The city of Mishawaka, Indiana, developed a circular system of pedestrian/bicycle trails on both banks of the St. Joseph River in the downtown district - part of which includes the new five-acre Robert C. Beutter Riverfront Park. Officially named the “River St. Joseph of the Miami’s Trail,” it was called The Riverwalk for short.
“The new Robert C. Beutter Riverfront Park was very successful and the city wanted to accelerate the entire project’s development,” commented Greg Holden, Project Manager for Lawson-Fisher Associates, Consulting Engineers. “It was decided to make The Riverwalk as attractive as possible and very accessible to pedestrians to help stimulate development of the property. So, the decision was made to include the pedestrian bridge in the second phase.”
The city wanted the bridge to be a signature structure that would make a statement and be highly visible. That desire drew them to the tall cable stayed design. Initially, a single span steel arch bridge was chosen, but environmental issues and construction costs were prohibitive when the project estimates came in over budget. They needed to develop an affordable prefabricated cable stayed bridge design that would meet the city’s design criteria of a tall, arched tower with decorative stainless steel art panels and a unique railing system that incorporates perforated aluminum panels. Contech able to accommodate all of the architectural and budget elements that the city and Rundell Ernstberger Associates, LLC, the landscape architect, wanted with a 236’ long Continental pedestrian bridge.
“One thing that makes this structure desirable is that it comes practically preassembled,” said Holden. “We like that these elements are built under factory controlled conditions and then bolted together on site. It’s very good quality control.”
The general contractor for The Riverwalk Park project, Northern Indiana Construction, Inc, handled the bridge installation. The firm had been involved with Contech before when they installed four other Continental pedestrian bridges elsewhere on the St. Joseph River, including a five span pedestrian bridge at Indiana University of South Bend. As part of the first phase of the project, Northern Indiana Construction, Inc. had already built an abutment for the proposed bridge structure and installed 2000’ of concrete retaining wall on the north side of the river.
The City of Mishawaka and its residents are very enthusiastic about The Riverwalk and its role as a catalyst to improve and revitalize the downtown district. City officials are also pleased with the new bridge.
“The city wanted a bridge that is captivating and announced that you have arrived downtown and we now have that,” stated Ken Prince, City of Mishawaka Planning and Economic Development Director. “ It connects the historic town site to The Riverwalk and marks the rebirth of our downtown.”