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NYC's Beleaguered 'Bouncy Bridge' Demolished

Friday, November 1, 2019

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A New York City pedestrian bridge—originally billed as unique for being designed to bounce underfoot—was recently demolished, according to reports. Skeletal pillars are all that remain of the project, though the span is slated to be replaced, in order to connect the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to Pier 1.

Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Squibb Bridge, originally opened in 2013, built for $4.1 million, has spent more time closed than open. Most recently, the bridge was closed last August.

Bouncy Bridge History

Ted Zoli, the winner of a MacArthur Genius Grant and who runs architecture firm HNTB, originally designed the bridge. According to the Brooklyn Eagle, what gave the bridge its bounce was an unusual underslung suspension design.

Shortly after its opening in 2013, the structure closed in 2014 for repairs, which at the time were estimated to cost $700,000, but the closure lasted until 2017, with repair costs skyrocketing to $3 million. Other issues that plagued the structure included sagging support cables and one end of the walkway beginning to tilt.

In 2016, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation filed a $3 million lawsuit against architecture firm HNTB, though there was no admission of liability in the end. The bridge was reopened in April of 2017 after retrofit work from Engineering firm Arup, which included the addition of a T-mass damper on each of the main spans.

Arup was brought on board to carry out an assessment of the span to help address original structural problems. To address the Squibb bridge, which was made out of black locust, a lumber known for being both durable and high density, Arup worked in collaboration with a wood specialist and found that a decaying piece of lumber was part of larger overall problem with deterioration.

In the end, one of two choices were offered: retrofit the bridge with a metal brace, or rebuild the whole thing. Recently, the latter option was chosen, as it seemed to be the safest choice. (Retrofit would have cost $4 million, while building something new will cost $6.5 million, funding that will come from the park’s capital reserve fund.)

In total, the bridge was only open for 15 months.

Bridge Demolition

According to Curbed New York, the Squibb bridge was demolished last month, leaving only support pillars in place for the time being. The new span, designed and constructed by Arup, will be a spiritual successor appearance-wise to the old bridge, made of steel and aluminum, running 450 feet long.

Currently being built off-site, the bridge is slated to be installed and open to the public by this coming summer, noted Sarah Krauss, a spokesperson for BBPC.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Demolition; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

Comment from Mark Taylor, (11/1/2019, 8:48 AM)

Bouncy Bridge = Bad Idea. Doubt anyone will remember.

Comment from Michael Halliwell, (11/1/2019, 11:20 AM)

It's actually quite surprising how sensitive the human body is to minor motions. In Jr. High, one of the nearby pedestrian bridges could develop a significant bounce with a good number of students crossing it. Enough so to freak me out in those days....but 40 years later, the bridge remains intact and in place. Similarly, I did an undergraduate engineering class in a building with cantilevered concrete floors. With class changes, you could feel the room bounce with the pedestrian could be a little un-nerving. The building has stood for more than 50 years at this point and is quite structurally sound. It's the difference between structurally sound and acceptable human tolerance of deflection. If the Squibb Bridge was intended to permit this motion, it would be quite an interesting and unique structure....but it sounds like there were some other issues at play too.

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