Sunday, July 10, 2005

COLUMN: Skybridge

(Okay, yeah, I got the idea for this column in the paper based on some earlier blogging I did on this site. Apologies if the material is a bit "familiar." I'm waiting for snide letters from Davenport city council members.)

Six million, eight hundred thousand dollars. Wow, that's a lot of money.

If I had that kind of cash, I'd buy myself a fancy home and fancy car. Maybe I'd even get one of those guitar-shaped swimming pools. Granted, I don't know how to swim, but that's OK. With that kinda bread, I could hire Michael Phelps to teach me.

With $6,800,000, I could throw money around left and right. I could do something completely crazy. I even could build a block-long bridge that connects nothing to nothing.

Too bad the city of Davenport beat me to it.

Unless you're blind, you've seen it. The new crown jewel of Davenport -- the River Music Skybridge -- opened a few weeks ago. And yes, at a budget of $6.8 million, it's EXACTLY what Davenport needs.

Impoverished neighborhoods in desperate need of grants and revitalization? Pshaw, I say to you! A school system always in need of better funding and higher standards of quality? Don't be ridiculous! A levee to stop the entire downtown from flooding every five years? That's commie talk, mister.

No, we've spent countless man-hours assessing the REAL problem facing the citizens of Davenport, and that problem, obviously, is the pedestrian crosswalks of River Drive.

These menacing downtown intersections have plagued us as a people for far too long. Thank God the city finally has come up with an easy-to-achieve solution.

That's right, no longer will you have to wait those interminable 30 seconds for the light to change to cross the street. No longer will you experience that aching neck pain as you first look left and then right before proceeding through the crosswalk. (After all, it is SO hard to find a chiropractor in this town!)

Yes, thanks to modern technology, the solution to crossing River Drive now is as easy as going a block out of your way, scaling four flights of stairs, walking across a psychedelic nightmare, then back down four flights of stairs. Just like that, you have defeated the crosswalk menace.

Perhaps I'm being too hard on the Skybridge. As a rule, I like shiny new stuff.

Some of my friends are into antiques and old, cumbersome Victorian homes and such. Not me; I want angular, post-modern, technologically-evolved buildings that make me go "oooh." And you've got to give Davenport kudos for making that happen with their River Renaissance project.

No longer does the downtown look like some dilapidated Mark Twainian pipe dream. The addition of the Skybridge, Figge Art Center, and even last decade's River Center have given Davenport the kind of downtown I WANT to see on a postcard.

None of this, however, explains the purpose of the Skybridge. The thing is impressive looking, sure, but it doesn't change the fact that it connects NOTHING to NOTHING.

A cool pedestrian bridge like that should lead from one important tourist-trap destination to another. Instead, it leads from a stairwell to a stairwell, and that seems kinda pointless.

Of course, not pointless enough to stop me and my friends from going last week to walk the Skybridge. That was when the REAL shock and awe hit. If the outside of the bridge isn't weird and modern enough looking for you, wait till you check out the inside.

A rainbow of colored lights swoosh and whirl as you stagger across the bridge in a futuristic, psychedelic haze -- it's 2005: A Tacky Odyssey, right in your own back yard.

The 10-year-old in me LOVES it. The view from the Skybridge is awesome, and the light show on the inside was so impressive, in a juvenile way, that all I could muster was a nervous "hehehehe" all the way across.

But is that "hehehehe" worth $6.8 million? The 10-year-old in me says an enthusiastic "yes"; while the 34-year-old in me would like to comment, but he's too busy shaking his head in disbelief.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You managed to paint a very misleading picture. The city only paid $500,000 for the skybridge. The state of Iowa and Isle of Capri paid the rest. The Vision Iowa fund wasn't set up to pay for schools or roads, unfortunately.

The skybridge does connect more than "nothing". Within steps of either end of it are a parking garage, the RME, Centro, Savitri's, the casino and LeClaire Park.

Come to think of it, the St. Louis arch is just a giant bridge to nowhere! There's nothing but grass around it! And I've been to St. Louis. They REALLY could have used some money on schools and inner-city renewal. What a waste.

I'm not saying the skybridge comes close to comparing to the arch. But here's an example of how we used it. We had a rehearsal dinner for my brother's wedding at Centro, and the skybridge was the perfect place to take all of our out of town guests (including guests from St. Louis) to show them the landmarks around the Quad Cities - Centennial Bridge, John O'Donnell, the Figge, the District, Augustana, the Arsenal, lock & dam, etc...