Moody Bridge Opening

John Dewar

Earlier this year, the University of Texas at Austin opened a signature pedestrian bridge that is the first of its kind in the United States. The bridge links the three buildings of the Moody College of Communication complex across a busy city street and serves as a gateway to the campus. Freese and Nichols provided structural engineering and construction management as a sub-consultant to bridge architect Rosales + Partners of Boston, MA. 

According to University spokesperson Severine Halls, “The Moody Bridge has exceeded the expectations of University leadership, students, faculty members and members of the public, both in terms of the functionality it provides as well as its iconic design.”

Inverted Fink Truss

The bridge is a first in the United States: an inverted, modified Fink Truss bridge. With an overall length of 302 feet and a high tower of 65 feet, the bridge is supported from the ground at only one location, in the median of W. Dean Keeton Street, and clear spans about 150 feet on each side to bear on the existing buildings. 

Since the Moody College buildings were never designed to support the heavy load of a long-span bridge, Freese and Nichols developed an innovative approach to avoid overloading the buildings. The bridges were jacked into position so that initial uplift reactions were induced onto the buildings. Subsequent pedestrian loads on the bridge only reduced those uplift forces, but never exceed them.

This project recently received the ENR Texas and Louisiana Award of Merit in the small projects (under $10 million) category for 2016 Best Projects.