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New Pedestrian Drawbridge Adds Missing Piece to Cleveland’s Harbor Loop

<strong>New Pedestrian Drawbridge Adds Missing Piece to Cleveland’s Harbor Loop</strong>

Earlier this year the North Coast Harbor pedestrian bridge opened to the public, connecting the Great Lakes Science Center to Voinovich Bicentennial Park in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Plans for the structure were solicited in 2019. The city of Cleveland and the Ohio Department of Transportation chose Creative Composites Group’s Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) lightweight molded panels for the new double dutch style bascule bridge.

“Typically these bridges are constructed with a steel grid deck,” says Matt English, structural division project manager for The Ruhlin Company. “But you can’t put too much weight on a movable bridge. It has to maintain balance. Lightweight, corrosion-resistant FRP panels also allowed us to use smaller gears, motors and counterweights to pivot and open the spans for river traffic.”

Performance criteria called for a uniform pedestrian live load of 90 psf, a vehicle maximum load rating of 8,000 lb. [wheel load], and a wind uplift load of 20 psf. Other requirements included Class II fire resistance and a deck operating range of -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. To streamline the drawbridge function and reduce the need for complex joints and connections, two large FRP panels [one for each side] were prefabricated with curbs, drainage scuppers and a railing attachment. Each panel was 51 ft. long and 13 ft., 8-in. wide. Deck thicknesses ranged from 7.5 in. to 8.75 in.

English worked with CCG to design the tight tolerance bolted connections that attached the FRP panels to the steel superstructure. “We had to install the connections from a boat and ensure there were no gaps,” he says. “Pre-drilled holes for the stainless steel railing worked out well as did the walking surface. CCG recommended its hybrid non-skid technology system which has been so effective that the city of Cleveland decided to add it to the surface of the structure’s concrete approaches. The product originally specified wouldn’t have held up under the bridge’s high traffic volume.”