Destination Riverbanks, a $40 million expansion project at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, South Carolina, included a new entrance with improved guest facilities, a 500-car parking lot, new grizzly bear and river otter habitats, Sea Lion Landing, and a three-acre children's garden called Waterfall Junction. Much-needed improvements to the new entrance included the installation of a safer crossing for pedestrians over the active CSX railroad tracks.
"For more than a year, our guests had to cross an active railroad line to access the main Zoo entrance from our parking lot on Rivermont Drive," stated Satch Krantz, President and CEO of Riverbanks Zoo. "The new pedestrian bridge eliminated that hazard."
As the best solution, a 115' x 12' Keystone®-style Continental® truss structure was selected for its ability to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians over the railroad tracks with the design and materials selected in order to complement the look of the zoo entrance. Elevator towers and stairs are located on either side of the bridge providing zoo access to visitors, regardless of ability or mobility.
"The new zoo entry complex is a vast improvement over the old entrance," added Krantz. "It provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere to our more than one million annual visitors."
The $3.1 million entrance project, which included the pedestrian bridge, was funded by the Richland County Transportation fund, aka the Penny Program. Since its inception in November 2012 by voters, the transportation tax has generated $111.9 million with the majority of the money geared toward road widenings and intersection improvements, as well as special projects such as public transit, pedestrian, bike, and greenway upgrades.
"This project falls under the Special Projects category of the Richland Penny Program, and we are excited to be able to fund a project that will provide a safer alternative for visitors to Riverbanks Zoo," said Rob Perry, Richland County's Transportation Director.
The expansion of the Zoo, which is already the most popular tourist attraction in the state, is expected to increase tourism in the area and generate $60-70 million a year for the local economy.
"The preliminary design assistance provided by Contech Engineered Solutions was very helpful and significantly benefited the scope of the project," concluded Richard Jackson, P.E., Director of Civil Engineering with Jumper, Carter, Sease Architects, the project's engineer. "Overall, the project was on schedule and within budget in large part due to Contech’s efficient manufacturing capabilities and excellent field project management support. We look forward to working with Contech on future projects and anticipate similar results."