April 3, 2006

Cornell Closes Trolley Bridge to Begin Reconstruction

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As part of the recent uptick in campus construction, Trolley Bridge, which spans Cascadilla Creek between Bard Hall and Collegetown, will be closed to pedestrian traffic from today through Aug. 12 to allow for the construction of a new bridge.

The current bridge, which many students use to walk between the Engineering Quad and Collegetown, has rusted extensively due to the corroding effects of salt and a truss system that was difficult to maintain, according to project manager Gary Kochinksy.

“The old bridge has just seen better days,” Kochinsky said.

The excessive use of salt applied to the bridge during winter months year after year spilled over the steel sections, trapping water and salt and accelerating rust, Kochinsky said. The rust that accumulated along the bottom cords and panel points has also lowered the load capacity of the bridge, which is 85 pounds per square foot.

The $897,000 construction project will incorporate an electric deicing mat embedded in its concrete deck, which officials hope will eliminate the need for heavy snow plowing and salting. Using an electric de-icing mat could ensure that the new bridge lasts longer, since it was the constant influx of salt that gradually wore down the current bridge.

The new bridge will also expand its width to 11 feet, with a 10 feet wide walkway (the current bridge is seven feet, with a six-foot-wide walkway). The new bridge will also have aluminum bridge railings and lights on both ends to boost pedestrian safety, according to Kochinsky.

“I can’t for the life of me figure it out, it’s just that everything has come together at one time,” Kochinsky said of this year’s increase in campus construction projects, which include the renovation of the Thurston Avenue Bridge, expansion of Lynah Rink and the parking garage on Hoy Road.

Kochinsky had hoped to rebuild the bridge several years ago but was unable to receive funding. Cornell officially approved the project in 2004 and an engineer laid out a plan for the project in 2005, but a delay in the fabrication of necessary steel girders pushed construction to this year.

“Receiving steel and concrete materials and precast products on time has been a problem in the last couple of years,” Kochinsky said.The construction team, which will largely consist of contractors from construction company L.C. Whitford, will have around 20 people on the site at one time, according to Kochinsky.

The team will begin by constructing new abutments and piers, placing new steel girders on the piers and using the new girders to support existing utilities – steam lines that carry heat to the Schwartz Performing Arts Center and telecommunications and electric lines – which run underneath the bridge. The team will then tear down the old bridge by using the new bridge as platform, construct the new concrete deck and install lights. (the team will)

The area will also see other construction projects soon: the replacement of Snee Hall’s roof, renovation of the Civil and Environmental Engineering lab and several smaller projects at Bard Hall. But construction should not significantly impact the availability of parking nearby, according to Frank Perry, Cornell’s projects manager and coordinator, who estimated that no more than eight to 10 spaces in the area would be eliminated at any time. Signs will help redirect traffic behind Snee Hall at the north end of the bridge, Kochinsky said.

Kochinsky had no information on the number of pedestrians who use the bridge, although it is widely used by Collegetown residents to reach the Engineering Quad, Ives Hall, Statler Hall and the Agriculture and Life Sciences Quad.

Although this closing comes on the heels of a slew of other construction projects resulting in detours, elimination of some parking spaces and sections of campus being cordoned off, Perry denied that Cornell has seen an increase in construction recently.

“There’s been more of an impact on parking [because of construction], so we’ve just been making the campus more aware of it,” Perry said.

Archived article by Maya Rao
Sun Staff Writer