A recent public pedestrian bridge has been inaugurated in Mexico City. The nature of this bridge is an unusual piece of infrastructure in Mexico City because of its characteristics: it is socially committed, aesthetically related to vegetation in a concrete saturated environment, and it will serve thousands of citizens a year. In addition, it offers universal accessibility in a motorized context.
It was originally proposed as part of a broader, more ambitious and more sophisticated mobility plan for the biggest and most visited urban park of Mexico City (Chapultepec), which receives more than 15 million visitors a year throughout its three sections. The original mobility plan (routes, bridges, architectural atmospheres) was designed by Jimena Garcia, Pablo Espinosa and Ernesto Valero Thomas, under the supervision of Daniel Escotto. The mobility study contemplated at least three more bridges and also the reconfiguration of different routes within the Chapultepec Park. The idea was to connect two metro stations (Auditorio and Constituyentes) by a pedestrian-cyclist bypass route which included four bridges treated as elevated gardens. The conceptual proposal was released on mid-2009.
The plan had an enthusiastic reception of the media, specially in the major circulation newspapers: Universal, Reforma, La Jornada, Milenio (Pedestrian Bridge. Fox News El Universal Mexico: El Universal 2012). However, at some point, the project was nearly cancelled, partially because different institutions were involved in the decisions and different design teams overtook the task. The budget (from both, public and private sponsors) was a fundamental challenge in the completion of the idea.
The final value of the bridge has been reported to be 17 million Mexican pesos (around 1 million Euros, 1.3 million US dollars or 760,000 British pounds). This public investment is very rare in Mexico City, where the ‘everyday infrastructure’ is normally regarded as secondary (not a priority) and also as the embodiment of anodyne constructions. Dozens of people have collaborated in this project throughout five years. My feelings as the original collaborator and conceptual author are mixed. Our intention was to offer a radical and more profound change in the mobility pattern of millions of users in Chapultepec; however, it is fundamental not to underestimate this achievement. This bridge is a small victory in the cultural battle for the welfare of pedestrians and cyclists of Mexico City.