Guest Editorial: Bridging A Small Community Together

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Millions of people cross thousands of bridges every day and think nothing of it. Especially for big, busy cities – it’s simply a method to get people from point A to point B. But for one rural Arizona community, a new pedestrian bridge meant everything.

Photo by Rawlings Specialty Contracting

The long-awaited, ten-year project of the Billy Creek Pedestrian Bridge along Porter Mountain Road in Pinetop-Lakeside is a dream finally realized for the small community. As detailed in a recent White Mountain Independent article, concerns surrounding the safety of the 1970 Billy Creek Bridge goes back as far as 2007, as it presented a critical danger to Blue Ridge students and pedestrians who shared the road with an increase in vehicles and traffic.

In the fall of 2019, the town of Pinetop-Lakeside awarded Rawlings Specialty Contracting the contract for the bridge for $1.3 million with anticipation the bridge would be completed in one year.

But the completion of the Billy Creek Pedestrian Bridge stands for something more than just a unique city infrastructure improvement. It’s a symbol.

As stated by Blue Ridge Unified School District Michael Wright during the bridge’s ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this month:

“It’s fitting we’re gathered here today to celebrate the completion of a bridge. Never before have bridges been more important. Metaphorically speaking, bridges help connect people from all walks of life; they serve the rich and poor and people from all backgrounds. Of course, bridges are especially important today when people seem so divided.”

Photo by Barbara Bruce/Independent

At a time when the country and our communities are filled with unrest and uncertainty, this small town project is a reminder that even simple projects can provide an opportunity to come together beyond platitudes and political divides to support an improvement that benefits all.

It is a reminder than even in big, urban cities we have a chance to build communities that focus on inclusion, connectivity, safety and growth. Whether it is a beautiful new mural, improvements to our local parks or supporting a local causes that have been significantly impacted by the pandemic – there is an opportunity to put aside division and discover new, creative ways to bridge people together.