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

Otak Services: Civil Engineering | Transportation

The University of Colorado (CU) Boulder’s main campus is separated from areas containing student housing and residential neighborhoods that separated Boulder Creek, the Boulder Creek Trail, a riparian corridor and a 30 to 60-foot-tall elevation differential. The construction of the 19th Street Bridge establishes accessible connections while providing cost-effective aesthetic appeal commensurate with Colorado’s flagship university. Otak helped bring CU’s vision of creating a “bridge through the canopy” to life, with the structure weaving pedestrians through trees and connecting them to the surrounding environment while getting them to where they need to go.

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 it needed to be. 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, and custom railings were developed using weathering steel plates and bars to minimize materials so to not obstruct the bridge users from the surrounding natural beauty. Lighting embedded within handrails shines downwards to illuminate the bridge path after dark while minimizing light pollution.

Otak designed the bridge in order to minimize the impact to the existing hillside, limit the removal of existing high value trees, and to not disrupt the historic stone structures in the area. 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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“I enjoy working at Otak because I get to be involved with unique, challenging projects that enhance my community and the places where we live, work, and play.”

David Graff

Project Bridge Engineer

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Dan Beltzer

Business Unit Leader of Bridges & Structures

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Steven Florian

Senior Designer