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Stories Along the Line: Marvel of the Skyway Bridge

Bridges are something to marvel at. They connect us one to the other, shortening times and distances; making our lives, communication and commerce more swift and efficient. And, as poet Susan Langer said, "...more direct than if the bridge was not there."

Engineering marvel

RTD's new Skyway Bridge, an integral part of the North Metro line, will span 9,533 feet, making it the longest bridge in RTD's FasTracks program-and the longest in Colorado. At its zenith, the bridge will rise 50 feet above ground or stand nearly five stories tall.

Rendering of Skyway Bridge
Rendering of the Skyway Bridge

According to Jennifer Whiteside, lead structural engineer for RTD's North Metro Rail Line, the bridge will be built as a direct-fix bridge, with no ballast, but with precast concrete and pre-stressed girders. Construction will require 64 spans, 63 piers, two abutments and 7,626 fasteners, and will take about two years to complete.

Where it goes

Crews install first caisson on Skyway Bridge
Crews install Skyway Bridge's first caisson
Moving north, the new Skyway Bridge will ascend south of York Street in Commerce City. It will then span above and across York Street and over the BNSF Railway tracks, Brighton Boulevard, a Union Pacific (UP) Railroad track spur, the Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Company (FRICO) ditch, the Suncor Energy refinery and processing plant, Sand Creek and Highway 270. At just short of two miles long, the bridge will touch down south of 68th Avenue.

Little known facts

Statues and headstones keep a silent watch in Oct. 2012 in Riverside Cemetery in Denver. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcy Glass via Wikimedia Commons
Riverside Cemetery in Commerce City, Colorado
Among the first establishments in the modern Commerce City were cemeteries. Riverside Cemetery, founded in 1876, is located in the city's southwest corner at East 52nd Avenue and Brighton Boulevard. Passengers on the N-Line will be able to see Riverside Cemetery.

Rose Hill Cemetery, in the heart of historic Commerce City, was established in 1892 on what at the time was an open plain by the United Hebrew Cemetery Association.

Agricultural beginnings

Until the late 1920s, the area was devoted to agriculture, including wheat fields, dairies, and pig farms. Industry moved in, with a refinery established in 1930 and grain elevators built in the late 1930s. Rocky Mountain Arsenal was founded in 1942 due east of the growing community.

The N-Line

When completed, the Skyway Bridge will carry electric commuter trains as
they travel along the new 18.5-mile North Metro - N Line from Union Station
through Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton. The line is scheduled to open in 2018.




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