Beginning in May of last year, the trip around nearby Lake Hodges by foot or bicycle got about nine miles shorter.

Formally named the “David Kreitzer Lake Hodges Bicycle Pedestrian Bridge” in honor of a long-time supporter of parks and volunteer, the more than $10 million span connects trails in Rancho Bernardo to trails in Escondido — and allows hikers and cyclists to avoid a long detour in order to circle the lake.

Located about 1,000 feet west of Interstate 15, the stressed ribbon style bridge is 990 feet long and 12 feet wide and worth the time of local residents to explore — even if it’s just to walk across and back. Benches are provided for people to stop, rest and enjoy the view.

It is the longest stressed ribbon bridge in the world, and one of only six similarly styled structures in the Western Hemisphere. Long and thin, the design allows the bridge to be light but strong. It’s deck is made of 87 precast concrete panels (10 feet long and 16 inches thick) that rest on support cables from shore to shore. The style — designed by T.Y. Lin International and Safdie-Rabines Architects — was selected for two primary reasons: It enables a long span between piers in the lake (330 feet, so only two piers are necessary); and it enables a narrow profile. According to county officials, this makes the bridge aesthetically pleasing and a match for the scenic reservoir — and also lessens the impact on the environment and wildlife. Lighting is powered by solar panels atop a structure that forms a shaded seating area on the north shore adjacent to the bridge.

Construction began on the project in February 2007, under the supervison of FCI Constructors. Planning began more than a decade ago by the San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority, which also selected the bridge’s name. Kreitzer, a Rancho Bernardo resident and former San Diego County Planning Commission chairman, is a longtime supporter of San Dieguito River Park.