19th Street Pedestrian Bridge on Campus of University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado

The University of Colorado (CU) Boulder’s main campus is separated from student residential areas by Boulder Creek, the Boulder Creek Trail, a riparian corridor, as well as a 30 to 60-foot-tall elevation differential. The 19th Street Bridge establishes accessible connections while providing cost-effective aesthetic appeal at Colorado’s flagship university, bringing to life their vision of creating a “bridge through the canopy,” where pedestrians weave through trees on a structure connecting them with the surrounding environment and quick transportation to their campus destination.

A Low Impact Structural Design for A More Connected and Accessible Campus

To minimize fabrication efforts and construction cost, a series of identical straight 30-foot steel spans were utilized at a near-maximum ADA compliant slope to make the bridge no longer than necessary. Each pier landing serves as a turn point for the pathway to create an overall curve shape out of a series of straight lines. The piers are supported by a single concrete column founded on either a caisson or a micropile foundation, depending on the terrain. Custom railings using weathering steel plates and bars minimize materials and obstruction of the surrounding natural beauty. Lighted handrails shine downward to illuminate the bridge path after dark while minimizing light pollution. Otak designed the bridge with the goals of minimizing impact to the existing hillside, limiting the removal of existing high value trees, and to not disrupt the area’s historic stone structures. The 19th Street Bridge greatly improves the connectivity to campus while providing students, visitors, and Boulder residents a connection to the surrounding nature and landscape for generations.

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Structural Engineering
“The best part of my job is seeing needed infrastructure (especially bridges) get designed, permitted, and built.”

Doug Sarkkinen

Director of Bridges & Structures

“We think outside the box, pay close attention to aesthetics, and come up with cool project concepts because we love what we do.”

Kevin Dooley

Business Unit Leader of Transportation & Infrastructure