Pedestrian bridge survives first game day


Katelyn Squiers

Thousands of football fans cross the newly opened pedestrian bridge at the first football game of the 2022 season.

Sunshine and partly cloudy skies cleared the way for thousands of football fans to stroll across the new pedestrian bridge for the first time on Saturday.

The bridge opened just in time for Iowa State’s football season opener against Southeast Missouri State after several months of construction.

In the hours leading up to the game, several people applauded the bridge’s appearance, but many were also waiting to test the bridge’s ability to handle heavy traffic.

“I’m a little worried about a human clog,” said Kate Sutton hours before kickoff. “But I’m keeping an open mind.”

By noon, one hour before kickoff, consistent traffic passed through the bridge with several empty pockets between people. Individual conversations could be picked out as groups walked across wearing various combinations of cardinal and gold.

By 12:30 p.m., foot traffic increased, and conversations mingled together as waves of people crossed the bridge with clear bags and beverages in tow. The average walking speed slowed at times but remained mostly consistent.

By 12:40 p.m., traffic began to stop and start periodically as fans flooded the structure. The frequency of stops continually increased as kickoff neared, but each pause lasted less than 10 seconds.

By 1 p.m., traffic cleared the first half of the bridge. As sirens and cheers erupted from the stadium, a crowd of fans still waiting to enter the stadium filled less than one fourth of the bridge.

“I don’t think there was necessarily a lot of jams,” said Caleb Otting, a sophomore studying supply chain management. “That could be the case in the later games when it’s more crowded, but either way it’s still gonna be nicer than what it was last year.”

Thousands of football fans cross University Boulevard each game day. Before the bridge’s construction, people would make this journey in the street amongst the car traffic.

“I think it’s so much safer for people to go across,” Kurt Bechthold said. “Before, you had to wait in line to cross the road and there was a lot of wait time, and it’s always dangerous when you’re mixing a bunch of people with traffic.”

The pedestrian bridge contains four sets of stairs and four cement benches near its center. Two of the stairways can be accessed from lot S7 of Jack Trice Stadium while the other two can be found near the Southeast Recreation Complex on the opposite side of University Boulevard.

Several fans crossed half the bridge before descending the stairs to lot S7 in search of an alternative entrance, but a majority of the crowd traveled the bridge from one end to the other.

The pedestrian bridge connects Jack Trice Stadium to a new recreational vehicle (RV) parking lot across University Boulevard near the Southeast Recreation Complex. In previous years, RVs parked in a designated region of the stadium parking lot.

The new location generates less tailgating foot traffic, which makes it safer for families and kids, Bechthold said.

However, this can also make it harder for RV campers to mingle with people outside the RV village.

“I’ve got several friends here that haven’t made their way over [to our spot], and when we were in [the old area], they would definitely stop by,” Hansen said.

In previous years, RV parking came on a first-come first-served basis, but the new lot includes assigned parking for each RV.

“Having assigned spots and very designated parking is so much easier,” Stephanie Hansen said. “It’s not parking chaos like we’ve had in the past. If you showed up late, forget trying to get in and forget trying to park a spot.”

Each designated spot comes with a plug-in for electricity, a grass area and a concrete driveway. The roads and walking pathways are paved with gravel.

“I wish they had used concrete for the pathways because some areas will go soft in the rain, but the lot has met or exceeded my expectations,” Garrett Reynolds said.

The pedestrian bridge and RV lot will face their next crowd of football fans when the Cyclones go head to head with the Ohio Bobcats on Sept. 17.