Work is “progressing well” on a pedestrian bridge at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Somerset County.
Park Director Jeff Reinbold says the 800-foot bridge will span some wetlands and be a key section of the 1.7-mile pathway to connect the under-construction visitor center with the crash site.
“As you come down to these ponds, you will see that heron and ducks and geese are coming back to the site, and it was important to the design that people also see the rebirth of this site from what was a previous strip mine and a deep mine that life is coming back to it.”
Flight 93 went down in a reclaimed strip mine as passengers wrestled with four terrorists who hijacked the jetliner.
Reinbold said the architect believes the return of the wildlife is a fitting metaphor “for the rebirth of people as well as they come back to the site and the connection to the crash of Flight 93 and the inspiration of the passengers and the crew and their actions.”
The curving steel bridge is part of the $18 million to $24 million Phase 2 construction of the park.
“(It’s a) very dramatic bridge, part of this longer walkway, and it not only takes you down by the wetlands, it also gives you a wonderful view of the crash site and marble wall of names in the distance,” Reinhold said.
On that wall are the names of the 33 passengers and seven crew members who were killed in the crash of Flight 93.
The bridge will not be open to the public until September 2015 when the whole pathway is completed as well as the visitor center which will give people “an introduction of the story of Flight 93.” Then visitors can “think about what they’ve seen,” Reinbold said.
“So you’ll have the opportunity to walk or drive down to the crash site and as you get closer to the crash site, the story and the crash site get more intimate and more personal," he said. "You go from sort of the grand story of the events of September 11th as you slowly make your way down to the crash site you come down to where the final resting place of the passengers and crew is.”
Reinbold said the Flight 93 National Memorial gets about 300,000 visitors a year to “pay their respects,” but he expects that to increase to a half million per year after the visitor and learning centers with permanent and changing exhibits and events open in 15 months.