San Diego Zoo finishes bridge linking east-west

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SAN DIEGO — Traversing a hilly portion of the 100-acre San Diego Zoo just got measurably easier, thanks to the recent opening of a long-planned pedestrian bridge linking the west and east sides of the Balboa Park attraction.

Canopy Bridge, as it is being called, is elevated 70 feet above the canyon floor and spans 450 feet between Elephant Odyssey on the west and the Treeptops area near Gorilla Tropics. Construction began 11 months ago.

Not only does the footbridge shave time off the walk between the front and back of the zoo, but it also bypasses a longer, circuitous route through hills and canyons that is not easily accessed by individuals with disabilities.

Conceived some 40 years ago, the $14 million project is the realization of a dream by zoo architect David Rice, who wanted to find a way to more easily span the canyon that bisects the zoo.

“Like so much of San Diego, there are mesas and canyons in the zoo,” explained Rice, corporate director of architecture for San Diego Zoo Global. “Historically, there have been lots of efforts to help the guests get around, like the buses and Skyfari. But the bridge makes it really convenient now, and it’s also an important aspect of our accessibility plan.”

He noted that the zoo has long had moving sidewalks in the area, but they were too narrow and steep to be truly accessible.

“As we continue to rebuild the zoo and build new exhibits, this new bridge will tie all these things together.