FRP chosen for New York pedestrian bridge as part of 9/11 rebuild project

The West Thames pedestrian bridge comprises FiberSPAN fiber-reinforced polymer decking from Composite Advantage.
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fiber reinforced plastic bridge from Composite Advantage

Source | Composite Advantage

Manhattan has an estimated 1.63 million people living in 23 square miles, making the New York borough one of the most crowded places in the U.S. Pedestrian bridges across roadways help connect people to various sections of the city.

The West Thames pedestrian bridge to Battery Park City has been more than a decade in the making. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, a temporary pedestrian bridge was installed on Rector Street, but in 2017, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Battery Park City Authority chose Composite Advantage’s (Dayton, Ohio, U.S.) FiberSPAN fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) pedestrian bridge system for the permanent structure.

The FRP West Thames Street crossing, which opened to the public in late 2019, spans 230 feet over six-lane West Street and Hudson River Greenway, giving pedestrians a direct connection to Battery Park City from the Financial District.

According to Composite Advantage, the FRP pedestrian bridge is the first of its type in New York City, sporting a glass roof, lighting and an elevator and stairwell at each end. The 16 panels of FRP decking are supported by a two-span steel lenticular truss bridge.

Composite Advantage designed the structure to meet performance requirements that included a 90 psf live load and a deflection rating of L/360. The deck area totaled 3,482 square feet, with deck panel dimensions of 12.9 feet by 12.9 feet, a deck depth of 4 inches, and a deck weight of 8.4 psf.  

“We’re seeing an uptick in use of FRP on signature pedestrian bridges,” says Scott Reeve, president of Composite Advantage. “Corrosion resistance, light weight and the design flexibility of FRP make it an attractive option. But we’re also finding that our FRP bridge products are being adopted because they are becoming a robust conduit for helping people make connections in congested urban areas.”

FiberSPAN bridge deck features included curbs, access to utilities underneath, and a long-lasting, non-slip overlay of quartz aggregate polymer.

The prefabricated FRP decking traveled from Ohio to Red Hook, Brooklyn, where it was installed on the West Thames Street pedestrian bridge. The fully assembled structure then traveled by barge to Battery Park City, where it was installed overnight for minimal traffic disruption. 

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