Catholic school students’ artwork adorns new bridge
By Nissa LaPoint
Photo by James Baca/DCR:
Students from Guardian Angels School strode across the fresh concrete of the long-awaited Pecos Street Bridge Nov. 17 that is adorned with their own self-designed ceramic tiles.
Those students along with some state and local officials were the first to walk across the new 1,100-foot bridge built near Interstate 76 and West 62nd Avenue after unveiling a few of the 224 tiles they made to help beautify it.
“Our community has been waiting and anticipating this day,” said Principal Mary Gold of Guardian Angels during a dedication ceremony for the bridge. “Thank you for helping our students develop skills which will encourage active citizenship.”
All of the school’s kindergarten through eighth grade students were asked to make a design for a 12-inch by 12-inch tile for the bridge that was built to allow commuters’ access to Pecos Street south of 62nd Avenue.
Since 2004, trains stopped on the tracks that crossed the street and had blocked traffic for nine to 12 hours a day, according to officials.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for the route to our school to be reopened,” said Gold, who added that many parents had to drive over to Federal Boulevard to reach the school located at Pecos Street and West 52nd Avenue.
In 2007, Adams County, the Federal Highway Administration, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Union Pacific decided to build the overpass and formed a public-private partnership. The organizations pooled resources to make construction of the bridge possible and funded the students’ art project to add to the aesthetics.
Costs totaled $38.9 million for the bridge and construction of 62nd Parkway, with Union Pacific contributing $14.4 million and the Federal Highway Administration contributing $15.7 million, according to Adams County.
It’s county officials’ hope that the project offered an opportunity to educate children about aesthetics needed for infrastructure and encouraged them to want to take care of the bridge, according to Ruth Kedzior, assistant county administrator.
The art teacher at Guardian Angels, Emmie Wood, worked with students since August to plan, design and create the tiles.
“It was a lot of work,” Wood said. “We all collaborated in class. They learned about composition.”
The children will be responsible for maintaining the tiles by monitoring and replacing broken ones as well as figuring out themes for future tiles, according to Kedzior.
Many students attended the dedication Nov. 17 and showed their parents their tiles.
“I had two cars and one dragon,” said 8-year-old Anthony Montoya-Olivas Jr., a third-grader at Guardian Angels, about what he put on his tile.
His mother, Angelita Montoya, sees the tile project as not only a learning opportunity for her son, but a chance to raise awareness about the school.
“I think the bridge will help (others) realize the school is there and they can send their kids there,” Montoya said.
On-lookers who learned that the tiles will line the bridge along the fence, appreciated the time spent designing them.
“I think they’re awesome,” said Daisy Nagle, a traffic control supervisor, after looking at the tiles.
In the future, the bridge will provide the opportunity for the anticipated Regional Transportation District’s FasTracks rail station to be operating in 2016 below the bridge. The site will become a transfer station for the Gold and Northwest commuter rail lines that will go to Denver, Westminster, Arvada and Wheat Ridge, according to Adams County officials.
“I know this is a day the community has looked forward to for a long time,” said Greg Nadeau, deputy federal highway administrator. “There are a lot of valuable lessons here today from this overpass. Investing in our infrastructure is money well spent.”