San Diego, CA (December 1, 2020)–The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of California recognized University of California San Diego (UCSD) and primary design consultant Kleinfelder with an Engineering Excellence Honor Award for the UCSD Mesa Housing Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge.

The project involved design and construction of a $10 million bridge, linking the Mesa Graduate Housing neighborhood with the Medical Center campus. The bridge spans 465 linear feet and features a 10-foot-wide bike lane and a 6-foot-wide pedestrian walkway.  As the lead design firm, Kleinfelder was responsible for providing expert studies to determine bridge alignment based on several factors including cost, construction ease, environmental impacts, and community value.

A three-span precast concrete spliced-girder bridge was selected for its combined aesthetics, durability, and cost effectiveness. Because the bridge crosses an environmentally sensitive area, permanent and temporary supports could not be used within the canyon. This resulted in a 190-foot middle span which required extensive analyses to demonstrate its constructability amidst adjacent project construction, steep grades, environmental restrictions, and potentially contaminated soil. 

Kleinfelder’s innovative use of spliced precast concrete girders in the bridge design accommodated the relatively long span length and minimized environmental impact, while extensive analysis of construction scenarios during the design phase helped navigate a complex construction sequence and accurately predict deformations of the bridge to ensure a straight deck profile.

The bridge’s unique aesthetic features, including significant curvatures in the edge of the deck and varying inclination of metal railings along the length of the bridge, made it essential to balance aesthetics and structural requirements in the design.

The unique aesthetics, design, and architectural considerations enhance the community and provide the public with a bridge meant for both movement and repose. The center of the span is straight to encourage continual movement, while the ends invite lingering and chance meetings within the spaces created by the warps and cups of the bridge profile.  The flowing design provides a visual transition to the natural canyonside, helping the bridge blend into the natural environment.  

By providing a significantly shorter, safer route to almost every part of campus, the bridge enhances access and connectivity and encourages walking and biking. The separate bike lane and pedestrian walkway allows pedestrians to feel safe walking alongside faster modes of transit while encouraging micro-mobility.

By bringing innovative ideas and solutions to the bridge design and construction process, the project team achieved a balance of safety, functionality, environmental sensitivity, community value, aesthetics, and cost savings.