The First Cable-Stayed Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge in California Rides Gracefully Over a Freeway

April 30, 2009

The Mary Avenue Bicycle Footbridge was opened in the city of Cupertino in California’s Santa Clara County, which encompasses much of the region popularly known as Silicon Valley. The 503-foot (153.3-meter)-long bridge, which crosses over Interstate 280 and connects the north and south sections of the Stevens Creek Trail, has the distinction of being the Golden State’s first cable-stayed bridge for bicycle and pedestrian traffic that is located above a freeway.

The bridge also serves as a link between Cupertino and the nearby city of Sunnyvale. Approximately 1,000 bicyclists and pedestrians showed up for the bridge’s debut. Others in attendance included officials representing Cupertino, Sunnyvale, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

Caltrans Director Will Kempton said at the time, “It’s a very, very beautiful bridge.” As part of the opening ceremonies, four local residents on bicycles had the honor of being the first individuals to cross the new bridge. These individuals included avid bicyclist Don Burnett, a one-time mayor of Cupertino who had staunchly pushed for construction of the bridge.

“The Mary Avenue Bicycle Footbridge is a signature piece,” stated Cupertino City Manager Dave Knapp several months after the bridge’s opening. “I like to think of it as the second-most recognizable bridge in the Bay Area.” The city of Cupertino received a Helen Putnam Award for Excellence from the League of California’s Cities for the design and construction of the bridge.

Burnett died the year after the bridge he had long championed was finally opened. In 2011, the structure was renamed the Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge in his honor.

For more information on the Don Burnett Bicycle-Pedestrian Bridge (formerly the Mary Avenue Bicycle Footbridge), please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Burnett_Bicycle-Pedestrian_Bridge.

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