The Route to Pedestrian Safety Starts with a ReadySpan FRP Boardwalk

Located in Maryland's Allegany County and encompassing more than 3,000 breathtaking acres of public land, Rocky Gap State Park provides a unique and memorable experience for its visitors. From the rugged mountains surrounding the park to the dense hemlock forest to the 243-acre Lake Habeeb known for having the “bluest water in the state,” there’s endless natural beauty for visitors to enjoy.  

The Challenge

Rocky Gap State Park’s primary challenge was that it had a walking trail that went around the lake, and part of that trail went on a vehicle access road. Even when drivers maintain safe speeds and practice other prudent driving behaviors, heavy pedestrian traffic on a road built for vehicles still poses a serious risk of danger. That’s why Rocky Gap State Park set out to create a safer walking environment for its pedestrians — and get them off the road.  

The Solution: Bedford FRP Boardwalk and Bridge

Rocky Gap Bridge scenic view
Rocky Gap Bridge in the background w/ bike and hiking sign in forground

To reroute the people to a safer trail, Rocky Gap State Park turned to Excavating Associates and Bedford for ReadySpan fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) pedestrian bridges. Together, the teams collaborated to develop a 200-linear-foot FRP boardwalk and bridge system that integrated with the trail circling the lake and allowed hikers and bikers to get off the road and safely continue on the trail around the lake.

“This was a unique project,” says Ted Harris, Bedford ReadySpan Account Manager. “We designed a pedestrian bridge that was located in between a boardwalk system. The bridge is a 40' x 5' pedestrian bridge and then we have sections of 10' x 5' boardwalks that are installed end to end.”

Watch this video for more details on the Rocky Gap ReadySpan bridge project.

Aesthetic Appeal

Rocky Gap Bridge

Rocky Gap State Park wanted to ensure the FRP boardwalk and bridge fit in seamlessly with the natural surroundings of the area. One reason a ReadySpan pre-engineered bridge system was chosen was because of how it would enhance the park experience for visitors and blend into the aesthetics of the gorgeous scenery. 

Rocky Gap officials are thrilled with the natural, coordinating color that was chosen for the bridge as well as the minimal impact that it took to install it by not disturbing the earth and plant growth around the area, which is especially important for parks. 

“Rocky Gap State Park wanted a system that was going to really look good in its surroundings and blend in with the natural area that you see,” continues Harris. “They also wanted a solution that was lightweight, cost-effective, easy to install and would last forever. They didn't want to have to do periodic maintenance on the bridge or come back and paint the bridge or replace rotten wood.”

Durable by Design

Fiberglass reinforced plastic is a hard-wearing, long-lasting, maintenance-free material that offers corrosion resistance and performs very well compared to steel and wood in coastal or lakeshore areas like Rocky Gap State Park. Wood will rot, degrade and splinter over time. Metal will rust and corrode with water exposure. FRP, however, will not rust, rot, degrade or corrode. It requires no painting or staining and does not absorb moisture. Plus, it's an inert product so nothing in the environment will damage it or cause problems with it. It has a longer lifespan than steel and can last for more than 75 years without any kind of maintenance issues.

Pound for pound, fiber reinforced polymer is stronger than steel. The reduced weight lowers transportation costs and makes it easy to install ReadySpan bridges, FRP boardwalks and viewing platforms even in the most remote locations.

Rocky Gap Bridge close-up of railing mounts

Installation Ease 

All of Bedford’s ReadySpan FRP solutions are designed for quick and easy onsite assembly and installation. All the parts are cut to size and pre-drilled in Bedford’s facility. All the hardware is shipped along with the parts, and since ReadySpan bridges are bolted construction bridges, they’re remarkably simple to put together. 

Plus, ReadySpan bridges can be delivered in three ways: a kit for complete assembly in the field, in modules that require limited assembly and completely pre-assembled.

In addition, because FRP material is about one-quarter the weight of steel and one-third the weight of aluminum, it's easy to transport and put it into place. A bridge the size of the Rocky Gap bridge can be installed within a day. And there is no need for expensive laborers for welding. 

“The Rocky Gap State Park bridge was assembled onsite,” says Gerry Scritchfield of Excavating Associates. “Then we transported it close to the final location, set it into position and anchored it down.”

Safety Matters

Of course, a main concern of any bridge is safety. That’s why all ReadySpan bridges are built with safety in mind. Rocky Gap State Park’s bridge has been designed for a pedestrian load of 85 pounds per square foot and a snow load of 55 pounds per square foot. It has also been designed for seismic loads and a wind load of 25 pounds per square foot. The bridge can handle ATV traffic as well.

ADA Accommodations

Rocky Gap State Park wanted to make sure that Bedford was in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the FRP boardwalk and bridge met all ADA specifications. The Rocky Gap boardwalk features hand railings on both sides, as well as safety rails and an ADA-compliant hand railing.

Rocky Gap Bridge Railings on both sides. Photo of pedestrians leaning on the railings, and talking.

“Bedford met all the ADA requirements that were set by the state park for this bridge,” continues Scritchfield. “They also were able to supply everything that you need for a project like this, and it made everything go together very simply. I would highly recommend Bedford Reinforced Plastics. There's zero maintenance on these bridges other than monitoring the decking. Everything else is a long-life, durable product.”

All Decked Out

Speaking of decking, the material that Rocky Gap State Park chose was the #2 pressure-treated southern pine, which is Bedford’s standard choice. FRP is available as an upgrade. The yellow pine is cost-effective and perfect for pedestrian, equestrian and H-5 vehicle bridges in most applications. For harsher environments, the decking can be fabricated from our FRP material or composite decking. 

Rocky Gap Bridge close up of #2 pressure-treated southern pine wood planks.

Complete Systems Available

With Bedford, customers can explore many options of ReadySeries FRP products available in limitless configurations, including handrails, ladders, platforms and catwalks — as well as a wide array of other solutions such as FRP grating, customizable walkways and platforms and more. 

Get Started Today

Our knowledgeable team can help with ReadySpan pedestrian, equestrian, light vehicle and golf course bridges — as well as your project specifications, estimating costs and more. Reach out to us with questions, request a quote or call 814-623-8125 to discuss the details of your project.