Should Houston have its own version of the Sydney Bridge Climb?I recently learned that there are plans to completely rebuild the Beltway 8 bridge over the ship channel even taller/higher than the existing (quite high) span. It reminded me of my own amazing experience climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge in 2014, which is the most popular tourist attraction in Sydney. And it is a *huge* moneymaker: roughly $250 per person, with groups of 12 ($3k!) going out every few minutes all day long - do the math! Honestly, it might generate more money than many of HCTRA's toll plazas.
So I'll raise the question: should we try to design our new bridge to offer a similar experience? Yes, I understand that the ship channel view is not exactly Sydney Harbor, and that Houston is not a tourist destination the way Sydney is, but I still think it could be a popular attraction with an impressive view worth integrating into the new bridge design. I will say from personal experience the view is only part of the experience - the thrill and adventure of the climb itself is a big part of it, and ours could be as impressive if not more than theirs. In fact, theirs has a lot of cumbersome safety overhead because the bridge was never designed for tourists to climb it (continuously connected safety harnesses and those blue jumpsuit outfits so you can't drop anything on the cars below). If tourist climbing was integrated from the beginning, a lot of that hassle (and cost) could be eliminated. There might even be an elevator and viewing platform option for the less adventurous (or disabled). And of course this assumes that the new bridge design would have very high tower pylons that would be worth climbing, not like the current design. If it's cable-stayed like the Fred Hartman bridge, the climb (and elevator) could be integrated into one of the tall tower pylons (like this one in Maine) and/or the large main cable, rather than along the steel arch like in Sydney.
So cool idea or crazy? A tourist attraction to put Houston on the map? Looking forward to your thoughts in the comments...