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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Denver Millennium Bridge
Pedestrian/Bicycle Crossing At Denver
Denver, Colorado

Denver Millennium Bridge

• Bridge: Denver Millennium Bridge
• City: Denver
• State: Colorado
• Country: USA
• Carries: Pedestrians & Bicycles
• Crosses: Railroad, Light Rail
• Date Opened: April 22, 2002
• Total Length: 130 Feet (Estimated)
• Longest Span: 130 Feet (Estimated)
• Tower Height: 200 Feet (Estimated)
• Deck Width: 80 Feet (Estimated)
• Number Of Spans: 1
• Height Above Railroad: 25 Feet (Estimated)
Denver found itself with both a problem and an opportunity in the late 1980's: what to do with a large area of mostly abandoned industrial land that was now a contaminated brownfield that was situated on the west side of their downtown. Redevelopment was spurred on when the new baseball stadium for the Colorado Rockies was built in this area. However, a series of railroad tracks were proving to be a barrier to additional projects.

The first step in solving this problem was to consolidate all of the railroad tracks into a single right-of-way, called the Consolidated Main Line. Both the BNSF (then the Santa Fe) and Union Pacific mainlines were merged into a single path that runs just east of the South Platte River. This did not eliminate the barriers, but it did open up the riverfront area to full development and left just one obstacle to be crossed.

The solution to allow people to cross the railroad line is the Denver Millennium Bridge. This is one of the most unusual bridge structures that I have seen, but it had a very difficult problem to solve. How to get people up and over a narrow railroad corridor without creating an ugly concrete monstrosity or a long narrow cattle chute. It had to be inviting, accessible, and avoid any closed in space that would scare people away. This was accomplished by creating a suspended platform that had little ground level structure. The platform created a large open public space. Long tall stairways on each end were an unfortunate requirement, but elevators were provided for access and bicycle channels were included to make it easier for cyclists to use the bridge.

The end results of this project is a gateway path consisting of 3 different bridges (Denver Millennium Bridge, Platte River Bridge, and the Highland Bridge) that crosses 3 barriers (railroad tracks, South Platte River, and Interstate highway I-25) to join downtown Denver with the western neighborhoods. In the process, a large area of public green space was created and the development in the area has been successful beyond all early prediction. It has also become a hub that connects a number of regional trails such as the Colorado Front Range Trail, South Platte River Trail, and Cherry Creek Trail.

The photo above is a view of the north face of the Denver Millennium Bridge as seen from the walkway leading to the nearby light rail station. The large blue building directly behind the bridge is the DaVita headquarters building (DaVita is a large medical services company that is known for their dialysis centers located across the country).

Note—these are iPhone 5 photos which imposes an upper limit on their quality.


Denver Millennium Bridge
The photo above is a view of the bridge as seen from the walkway leading from the Commons Park and the Platte River Bridge. Much of the structure is in a deep shadow due to the proximity of the nearby tall buildings. The photo below, taken from within that shadow, gives a better view of the structure and the stairway leading up to the bridge deck. There is no abutment on the west end of the bridge, rather, it is fully suspended from the stay cables. There are only a few stabilizing cables and anchors on this end of the bridge.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
The photo above is a directional guide sign located just west of the Denver Millennium Bridge. This structure sits at the apex of a number of downtown neighborhoods, attractions, and transportation corridors. The photo below is overexposed to bring out the details of the area that is within that deep shadow on the west end of the bridge. The glass structure is an elevator to allow access to the bridge deck. There are elevators on each end of the bridge.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
These two photos are views of the stairway on the west end of the bridge. The photo above is a side view, while the photo below is a head-on view. The black material on the left side of the stairway is a bicycle channel that makes it easier to take bikes up or down the stairway. The person who is halfway up the stairs with a bicycle did not understand this feature.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
These two photos are views looking across the bridge deck. The photo above is the south side of the bridge which has a metal railing and features an urban flower garden. The photo below is the north side of the bridge deck. The railings are again tall in an attempt to prevent people from throwing objects into the path of trains that run under the bridge.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
The photo above is the bridge deck area near the main bridge tower. We also see two stay cables that support the bridge deck. The photo below shows three cable attachment points located at ground level just east of the bridge. These cables support the tower, which in turn supports the bridge deck.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
These two photos show some of the bridge structure on the north side of the deck. The deck is built on a lattice of steel beams, and the beams are supported by stay cables suspended from the main bridge tower.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
These two photos are views of the railroad infrastructure looking north from the bridge deck. The photo above shows the Consolidated Main Line (left) that carries BNSF and Union Pacific traffic (such as the coal unit train parked on one of the tracks) and the light rail tracks (right) that is electrified with an overhead catenary wire. The photo below shows the bus station that connects to the light rail. The curved with roof in the background is also a bus station that connects to Union Station, the regional railroad passenger station.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
The photo above is two different views of the main bridge tower. The left side is looking west, while the right side is looking towards the east. The photo below is a close view of the cable attachment points on the main bridge tower.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
The photo above is looking down along the east stairway leading down to ground level. The photo below is a closer view of one of the flights of stairs showing the bicycle channel, which is made from concrete on this side of the bridge (as opposed to rubber on the west side of the bridge). The east stairway was in the process of being rebuilt when I visited in the summer of 2014.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
The photo above is a ground level view of the east stairway leading to the bridge deck. The photo below is the elevator tower located on the east end of the structure.

Denver Millennium Bridge
Denver Millennium Bridge
The photo above is a view looking south towards the north face of the Denver Millennium Bridge. The vantage point is the north side of a construction site near the Union Station bus terminal. The photo below is a ground level view under the bridge. The light rail tracks are in the foreground, with the heavy rail tracks on the other side of the black chain link fence. Both tracks are occupied, the closer with a long line of flatbed cars, and the second track with a coal unit train. The coal train was loaded in the Power River Basin of southern Wyoming. It is headed to a power generating plant in Texas owned NRG-Texas, formerly called Texas GenCo.

Denver Millennium Bridge

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