Holmberg bridge in Chattanooga

Replacing glass with stainless steel

Matjaž Matošec - 5 January 2017

In response to continually cracking glass bridge panels, the Chattanooga City Council recently voted to invest in a more durable material solution.

About the author

Mr Matjaž Matošec
Matjaž Matošec is Editor of Stainless Steel World News and Manager of the Stainless Steel World Conference.
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In 2005, a new pedestrian bridge was opened in Chattanooga, a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee with a population of about 175,000. Named ‘Holmberg Bridge’ to honour Ruth and William Holmberg, former publishers of the Chattanooga Times newspaper and supporters of the arts, the USD 1.6 million bridge consists of 86 glass panels which may be aesthetically appealing, but have also proved to be more prone to damage than expected.

Since 2009, the city has replaced 51 panels which are believed to have broken due to vandalism, changing weather and unusual wear and tear from skateboarders and cyclists. With each glass panel replacement costing USD 4,000 in materials and labour, the total city expenditure on the maintenance of this bridge alone has exceeded USD 100,000, which called for action.

The city began looking for alternatives to the current glass materials in 2013, hoping to find another transparent material that was more robust. Ultimately, after consulting with materials specialists from across the country, the city decided on a stainless steel solution.

Recently, the Chattanooga City Council approved an USD 88,000 bid to replace twelve of the bridge’s 86 glass deck panels with slip-resistant stainless steel panels. Following this first phase of the project, further stainless steel replacements will be added as needed and as the city budget permits, with the Chattanooga’s public works department anticipating that the entire walking surface of the bridge could be overhauled within the next few years.

This project is yet another testimony to the many benefits of stainless steel as a construction and architectural material, utilising it for a number of reasons, including corrosion resistance, strength and durability – which all make it both safe and cost effective – as well as aesthetic appeal.

* Photo courtesy of Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau

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