The new sky bridge at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center has been secured over Avenue B between East Jefferson and Bannock streets, connecting the new Idaho Elks Children's Pavilion with St. Luke's Children's Hospital.
A team of construction workers recently installed the iconic steel-and-glass bridge in two days. The first day’s work entailed lifting the 90-ton bridge, moving it on to two large dollies and then slowly rolling the enormous structure from a lot on East Jefferson and down Avenue B, all under the watchful escort of the construction team. The box-truss bridge had been preassembled in the lot over the last two months.
The second day’s work started bright and early. Crews first attached the bridge to two huge, powerful cranes. Welders then detached the sky bridge from the dollies. The cranes then got to work, slowly hoisting the 123-foot-long sky bridge up in to the air and turning it at just the right angle. The bridge was then lifted to the construction crews, who were waiting on both ends of where the bridge would be installed.
The bridge is supported by the Idaho Elks Children's Pavilion on the east side and a new concrete pier tower on the west side. On the pavilion side, the bridge was bolted in place, with the welders adding more beams and columns. On the pier side, the installation was a bit different, Idaho Elks Children’s Pavilion Project Manager Jamal Nelson said.
"The bridge rests on an anchorable plate that has a stainless-steel separator and a Teflon expansion. That allows the bridge to rest but at the same time slide with movement," Nelson explained while still closely watching his crews in action on Saturday, Dec. 16.
"It was designed to be (anchored) 12 feet away from the hospital and completely independent, so it can move in the event of an earthquake."
Nelson says the two-day technique, with the main installation work being done on a weekend day, was selected to have the least impact on the surrounding neighborhoods and traffic as well as to make it safer for the community and his workers.
“When you plan something and see it come together, and it’s not just this moment, it’s all the things that lead up to this moment,” Nelson said. “Really watching it all unfold is the easy part.”
Nelson says the construction teams must still complete the bridge and finish the connection in to St. Luke's Children's Hospital, but he’s proud of the work they’ve accomplished so far. He hopes community members will feel the same once they see the new sky bridge in person.
"I think they're going to think it's beautiful. I look at it, and I think it's a piece of art. That's why I love my job. It's art. It's science. It's creativity. It's everything. This is beautiful, both in structure and in everything it represents," Nelson said.
Not only will the bridge allow young patients with complex medical needs to be able to easily and seamlessly transfer from their doctors’ offices directly to the hospital, it will also allow physicians to more easily see patients both in their clinics and those who are unexpectedly admitted to the hospital.
The Idaho Elks Children's Pavilion is under construction across from St. Luke's Boise Medical Center. The state-of-the-art four-story, 100,000 square foot building will not only double clinical space for Children's Hospital, but also improve vital services by uniting most of the area's pediatric specialists under one roof. Instead of multiple stops to various doctors spread out around town, patients will be able to see experts in one kid-friendly location all in one day.
In addition to doctors' offices, the Children's Pavilion will include a Family Resource Center that lets moms and dads stay connected and get information needed to care for their children, a Sibling Clubhouse to keep brothers and sisters entertained during long appointments, and the demonstration kitchen where families can learn to cook for children with special dietary needs.
The $42 million facility is scheduled to open in summer of 2019 and was built thanks to our generous community and close to $25 million in donations.
Anita Kisseé was the Treasure Valley public relations manager for St. Luke’s Health System.