State-of-the-art span over Triphammer Falls -- best bridge by a damsite -- opens Dec. 9

ITHACA, NY -- What's 120 feet long, weighs 127 tons, and connects central campus and north campus at Cornell University? It's the new footbridge overlooking Triphammer Falls, Beebe Lake and Fall Creek, and it will be placed in service, beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9.

The old span, which was closed in the summer of 1995 because structural components had deteriorated, has been completely rebuilt at a cost of $782,000. The original footbridge was designed to be a temporary span, but remained in use for about 35 years.

The new bridge is two feet wider to accommodate the thousands of students and others who will use it daily. The new bridge also incorporates some "high-tech" solutions to snow and ice removal to help extend its life.

According to Gary Kochinsky, structural engineer in the university's Planning, Design and Construction (PDC) unit, there is an electric de-icing "mat" embedded in the concrete surface to reduce ice build-up and to make snow removal "almost unnecessary."

The bridge contractor also used a micro silica mix that includes concrete aggregates and additives to make the surface last longer, Kochinsky said. "We tried to make this a state-of-the-art bridge. Because of the extreme exposure conditions on and under the bridge, we turned to experts in Cornell's College of Engineering for advice. That input was very helpful and should give this new structure a much longer life than its predecessor."

In addition, non-corrosive aluminum was used for the railing on each side of the bridge, which is a popular place to view the lake, falls and creek. Its very location -- near water spray from the falls and gorge -- required special steps to protect it from the elements, especially an almost constant water spray, Kochinsky explained.

Additional site work at the north and south entrances will make the area more attractive to pedestrians from the campus community and visitors, he added. "This makes a world of difference in the overall appearance and functionality of the bridge and the approaches to it."

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