Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Case Study No. 41

Greenway Pedestrian Bridge

Phoenix, Arizona

Prepared by Mike Cynecki and Ralph Goodall, City of Phoenix, Arizona. 2012 updates by Tom Godbee, City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department.


A safer crossing was needed for school children to reach a school located near a new seven-lane parkway.


The Greenway Pedestrian Bridge at its new location near Aire Libre Elementary School.

In the early 1990s, two elementary schools in Phoenix needed pedestrian bridges to accommodate students' daily commute to school. Near Mercury Mine Elementary School, Squaw Peak Parkway was under construction to replace a four-lane divided highway, which made an existing pedestrian bridge too narrow for the new roadway width.

At roughly the same time, Greenway Parkway was also under construction through an open field where students previously enjoyed direct access to Aire Libre Elementary School. After the Parkway was built, students had no safe way to cross the busy seven-lane arterial.

To address this situation, Aire Libre Elementary School hired two crossing guards to assist children across the street during peak school commute periods and the City established a 15 mi/h (24 km/h) school zone in the area. However, these two measures did not provide sufficient safety for those crossing the street. The crossing guards were in a difficult position of slowing and/or stopping vehicles that had been traveling 50 mi/h (80 km/h) or more. Many close calls occurred, and an opportunity to make improvements was presented with the removal of the pedestrian bridge at Mercury Mine Elementary School.


New ramps, spiral staircases and footings were constructed to comply with ADA standards.

To address the problem at Aire Libre Elementary School, former Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza, at the time a city councilman, led efforts to begin what a local newspaper labeled as one of the world's largest recycling projects. The City opted to move the 14-year-old, 72 ton steel-truss bridge from the Mercury Mine School to a new site over the Greenway Parkway near Aire Libre Elementary School 6 mi (9.6 km) away. The process involved closing a major road for two hours before dawn on June 21, 1992. The total cost of the bridge relocation project was only $12,000.

New ramps, spiral staircases and footings were designed to comply with American with Disabilities Act standards. The bridge was reconstructed, and minor artistic additions designed by a local artist improved aesthetic appeal and created the appearance that the bridge had always been located there. The ramps cantilever over an adjacent drainage channel to make efficient use of the available space. Additionally, a block wall was built to mitigate the privacy and roadway noise concerns of neighboring property owners.


The project is an excellent example of how cooperation between public agencies and community members can produce creative alternatives that improve quality of life while saving valuable public funds. At the time, the principal of Aire Libre Elementary School indicated that over 60 students use the pedestrian bridge every school day. The "recycled" bridge is not only useful and visually pleasing, but cost approximately $500,000 less than building an entirely new bridge. The primary costs of the bridge relocation were the construction of the spiral staircase and ramp, aesthetic improvements to the structure, decorative walls and extensive landscaping, which totaled $484,000.

Before the installation of the bridge, two crossing guards were stationed at the 20th Street intersection. Now only one crossing guard is stationed for the morning and afternoon school commute periods to ensure that students are crossing Greenway Parkway via the pedestrian bridge rather than crossing at the intersection. Several years after the bridge was placed, a traffic signal was installed at the intersection of Greenway Parkway and 20th Street, but pedestrian crossings at the signal are prohibited. Signs are posted alerting pedestrians to cross via the pedestrian bridge.

Because the Parkway was built roughly at the same time that the bridge was installed, there is no pre-bridge collision or speed data available. Between 2007-2011, no pedestrian collisions were reported at this location. Safety appears to have been significantly improved, especially for the dozens of students crossing the busy Parkway every day.


Thomas L. Godbee, P.E.
City of Phoenix
Street Transportation Department
200 West Washington Street
Sixth Floor
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Phone: (602) 262-7436