The Ohio State University began a renovation project to replace three outdated concrete pedestrian bridges located in the Tower District of campus. The existing structures were built in the 1960’s and were deteriorating due to age. The walkways linked Drake, Lincoln and Morrill Towers on the south side of Ohio Stadium, with one spanning Cannon Drive. The improvements also included landscaping and will provide safer walking surfaces and better ADA accessibility.
The routine maintenance for the structures was expensive for the university and they wanted a bridge product that would be economical in cost and fast in construction. Aesthetics were equally important in the structure choice and the university wanted more modern and visually appealing structures for the highly visible and trafficked location. The university worked with Schooley Caldwell Associates, the architect, and Kabil Associates, the project engineer, to choose a solution that could meet all of their needs.
“A prefabricated bridge structure was essential to the construction timeline and limited access to the project,” said Steve Munger with Schooley Caldwell Associates. “The university needed the bridges complete and open to pedestrian traffic in a very small window of time – from late June when students left for the summer to late August when football season began. When you factor in the time required to demolish the existing structure and prepare the site for new construction, the project could not have been completed if not for the use of a pre-engineered bridge.”
A custom-designed Continental® truss bridge structure from Contech Construction Products Inc. was chosen because it was prefabricated and pre-engineered, enabling a fast construction. The bridge was a Vierendeel style Truss with a painted finish and reinforced concrete decking.
A railing composed of custom powder-coated mesh panels was installed on the bridge structures for safety purposes and preset conduit openings were added to supply pathway lighting. The guards were designed to be removable so that, in the event of damage to one of the panels, it could easily be removed and replaced with a spare. The panels not only act as a guardrail, but serve to protect the lighting housings from impact damage.
“Lighting was crucial and it was important to have a fixture that looked integral to the bridge,” said Munger. “In order to do this and also meet the vandal resistance required by The Ohio State University, we concealed the conduit within the bottom chord of the truss and extended it to an opening in the vertical uprights. Contech accommodated our requirements by pre-pulling the conduit as part of the fabrication process, leaving only one field splice to occur at the time of installation.”
The project was on a tight timetable from both design and construction standpoints. The engineering was completed in the spring of 2010, making way for construction to start in the summer. The closure of Cannon drive took place in two separate stages. The road was closed for 2 weeks for the demolition of the existing 4 spans and 1 week for the installation of the bridge that spanned Cannon drive. While this did not mark the completion of the project, the road was re-opened and work was able to occur on and around the bridge without impeding vehicular traffic.
The bridge structures were completed and re-opened in time for the first home game – an Ohio State win against Marshall.