Photo courtesy of city of Tempe
Commuters traversing the I-10 Broadway Curve soon won’t miss the vibrant magenta sculptures, reminiscent of local cactus fruit, adorning the new pedestrian bridges under the Arizona Department of Transportation’s I-10 Broadway Curve Improvement Project. This aesthetic addition is the result of a collaboration with local Tempe artists, Matthew and Maria Salenger of coLAB Studio.
Construction crews have been active since June, erecting multi-use bridges between Baseline and Broadway Roads. These structures will facilitate safer crossings for pedestrians and cyclists traveling between Tempe and Phoenix. Key crossings are situated at Alameda Drive and the Western Canal, enhancing the already robust bikeway network in the region.
After a national search in 2019 for an artist that could encapsulate Arizona’s essence, a committee comprising community members, city officials, and artists selected the Salengers from 67 contenders. Their “City Fruit” design features 10 magenta sculptures atop each bridge, fashioned after the prickly pear cactus fruit. These art pieces are not only visually captivating but also play with sun and shadow, displaying hand-drawn patterns inspired by local flora.
Matthew Salenger described the installation as both quirky and earnest, aiming to celebrate the bridges as “tasty treats” or “City Fruit” for Tempe.
The Salengers, Tempe residents for over a quarter-century, have an extensive portfolio of public art installations and architectural ventures throughout the Valley.
These bridges, part of Tempe’s ambitious multi-modal transport vision, also sync with the ongoing Alameda Drive Bicycle and Pedestrian Street Improvement Project. Tempe, with 220+ miles of bikeways, enjoys a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community designation by the League of American Bicyclists. The new bridges promise a seamless, off-street conduit for countless annual travelers.
Tempe’s Director of Sustainability and Resilience Eric Iwersen lauded the bridges as a long-term vision realized. He highlights their significance in not only enhancing Tempe’s bike corridors but also forging a broader regional pathway system along the canals.
Funding for the artwork emanates from the Tempe Transit Tax and Municipal Arts funds, while the pedestrian bridges’ financing stems from a dedicated half-cent sales tax, approved by Maricopa County voters in 2004, and the Federal Highway Administration’s contributions.
Bridge construction is anticipated to extend into 2024. For ongoing project updates, visit i10broadwaycurve.com.