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Tempe Town Lake Light Rail Bridge

Tempe, Arizona

Market Sector

Bridge, Rail and Transit


Truss, Passenger and Transit, Transit

Services Provided



Photo Credit: Tom Paiva Photography
Photo Credit: Tom Paiva Photography
Photo Credit: Tom Paiva Photography
Photo Credit: Tom Paiva Photography
Photo Credit: Tom Paiva Photography

Upon completion of a comprehensive preliminary engineering study of structural alternatives, T.Y. Lin International was selected as the prime consultant to provide final design services for the Tempe Town Lake Bridge, a steel bridge that is 1530 feet long and spans Tempe Town Lake adjacent to the historic Union Pacific steel truss railroad bridge.

Project Highlights:

  • Context Sensitive Solutions and public involvement program
  • Special LED lighting system that allows programmers to create a variety of effects ranging from lights chasing trains across the bridge to patriotic red, white and blue light displays and more complex shows

Completed in 2006, the bridge is an innovative continuous 11-span, triangular steel truss supporting each track with a 30 foot wide concrete deck featuring a cast-in-place, seven-inch-thick 5,000-psi reinforced concrete. From the waterline to near the bridge deck, diagonal lines dominate. V-shaped pier caps rise to meet steel trusses that feature diagonal pipe bracing connecting top and bottom pipe chords.

The new design borrows from the old rail bridge but adds modern touches that no one could have imagined in 1912. The relative shallow superstructure blends well with the existing roadway and railroad bridge structures and provides the City of Tempe with an iconic gateway that complements its setting. The innovative design also includes integral LED structure lighting that is activated by the trains crossing the structure.

The project also included the reconstruction of several local roadways, drainage modification, park modifications, significant construction sequencing scenarios, and aesthetic treatments on various project elements. T.Y. Lin International worked closely with local historical preservationists, neighborhood groups and the transportation commission to ensure that the bridge design didn’t detract from the adjacent historic railroad bridge. The design—a steel truss under each rail—is simple and elegant, and provides pedestrians and boaters with a grand view of the historic Southern Pacific and Mill Avenue bridges.

Prize Bridge Award, Iconic or Signature Bridge, 2009
National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA)