Johns Hopkins University, a research institution in Baltimore, Md., touts many notable alumni including 37 Nobel Prize winners, President Woodrow Wilson, Michael Bloomberg and Edmund C. Lynch, one of the founders of Merrill Lynch.
It boasts a prestige than many schools strive for but few have; however, like any school located in a major metropolitan area, the day-to-day safety of its students is a challenge not always easily achieved. Three seniors from its Department of Civil Engineering took note of one particular safety concern for a class project – the prevalence high traffic areas where students often need to cross roads or ride their bikes.
The three developed a proposal for a pedestrian bridge to help students navigate Charles Street, a busy thoroughfare that cuts across the east side of campus. Due to a burgeoning population, many students now reside on the east side of Charles Street in university-built housing, but are forced to cross it in order to get to the academic buildings and on the west side of the street. An article in The Baltimore Sun highlighted the students’ efforts, including team member Erin Kelly, whose sorority “big sister,” Miriam Frankl, was killed in a hit-and-run crash involving a chronic drunk driver.
In preparation for the pedestrian bridge design, the students precisely calculated weights, loads and horizontal wind forces and surveyed fellow students. They found that 84 percent feel unsafe crossing the road and cross it an average of eight times daily. They also accounted for disability access by connecting the bridge with an elevator-equipped dorm and consulted with a local engineering firm and construction company.
Their design is a 150 ft precast concrete bridge that spans Charles Street. In the proposal, the students note that the use of precast concrete offers high quality products with uniformity thanks to the controlled environment and tight quality control standards of plant-produced precast products. The proposal also cites the ease of transportation and construction of precast products that would allow for a quicker construction timeline and minimize the impact on vehicular traffic on Charles Street. In addition, a precaster could include inset features such as masonry elements or the school’s insignia and provide an architectural finish through the use of form liners, coloring or other methods to match the campus’s existing aesthetics.
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