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Lightweight FRP Cantilevered Sidewalks Give Bicyclists and Pedestrians Safe Passage

Posted by Gregg Blaszak on August 13, 2021

CRCO cantilever sidewalk blog hero (1)Fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) cantilevered sidewalks featuring pultruded or vacuum infused deck panels offer a great lightweight solution when it comes to adding or expanding pedestrian access alongside an existing vehicle bridge. Sidewalks continue to play an important role in the transportation arena, with more applications in urban areas to connect businesses, entertainment and recreational areas.

Understandably, pedestrians and the bicycle community want to be separated from motor traffic whenever possible. Reducing the width or number of vehicle lanes on an existing bridge to accommodate a pedestrian walkway is not a safe alternative. Constructing a stand alone bridge exclusively for pedestrians carries a high price tag. Adding or expanding sidewalks to existing vehicle bridges with light weight technology is the ideal solution.

Creative Composites Group offers a number of decking options that can be used to fabricate cantilevered sidewalks. Determining the right choice depends on design criteria that include:

  • Pedestrian and vehicle design loads
  • Sidewalk width
  • Support span
  • Desired design features such as curbs, drainage and slope
  • Jobsite installation constraints

The CCG team uses this information to develop concepts that meet design requirements while optimizing the installed cost.

CRCO cantilever sidewalk blog installation (2)Narrow sidewalks, typically under 6-feet wide, are not required to support maintenance vehicles which means standard profile FRP planks manufactured with the pultrusion process can be used as decking. Similar to wide timber planking, FRP planks can be quickly laid down on a sidewalk superstructure and attached from the top or the bottom of the sidewalk depending on accessibility.

For wider sidewalks (> 10 ft wide) that do need to support vehicle loads or for longer spans between support members, large, molded FRP deck panel made using vacuum-infusion is the right choice. This manufacturing process permits design features such as cross slope and curbs for managing water to be incorporated into the deck panels. The thickness of the sidewalk panels can be easily designed for longer superstructure spans, reducing the amount of heavy steel underneath. Fewer steel superstructure members combined with lightweight FRP sidewalk panels provides the lowest weight sidewalk. Large panels are quickly installed using light duty equipment on the vehicle bridge.

Lightweight FRP decking and cantilever sidewalks provide a number of value-added advantages including:

  • Light weight
  • Long life cycle with low maintenance
  • Safe, non-slip walking surface
  • Fast installation, leading to lower construction costs

To safely accommodate pedestrians, commuters, bicyclists and recreation traffic that need to cross a vehicle bridge, contact us to discuss FRP decking and cantilever sidewalks.

Topics: cantilever sidewalks, FRP

Gregg Blaszak

AboutGregg Blaszak

Gregg Blaszak, P.E. is a civil/structural engineer experienced in design, specification and construction of FRP on heavy/civil infrastructure projects. He is a leading expert on the strengthening and retrofit of concrete structures with carbon fiber materials, and he has chaired a number of industry committees responsible for developing design/construction guidelines. After earning a BS in Aeronautical Engineering, Gregg returned to the University of Illinois to earn an MS in Civil Engineering. He has been involved in the design of several award-winning bridge projects before focusing exclusively on FRP applications where he worked with some of the top manufacturers in several different roles (engineering consultant, contractor, and manufacturer/distributor). With this background, he understands each of their needs and objectives.

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