One Oct. 18, 2011, the new Tempe Town Lake Pedestrian bridge opened, connecting the north and south shores of Tempe Town Lake. The bridge consists of 4 spans, each measuring 228 feet, weighing 165,000 lbs. The bridge protects the bladders of the dam from the sun and contains a built-in sprinkler system to cool the bladders when needed. This was the point of contention when one of the bladders failed on July 20, 2010, that the maintenance had been inadequate. The picture to the left was taken just days after the dam failed and sent over 750 million gallons of water down the Salt River. The lake was dry for 3 months before the dam was repaired and the lake refilled in October 2010.
At 9:45 pm on Tuesday, July 20th, one section of the inflatable dam at Tempe Town Lake burst releasing 750 million gallons into the Salt River. Since it occured at night nobody was on the lake and one visitor at the west end of the lake was able to capture the release on video. The day after the failure, the Town of Tempe and Bridgestone, the manufacturer of the inflatable bladders, squared off and each offered explanations of why the other party was at fault. Obviously, something went wrong somewhere because according to the Town of Tempe website, “The bladders have special ozone and ultraviolet ray protection from the southwestern climate and have been tested extensively for durability.” Bridgestone contends improper maintenance since the bladders need to be kept moist and cool through the use of a sprinkler system that was not being used at the time of the failure, while the Town of Tempe Mayor counters that the poor design of the dam made it difficult to use the sprinklers effectively.