Wooden Bridge Installed Over Canadian River Valley


An innovative wooden pedestrian bridge, glass elevator and railway have been built in Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada. The $24 million attraction was designed by international architecture firm Dialog, built by Graham Construction and extends over the North Saskatchewan River Valley.

About the Project

In June 2015, construction for the wooden bridge and connection of more than 18,000 acres of urban park area was approved by the Edmonton City Council. The decision to build came from the desire to overcome the many challenges faced while trying to access the river valley from downtown Edmonton.

In tackling the 50-meter (164-foot) change in elevation that slopes down to the valley, while simultaneously avoiding any topography disruptions, Dialog created what they call the “100 Street Funicular.”

"The large elevation difference and steep slopes of the river valley are part of its great beauty, but also makes access difficult for users with mobility challenges," Dialog said.

To avoid limiting anyone with mobility issues, the firm created a promontory located at the top of the bank, providing panoramic views of the valley. To access the valley, visitors may then travel by urban staircase or neighboring funicular—like an inclined elevator—which includes a promenade midway through the valley.

According to Dialog, the funicular can transport up to 20 people at a time and is one of the few in the world that doesn’t require an operator. While in downhill motion, the cabin’s motor rotates and generates electricity, which lowers the overall energy usage of the vehicle.

Additionally, the boardwalk and promenade include public art spaces and rest areas for visitors to enjoy the surrounding view, while the 50-meter-long pedestrian bridge crosses over traffic and leads to the Frederick G. Todd Lookout. The lookout hovers 19 meters above the river valley.

The boardwalk and promenade are built from a rot-resistant Kebony wood, which also reduces the need for maintenance. The American Galvanizers Association also reports that the sheltered canopy in the promontory, all the railings for the stairs, bridge and lookout, and the elevator and funiculars support structures were all made from galvanized steel, allowing for maintenance-free, low-budget construction.

"The final orientation takes pedestrians on a safe, immersive journey along the riverbank with plenty of opportunities to take in the views and linger along the way," Dialog said.

The project was officially opened in December 2017 and was funded by federal and provincial governments.

Awards and Achievements

Most recently, over the summer, the river access project received an International Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture Art and Design as well as The European Centre of Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies in the Bridges and Infrastructure category.

Principal and Landscape Architect Jill Robertson said, “We weren’t designing it to win awards, we were designing it to make the city better.

“It’s lovely to be recognized, but the fact that people use it every day and take selfies and wedding photos—that’s what makes me proud of it. We live in this city, and we use the funicular. Some of us use it every day to commute to work.”

Also, this year, the project has received the Alberta Steel Design Award of Excellence (Engineering) from the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) and the Award of Merit (Community Development) from the Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA) Showcase Awards.

Since opening, the project has also received the Alberta Minister's Award for Transportation Innovation, an award for Excellence in Hot-Dip Galvanizing from the American Galvanizers Association and an IES Northern Lighting Award from Exterior Lighting Design.

“This project is really inspired by Edmonton. It was really specific even to the site that it was in. It’s a response to the place. I don’t think that it would work anywhere else in the world,” said Robertson.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Completed projects; Design build; Galvanized steel; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rail; Railcars; Wood

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