Tying a Tech

Case Studies
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Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta continues to provide upgrades to its master plan and improve the campus community. The east and west portions of Georgia Tech are tied together by a pedestrian bridge that crosses 15 lanes of the I-75/I-85 Downtown Connector. This signature structure provides a park-like setting for students and faculty, while offering safe and secure access to buildings on both sides of the highway. The bridge replaces an existing steel-plate girder bridge that carried four lanes of vehicular traffic and provided a 6-ft sidewalk on either side for pedestrians. Arcadis was part of the successful design-build project team.


The new Fifth Street Pedestrian Bridge is a two-span structure with two vehicle traffic lanes, a turning lane, two paved bicycle lanes and a 24-ft-wide sidewalk. More than half of the 223-ft bridge is green space, offering benches, lawn and gathering areas.

Decorative lighting, a tubular steel trellis and sloped walkways with concrete pavers add to the aesthetics. Precast concrete planter walls divide the pedestrian and roadway traffic and reduce noise. The landscape architect, Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates (SRSSA) specified the bridge plantings.

“The walls and plantings define the character and nature of the space,” said Jim Aitken, P.E., structures department manager with Arcadis U.S. Inc. , the project designer.

One of the project’s greatest challenges was to maintain traffic movement during construction. Lane shifts and closures were mandated and monitored by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Traffic was reduced to one lane in each direction.

While the remainder of the bridge was built, a staged-construction scheme was used to shift traffic incrementally through the construction area safely.

Arcadis designed the roadway, drainage and structural designs with the exception of the abutment at the east end of the bridge, designed by Hayward Baker Inc. Sunbelt Structures Inc. performed construction services. Executed as a design-build project, the bridge was completed in two years. Since its completion, the project has won several design awards.

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