Customer Questions Answered: Understanding Fiberglass Pedestrian Bridge Dimensions

Traditional Materials: Steel, Aluminum, Wood

People researching pedestrian, equestrian, light vehicle and golf course bridges quickly discover the many benefits of using fiberglass-reinforced polymer (FRP) rather than steel, aluminum and wood. FRP doesn’t rust and corrode like steel, doesn’t dent like aluminum and doesn’t rot, warp or attract insects like wood. FRP bridges are also maintenance-free, helping to save significant operational costs over the long term.

After customers get an understanding of FRP material as the best choice for most bridge designs, they start to ask questions about bridge components and dimensions. To help you better understand the dimension options for a fiberglass pedestrian bridge, fiberglass trail bridges and other FRP bridges, below is a look at real-life questions customers have asked before making their final selection.

Any bridge design naturally begins with the needed length and width, so most questions we get take dimensions into consideration. Please reach out with your questions or call 814-623-8125 anytime. In addition to the knowledgeable ReadySpan sales team, our staff includes Registered Professional Engineers who can provide specific data for your pedestrian, equestrian, light vehicle or golf course bridge needs. You may also download our ReadySpan brochure for comprehensive insights that might address your specific questions.

We need a pedestrian bridge that’s 50 feet long and 6 feet wide. It must support a weight of 90 pounds per square foot. Can an FRP bridge handle those dimensions?

Absolutely. The maximum span of a fiberglass pedestrian bridge will vary depending on its intended use, location and more, but for most applications, an FRP bridge can have a free span (no center pier needed) up to 100'.

It’s great that you’re considering the load-bearing aspect of your bridge. Most people think about the weight of expected foot or light vehicle traffic, but they often overlook other factors that can cause load stress. ReadySpan FRP bridges are designed for live loads such as pedestrians, horses and riders, ATVs, UTVs, golf carts or an occasional single H5 emergency vehicle. In addition, they’re designed to handle environmental loads such as wind, seismic and snow prescribed by the local building code and ASCE 7. Allowable Stress Design methodology is used in the design of our bridges to ensure load-bearing needs are met, and all ReadySpan bridges undergo full-scale testing to validate predicted performance.

Everyone we’ve asked about our bridge design says a center pier will be required. Can you make a fiberglass pedestrian bridge that spans 125' without a center pier?

For that length, a pier will be required. An FRP bridge can have a free span up to 100'. However, the pier does not have to be perfectly centered. If you have an obstacle you need to work around or a particular feature, such as a creek, that you don’t want to disturb with a pier, our engineers can work with you to design a solution that will be both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing.

We’re looking to build a pedestrian bridge that’s 70' long. We only need it to be 4' wide. Can you do that?

We caution you against that. For a bridge span of 70', the minimum width should be 5'. This is because a bridge needs to be designed for a minimum length-to-width ratio to keep it from being too slender and unstable laterally. So we can absolutely help you with a fiberglass pedestrian bridge of 70', but our engineers (and most likely your local inspectors) will insist on a minimum width of 5'.

We want to build a trail bridge in our park for hikers and bikers. It will be in a very remote location and may occasionally need to handle ATVs. What should we be looking for? Do you have any examples of park bridges you can share?

FRP material is ideal for a park trail bridge. The light weight and easy installation simplify transporting and installing an FRP bridge in remote locations. Some customers have chosen to have our bridges be partially or completely preassembled and then placed into position by crane or helicopter. And because FRP won’t rust, corrode, warp or rot, you won’t have the expense of sending a maintenance team out year after year.

Even more, a fiberglass pedestrian bridge offers high strength. The bridge components in ReadySpan P-Series pedestrian bridges can handle pedestrian loads, while PV-Series pedestrian vehicle bridges can handle ATVs and horse traffic weighing up to 10,000 pounds. Explore the differences to determine your needs. Our Registered Professional Engineers will also make sure all load-bearing needs are met, including the area’s climate considerations such as wind, seismic and snow. Before installation, full-scale testing will be conducted to validate predicted performance of the bridge design.

3D rendering of a ReadySpan bridge with

Finally, aesthetics are important for a park trail bridge. You want a look that blends in with the environment. ReadySpan fiberglass trail bridges are available in brown and olive green, and the color won’t fade or peel off because it’s integrated into the components rather than brushed on. You won’t have to worry about the color deterioration or cracking like you’d get with a wooden bridge or the rust stains and corrosion you’d experience with a metal bridge. Take a look at the variety of ReadySpan bridges installed in a wide range of location types, including the fiberglass trail bridge that replaced a failed steel bridge on the Tish Creek Trail in Cascade Locks, Oregon.

I feel confident that FRP is the right choice for my bridge structure, but what options do I have as far as the decking? I want to be sure this bridge will last a long, long time.

For ReadySpan bridge decking, #2 pressure-treated Southern Yellow Pine is standard, while FRP is an optional upgrade. The cost-effective yellow pine is well-suited for pedestrian, equestrian and H-5 vehicle bridges in various applications. In challenging conditions, the decking can be crafted from FRP material or composite decking. Please be aware that premium fiberglass decking is not recommended for equestrian bridges due to horses’ sensitivity to the texture. Fasteners and anchor bolts are made with galvanized steel for long-term performance.

Always Here to Help

Dimensions. Loads. Applications. Whatever your question, our team can get you the answer and help design the ideal ReadySpan bridge for your needs. If your bridge design is ready for a quote or in the early planning stages, give us a call at 814-623-8125 to discuss your project.