Dutch bridge among longest single-span composite bridges in the world

The Ooypoort bridge in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, features a span of 56m/184 ft, is manufactured of poyester and glass fiber, and is designed to accommodate house boats and flood conditions.

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On Feb. 27, the composite pedestrian bridge Ooypoort was officially opened in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. It connects Nijmegen to Ooijpolder, a nature reserve located on the banks of the Waal River. The bridge is the work of Meerdink Bruggen (main contractor), Olaf Gipser (architect) and Delft Infra Composites (structural engineering and production).

The bridge structure consists purely of glass fiber-reinforced polyester. With its span of 56m/184 ft, it is among the longest single-span composite bridges in the world.

Lightweight Structures BV (Delft, the Netherlands) did the structural design and analysis of the bridge. The complete bridge was modeled via finite element analysis (FEA) and analyzed. All composite parts were produced by vacuum infusion of polyester resin in non-crimp glass reinforcements. Because of its dimensions, the bridge had to be produced in three sections that were subsequently joined together. The steps were produced separately and were subsequently bonded onto the deck of the bridge to form the stairway.

By inland barge, the bridge was transported from its production site in Breukelen to the city of Nijmegen. On Nov. 2, 2013, the bridge was hoisted on to its supports. In the following weeks, the steel and Azobe railings were installed, and the wear layer was applied.

One of the design criteria was that the house boats located in the side branch of the river should be able to pass underneath the bridge for maintenance, even in case of high water levels.  For extreme water conditions, it should even be able to hoist the bridge temporarily from its supports. Fitting the new approach to give the rivers more space rather than trying to restrict the water, the bridge is designed in such a way that it can be partly submerged in case of high water, without any damage to the structure.

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