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Pedestrian bridge dedicated to girl struck by car

A glass bead hanging from his truck's rear-view mirror is Tim Macnamara's reminder of his late daughter, Arianna.

A new pedestrian and bicycle bridge over U.S. 14 west in Rochester is ours.

The 1,800-foot-long bridge, which has been open for about a week, will have a ceremonial grand opening Thursday.

It will be dedicated to Arianna, who was 7 years old when she was struck and killed by a car on June 16, 2006, as she and family members crossed West Circle Drive at Third Street Northwest. The driver pleaded guilty to a series of misdemeanors and served 30 days in jail.

The pain of her loss is something Arianna's family has worked — and to some degree, still works — to overcome.


It is a pain other families might be spared thanks to the new bridge, city council member Michael Wojcik said. He proposed naming the bridge for Arianna. A plaque bearing her name will be posted at the south end.

"This is what we need to do in the future — to build a (bike trail) system that is as safe as possible for our kids," he said.

The bridge spans part of a gap between the city's central trail system and the south end of the Douglas Trail, which runs through northwest Rochester and beyond.

The bridge passes over U.S. 14, an industrial area, the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad and two branches of Cascade Creek. It ends, for now, at Seventh Street Northwest, but it has footings capable of carrying bridge spans farther north, city officials said.

The bridge includes physical equipment that was used for temporary bridges in the U.S. 52 reconstruction project several years ago, and its $3 million cost was covered primarily using federal and state grants, with relatively little local taxpayer cost, city officials said.

"It's beautiful," bicycle commuter Dave Rossman said of the view from the bridge. "It's kind of fun — brings you in right downtown."

Rossman, a senior project engineer at Yaggy Colby Associates and past city traffic engineer, will lead the ceremony Thursday.

The Macnamaras, friends and supporters all plan to attend, Tim Macnamara said.


The bridge dedication "feels like a blessing," he said. "We feel good about how we survived."

Tim, along with his wife, Christina, and sons Joseph, 13, and Matthew, 9, coped with the loss of Arianna by relying on friends and faith.

"For me, I find when June 16 rolls around, I get a little depressed," Tim said. "I don't wallow in it. Like I tell my kids — the accident can be a curse or a blessing. I want to believe it's a blessing."

"We want our kids to go to heaven," he said. "Arianna just got there first."

--> The bridge spans part of a gap between the city's central trail system and the south end of the Douglas Trail. Read about it in Wednesday's print editon.

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