The bridge consists of 86 glass panels, but they won’t all be replaced right away. Instead, initial replacement contract will cover just twelve sections. Additional stainless steel replacements will be added as needed, and as the City budget permits.
City engineers say that the glass panels are simply prone to breakage. According to the Public Works Department, the City has replaced 51 glass panels since 2009. The City has been looking for alternatives to the current glass materials since 2013, hoping to find another transparent material that was more robust. The City settled on a stainless steel solution after consulting with materials specialists from around the country.
The bridge was named to honor Ruth and William Holmberg, former publishers of the Chattanooga Times newspaper. The Holmbergs were ardent supporters of the arts, and the bridge draws people to the Bluff View Arts District, and provides pedestrian access over Riverview Parkway.
Although the panels consist of multiple layers of laminated glass, the City found that the middle layer of the panel consistently broke. Engineers believe that vandalism, changes in the weather, and unusual wear-and-tear from skateboarders and cyclists is responsible for the ongoing breakage issues. The City anticipates that the entire walking surface of the bridge could be overhauled in 1-2 years.
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Photo Credit: Larry Miller , via Flickr.com