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October 14, 2014

How Much Does a Pedestrian Bridge Cost? Part II: Design

In a recent blog, we discussed our most often asked question: "What is the cost of a pedestrian bridge?" The answer to this question can be broken down into three main components: Decking, design and size of your structure. We discussed decking; if you missed it you can read about it here. Let’s move on to design.

Outside of decking, the bridge design categories include truss, railing, and what GatorBridge likes to call “the fun stuff.” Whether you choose the base (most economic) design option or one of the various upgrades, your bridge is built with military grade aluminum to provide strength and corrosion for its long service life. Even better, your new aluminum structure will be fabricated by an expert team of welders. About half of our build-staff has worked at Gator for almost two decades.

Truss

When designing a bridge, your first choice is going to be the truss style. Often the truss style is just a matter of preference for our clients. In rare projects--those that require ultra-heavy loading capacities--our engineers may determine the truss needed.

The Cascade truss is our most popular option and is the most economical choice for most of our customers’ bridge needs. For bridges less than 25 feet long, however, the most economical truss is our Colonial.

The Contour truss features an arch across the top span of the bridge. The Contour footbridge often wins the prize for the most photogenic of the GatorBridge designs. Adding the arch to our Cascade or Atlantis truss styles, requires additional material.  This does increase the cost of the bridge in cases where the arch is not necessary for structural support.

Lastly, our Skyway truss was designed for H5 loading criteria. This stunning bridge style is a multipurpose truss that can be used for occasional vehicle loading as well as a pedestrian crossing. Of the truss designs we offer, the Skyway requires the most material and labor out.  Therefore, unless H5 loading is specified, Skyway is not the best choice for a budget-conscious client.

Railing

Railing, unless it is entirely custom, does not have a great impact on the final cost of your structure. Our standard railing, the combination rail, is a patented design that offers ADA compatibility and can meet tight budgets.

For a small increase in cost, the horizontal rail adheres to railing guidelines, but is best for cyclists and small vehicles. The railing components move in the same direction as traffic (unlike the combination, which has vertical components), and is therefore a better design choice for multi-purpose traffic such as pedestrians, bikes, golf carts, or even horses.

The Fun Stuff: Color, Cladding and Lighting

I am sure you have heard us say this before, but everything we do is custom. So if you want swirly-twirly railing… yep, we can build it for you. If you want a bridge that looks like a log bridge… we can do that, too (and we have done it). Don’t let our standard choices cap your bridge creativity. However, since this is a post about cost of a bridge, let’s go back to our more traditional design options.

Our favorite color for aluminum bridges? Their natural state: rust-free metallic. However, that has not stopped our clients from requesting all sorts of other color options. Most bridge designs, within some size parameters, can be powder coated any custom color. This customization adds to the total cost but can be worth it for some clients, like universities that want to display school colors in their landscapes.

Another popular option, cladding, adds natural design elements to the bridges modern architecture. Choose Ipe, pine or composite wood decking to clad the top chord of your bridge (see the Muir Beach bridge as an example.  (The image below shows Ipe decking on a foot bridge in Golden Gate National Park near Muir Beach, California.)

bridge-design-3

Gator can incorporate lighting on to bridges and docks through the use of light boxes or down-shine lighting components. Newly released lighting options also include handrail lighting. 

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