June 3, 2012 in City

Lauding connections

By The Spokesman-Review

Participants in Spokane Bridge Walk 2012 cross a footbridge downtown on Saturday. Spokane Parks and Recreation held a hiking event open to the public to celebrate the Spokane River and the bridges that cross it.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Spokane Parks worker Mike Aho heard all sorts of guesses from colleagues about how many bridges cross the Spokane River between Monroe Street and the University District.

But none were close to the right answer, which is 22, from the Monroe Street Bridge downtown to the Don Kardong Bridge by the Gonzaga University campus.

Out of appreciation for the numerous crossings and the scenic river below, Aho created the Spokane River Bridge Walk, an annual event that has attracted hundreds of people since its inception in 2009.

Aho said he was inspired by another Northwest city that holds a similar celebration every year. “Portland has a bridge walk,” Aho said. And Spokane should have one, too, he decided.

Jill Kornelis with the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department estimated about 150 people registered for this year’s Bridge Walk Saturday morning. There’s a $9 registration fee, but Kornelis acknowledged that not everyone who takes the walk pays that.

Roughly 200 people attended last year, said Jerry Uruh, a volunteer for the event.

“The beauty is you get to see Spokane Falls multiple times from multiple angles,” Uruh said.

“Most people who live here their whole life really have not walked these or realized how many bridges there are.”

The event features a tour of 17 bridges along a casual 4.5 mile hike from the Monroe Street Bridge to the University District and back to the Looff Carrousel in Riverfront Park.

“We only do 17 of them because a couple of them (we) are incapable of walking on,” Aho said.

Most of the bridges are in Riverfront Park, and some are not passable by car. Several of the footbridges were built for Expo ’74.

Aho estimated this year’s event raised about $1,000 from registration fees. The money goes back to the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department.

He wants to explore expanding the walk out to the Trent Avenue Bridge for future Bridge Walks, but the route getting over there would be a little odd, he said.

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