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American Tobacco Trail Bridge

When the city of Durham, North Carolina wanted to unite two sections of a 22-mile rails-to-trails project, it turned to WSP USA to provide a safe and effective signature pedestrian bridge to span across Interstate 40.

 

American Tobacco Trail Bridge

The firm was hired as project manager, responsible for the design, planning, construction management, construction inspection and other aspects related to the creation of 4 miles of the trail and bridge; the majority of which followed an abandoned railroad bed once utilized by the American Tobacco Company. The team also included architecture firm Steven Grover and Associates, which designed the bridge as well as worked closely with WSP in designing the fence system. 


The most notable part of the structure is the exceptionally thin 9-inch deck, which included 12 post-tensioned tendons for support. Because of this unique design, the firm faced constructability challenges, but eventually found a suitable partner in Blythe Construction of Charlotte.

Completed in 2014, the structure – the largest hybrid stressed ribbon bridge of its kind in North America – spans 210 feet and is in close proximity to amenities such as a movie theater, retail shopping and dining.

In 2015, the project earned a national recognition award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). The structure also received the 2015 Grand Award from the North Carolina chapter of the ACEC. 

For its award-winning innovation, coupled with its unique design, the American Tobacco Trail Bridge will serve as a model for future structures of its kind.