Bow River


Banff, Alberta

Building Type


Clear Span

80 m [264 ft.] / 113 m [370 ft.]

The Bow River Pedestrian Bridge, perhaps the longest of its kind, was the first new crossing of Banff’s Bow River since the 1920s-era vehicle overpass. It addresses the pressing needs for emergency vehicle access, as well as increasing pedestrian traffic in one of Canada’s oldest national parks, while replacing ageing sanitary and water pipes installed under the river. The client’s goal was to create a minimal and unimposing design that complemented the surrounding natural scenery, while using sustainable materials, a rarity on structures this size.

The 113-metre-long timber bridge features an 80-metre clear span. At 4-metres wide, the slender bridge profile was one of the main design challenges, especially regarding vibration control. To address this issue, two uniquely tuned mass dampers suspended beneath the bridge were designed and installed. Two haunch glulam girders cantilever from either side supporting a central 34-metre suspended span, which sits atop a replaceable modular timber deck. The central span was made to be as long as possible to keep the supporting drilled piers out of the water for most of the year, reducing interference in the river channel.

The tight, remote site, as well as winter conditions made bridge erection a challenge, but the use of prefabrication played a major role in the project’s successful installation in just two days. The bridge now gracefully carries pedestrian traffic while providing safe and easy access to the utility pipes it supports.

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