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Construction begins on Colorado's longest bridge

One of the bridges along the North Metro Rail Line will be the longest in RTD's FasTracks program. It will also be the longest bridge in Colorado. Construction began in early August 2015 and it will take about two years to complete.

It's called the Skyway Bridge and it will carry commuter trains through north metro Denver, crossing 11 existing transportation corridors and waterways.


The Skyway Bridge will be 9,533 feet long, just a little under two miles. For comparison, the Golden Gate Bridge spans nearly 8,980 feet, the Brooklyn Bridge is 5,989 feet, and Colorado’s Royal Gorge Bridge spans 1,260 feet.


Rendering-of-Skyway-bridge-over-I-270-in-Adams-County-Colorado
Rendering of Skyway Bridge over I-270 in Adams County, Colorado

Reasons to build the bridge

Generally, it is more expensive to build a bridge than travel on land, but in the case of the Skyway Bridge, RTD will take care of some important challenges related to constructing the North Metro Rail Line:

  1. Ease environmental impacts
  2. Ease construction impacts
  3. Preserve property to the greatest extent possible

Designing the project

It's one of 13 bridges designed on the project. Design took nearly a year-and-a-half and required six engineers: Two full-time for the duration of the design, three part-time and one full-time senior engineer who managed design oversight.

Eight governmental and regional stakeholders coordinated on the bridge design. It will be assembled in sections. The properties below the bridge affect how and in what order the section construction will occur.

Skyway Bridge by the numbers

  • 9,533 feet long
  • 64 spans
  • 63 piers
  • 2 abutments

There is no ballast. Ballast is the rock you see that surrounds railroad track. The lack of ballast will reduce overall weight on the bridge. Instead, 7,626 fasteners will attach the rail to the bridge.

At its highest point, the Skyway Bridge will stand almost 50 feet above grade.


Rendering-of-Skyway-Bridge-in-Adams-County-Colorado
Rendering of Skyway Bridge through Adams County, Colorado

The route

The bridge will begin its northward rise south of York Street in Commerce City. It spans above and across York Street, BNSF and Union Pacific railway tracks and spurs (four times), Brighton Boulevard, the Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Company ditch (three times), Sand Creek and I-270. The bridge will touch down adjacent to Bambei-Walker Reservoir, south of 68th Ave.

The Skyway Bridge is part of the 18.5-mile-long North Metro Rail Line project that will run from Denver Union Station through Commerce City, Northglenn and Thornton. It's scheduled to open in 2018.