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Columbia River Skywalk Bridge

Photo: COWI North America

​Columbia River Skywalk Bridge crossing the Columbia River, Trail, British Columbia, Canada

​Community Connections | Turning a need into a landmark

​The Columbia River Skywalk Bridge, opened in late 2016, is one of the longest pedestrian suspension bridges in North America. With a length of 280 m it connects downtown Trail to neighbourhoods on the other side of the river and forms a walking loop around the city. The Columbia River Skywalk, which replaces the condemned Old Trail Bridge, not only provides a much needed community connection but also provides a new crossing for utility pipelines, previously housed on the Old Trail Bridge. As part of the Trans Canada Trail, it is also a landmark structure in the area. 

COWI has a long connection with the community of Trail, having closely inspected and repaired the Old Trail Bridge prior to its closure in 2010. It was this strong community connection and an understanding of the importance of a river crossing to the community that led COWI to suggest expanding a proposed new pipeline project to include not only the existing utility line, but also a pedestrian crossing and a secondary (back-up) waterline. 

COWI undertook the conceptual and detailed design of the bridge. A suspension bridge best fit the project, based on site conditions and project needs (piping requirements), as well as being cost effective – light weight and with minimal instream work.

Throughout the design process, COWI sought out new approaches and advanced material options to reduce costs and construction times. New lightweight decking materials (FRP, or fiber reinforced polymer) were chosen which resulted in a reduction in cables sizes (and costs), and allowed for single leg towers.

COWI's community knowledge also greatly assisted in the placement of the tower foundations. Although located at the edges of the river, their position was careful selected and construction timed to coincide with low water levels. This therefore eliminated the need for cofferdams or other in-river works. In addition to cost, this greatly minimized environmental impacts and aided the permitting process.

COWI is proud of their contribution to this project. Through their long-term relationship with the City of Trail, COWI was able to understand the city and the community's needs.

The design of the Columbia River Skywalk Bridge exemplifies how engineers can help bring positive impacts to a community.

LAST UPDATED: 08.02.2017