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Excellence in Highway Design

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Category 6 - Structures Costing Less Than $10 Million

Award of Excellence

Thurston Avenue Bridge over Fall Creek
Ithaca, New York

Photo showing the side view of the bridge, with the crest of the existing arch just underneath the bridge deck and the new tubular arches rising above the bridge deck.Aerial photo of the bridge crossing over the ravine and river, with a dam upstream and intersection near both ends of the bridge.

This bridge is listed in NYDOT's Inventory of Historic Bridges due to the rare type of the existing arches, curved floorbeam ends, and vertical picket bridge railing. The project’s objective was to widen the bridge while maintaining its historic aspects. The solution was achieved by adding new induction bent tubular arches—technology recently applied to bridge design—at each fascia to provide for two sidewalks and two new bicycle lanes while preserving the historic arches. The new arches were elevated—so that the existing arches remained visible—and painted to provide differentiation between existing and new elements. Curvature at the ends of the floorbeams and railing also were replicated. A critical issue was to match the exact geometry of the existing and new structural elements. The duration of closure was minimized since this is the most heavily traveled bridge on Cornell University campus for both pedestrians and vehicles. The design met three basic objectives: a crash tested railing system, replication of the vertical picket elements, and an aesthetic pedestrian railing that prevents climbing while being visually appropriate for its location.

Designer: LaBella Associates, Rochester, NY
Contractor: Economy Paving, Inc., Rochester, NY
Owner: City of Ithaca, Ithaca, NY

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Michael Matzke
Office of Program Administration
E-mail Michael

Updated: 04/08/2011

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration