March 27, 1995 in Nation/World

Sky’s No Limit Workers Install Two Skywalks Leading From Sta’s New Downtown Transit Center

By The Spokesman-Review
 

FOR THE RECORD: (March 29, 1995): The company that hauled the new skywalks for the Spokane Transit Authority bus station Sunday was BLT Transport and Crane Service of Spokane. The company was misidentified in a Monday article.

It was like hanging curtain rods - if the rods are more than 80 feet long, 20 feet high and 14 feet wide.

Workers spent all day Sunday moving and fitting two skywalks into place in downtown Spokane.

The skywalks connect the new Spokane Transit Authority bus station to the Sterling Savings building and the Seafirst Financial Center.

A crane made the delicate adjustments.

“We knew it was going to be a very slow and very careful process,” said STA Executive Director Allen Schweim. “There’s just not a lot of room for error when you have a gigantic piece of steel on a crane hook.”

The skywalk convoy started at dawn in Airway Heights, where Metals Fabrication Co. had kept the walkways.

Crews from American Ironworks and Erectors Inc. carried the skywalks on two tractor-trailer dollies. STA, Washington Water Power Co., Spokane police and the Washington State Patrol escorted the trucks.

Workers had to avoid low overpasses and railroad crossings, push aside dangling power lines and snake around close corners.

“It’s not just something you can take off with out of the driveway and down the street,” Schweim said.

Even when the skywalks arrived downtown, it wasn’t easy street. Especially with the skywalk that is now hanging over Riverside Avenue. That 100-foot span was 3 feet longer than the space between the Sterling Savings building and STA’s Plaza.

The crane picked up the skywalk from the dolly, slid one end into one hole, lowered the other side and jockeyed it into the other building.

It took several hours Sunday morning and another crane to slip the bridge into place.

“There was very, very little room for tolerance,” Schweim said. “It was designed to fit, and it fit.”

In the afternoon, workers positioned the bridge over Wall Street. That bridge, which is 80 feet long, was an easier fit.

STA administrators said they think Sunday was the first time two skywalks were installed on the same day in Spokane.

“This may have been a little piece of history in the making,” Schweim said.

It also was another piece in the construction of the STA’s $20.6 million bus station, a project marred by financial problems, delays and change orders since its inception.

But Sunday, everything appeared to go STA’s way even the weather.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Schweim said.

After sliding the bridges into place, workers welded the connections.

Vinnie Pinwoe leaned his head back and watched the sparks as workers welded over Wall Street.

“I watched the other one,” Pinwoe said. “They’re almost done.”

The skywalks will be opened when the STA complex opens probably in late June.

“It’s going to be great now that Seafirst is on the skywalk loop,” said Art Thoma, STA project manager. “And a lot of traffic is going to come to our facility through the skywalk.”

But not from some people.

“I walk,” Pinwoe said. “I lost my bus pass a long time ago.”

ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo


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