One man called it "Belmont's Golden Gate Bridge." Councilmember Christine Wozniak termed it "a bridge to somewhere." And in his opening remarks at Saturday's ribbon cutting ceremony, Belmont City Manager Greg Scoles called it "the dream that became a reality."
The official name for the pedestrian/bicycle bridge that spans US Highway 101 in Belmont is, "The Children's Bridge," and the inscription on the plaque at the base of the bridge's eastern entrance reads:
"Inspired by the children of Belmont and dedicated to all the people who worked tirelessly over many years to make this bridge a reality."
Saturday's dedication of the stunning new structure was full of civic pride---from the colorful flag ceremony by Cub, Boy and Girl scouts, to the rhythmic precision of the Carlmont High School drum line, to the speeches by local, state and federal officials, it was evident that Belmont was ready to unveil its bright blue bridge.
Mayor Coralin Feierbach, and a who's-who of mid-peninsula politicos stood shoulder- to-shoulder across the eastern entrance to the bridge at the Belmont Sports Complex, and snipped the modest yellow ribbon, releasing a throng of eager kids on bikes of all sizes on their inaugural ride.
Police Chief Don Mattei stood at the entrance to the bridge ensuring everyone got off to a safe start. Along the 2,460-foot route over Highway 101, CERT volunteers stood by to monitor the happy procession.
In her dedication speech, Mayor Feierbach reminded the crowd that the bridge was envisioned over 10 years ago by then public works director, John Curtis. "John had a vision of a safe means to cross over 101 to the sports fields and the Bay Trail," Feierbach said.
The list of involved agencies and funding sources is long, but it was clear on this sunny autumn morning that the time, energy and money dedicated to the bridge was well spent.
Brian Perkins, legislative aid to Congresswoman Jackie Speier read a statement in the congresswoman's absence, calling the bridge "a sculptural monument to a livable community."
The Children's Bridge not only connects the Sterling Downs neighborhood to the Belmont Sports Complex, it will serve as a gateway to recreational bikers and walkers on their way to the more extensive bike trails throughout Redwood Shores, Foster City and beyond. As Colin Heyne of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition reminded the crowd, "Our mission is simple: get more people on bikes going to work, school, and errands. How appropriate is it that a bridge designed by children will now ferry them safely across the freeway."
Students from Central, Cipriani and Nesbit elementary schools were challenged to submit bridge drawings to the city's public works department, incorporating what they thought the bridge should look like and who it would serve. From those drawings, bridge engineers designed the structure that now stands.
State Assemblyman Jerry Hill emphasized the commitment of Belmont City Council and city staff. He joked that he was considering learning to skateboard so he could experience the bridge aboard a board.
"Congratulations madam mayor," added Hill.
Speeches and thank-yous aside, it was clear that this day was meant for the kids of Belmont and surrounding communities.
Cub Scout Yousef Gharib attended the opening with his mother and two sisters. After taking his inagural ride across the bridge, he delclared "It was fantastic."