exterior. The city lacks the funds to complete the $200,000 renovations, said Transportation Director Jim Glock, who said he would have his electric shop look into the matter.

"We have a scope of work for the other maintenance needs for the bridge identified," Glock wrote in an email to the Star as well as to Ward 1 City Councilwoman Regina Romero.

Repairs to the bridge - beyond the peeling paint - could cost around $200,000, he said.

"Unfortunately our budget situation is preventing us from addressing the issues for the time being," Glock said. "The maintenance needs are not safety related, but we understand the importance of its appearance as a gateway into and out of downtown."

Romero said she's concerned about the bridge's decay, but said the city is handcuffed by a limited budget.

"I think the bridge has become iconic in the city of Tucson. Some love it, some hate it, but I think that we need to make sure we're maintaining the assets that we do have," Romero said. "Not only neighborhood streets and pothole repair. We need to make sure we're helping maintain it."

Romero said maintaining the structural integrity of streets and bridges is more important than fixing cosmetic damage, although she emphasized that the city is prompt about cleaning the bridge and removing graffiti.

"There's so much need out there," she said.

Simon Donovan, the artist who designed the bridge, urged patience.

"My feeling is it's there for the long haul, and there may be a period of disrepair based on available funding," he said. "There are other priorities in the city budget right now, and that's fine."

Donovan said he wishes the bridge looked better but is realistic about the costs of maintenance.

"If it was something I could fix myself," Donovan added, "I would."

He added a telling quip about the bridge's disrepair: "Snakes shed their skin."


The Diamondback Bridge, officially known as the Broadway Bicycle/Pedestrian Bridge, cost $2.47 million and was completed in May 2002 after being delayed when two trucks plowed into its support structures during construction in 2001.

Local artist Simon Donovan came up with the concept for the bridge; TY Lin International designed it; and Hunter Contracting Co. handled construction.

The Federal Highway Administration granted it an Excellence in Highway Design award in 2002, and the American Public Works Association named the bridge the 2003 Public Works Project of the Year.

The Diamondback Bridge connects on a path to the $3.4 million Basket Bridge, which spans Euclid Avenue south of Broadway and was finished in 2007 as part of a pedestrian and bike path that extends to South Craycroft and East Golf Links roads.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or

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