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While Salt Lake City slept early Sunday morning, work crews with the City Creek Center were building a once-controversial pedestrian walkway over Main Street.

By the time the sun rose, the steel framework for the sky bridge was firmly in place, spanning the roughly 140-foot reach between the Crossroads and ZCMI malls. The bridge will serve as the walkable connector for the $1.5 billion City Creek mixed-use development, linking the second levels of the two malls, wrote Dale Bills, director for communications and marketing for the LDS Church's City Creek Reserve Inc., in a news release.

The structure, which weighs about 320,000 pounds, is situated about halfway between South Temple and 100 South, over the City Center TRAX station, Bills wrote.

He said the work required a temporary closure of vehicle traffic on Main Street for two weeks, though TRAX service continued uninterrupted. Pedestrians were allowed on the block, except when the bridge placement took place. Main Street will reopen to vehicle traffic by Saturday.

Although the bridge won't be open to the public until 2012, crews needed to assemble and install the framework while steel work on surrounding buildings is under way, Bill wrote. Ultimately, the bridge will be enclosed and finished with art glass panels. About 150 workers, including employees of Jacobsen Construction, SME Steel and Mountain Crane, took part in the construction.

Installing the sky bridge might have been the easiest part of the job. For more than a year, debate over the walkway divided the city.

People against it argued it would kill Main Street, continuing a trend of empty sidewalks and boarded-up storefronts by keeping pedestrians off the street and inside the malls. Those in favor said it would become a landmark for the city while connecting the sprawling City Creek Center -- the span of which reaches from West Temple to State Street.

Former Mayor Rocky Anderson threatened to sell the air rights above Main Street to block the bridge, which he called a "gerbil tube" designed to trap people inside the malls.

The Salt Lake City Council approved the Main Street pedestrian sky bridge in April 2008, but not until the design for the sky bridge was revised.

The completed skywalk will have glass walls with designs etched into them. Overhead panels will open, while interior benches may usher photo ops. The idea is to soak up urban sounds, restaurant smells and breezes, said Ron Loch, vice president for planning and design for Taubman Centers, which is partnering with City Creek Reserve on the project.

Demolition work on City Creek began in November 2006 with the destruction of two aging malls and their parking structures, one office building and other structures. The church estimates that today there are about 1,500 construction workers toiling on 20-acre City Creek.

It will be at least another year before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is ready to reveal the specialty retailers that will make up its City Creek development in downtown Salt Lake City. The church is confident it will fill that component of the massive development in time for City Creek to be completed on schedule in early 2012. The project will include Macy's and Nordstrom department stores, a Harmons grocery store, 80 speciality shops, restaurants, a food court, several condominium buildings, apartments and office space.