Lightweight suspended footbridges are frequently constructed in rural areas. Often, contemporary structures of this type utilize steel cables, but the completion of a 64m span polyester-rope bridge in 2013 demonstrates the potential of a non-traditional material for this application. In this presentation, design strategies for polyester-rope suspended footbridges are described. These strategies highlight the influence of low material stiffness and high damping (determined through full-scale bridge testing) on the static and dynamic behavior of polyester-rope bridges. Modifications to structural performance are achieved by adjusting rope prestress, adding supplemental mass to the bridge, and/or including under-deck stiffening ropes. The effects of these changes on form and construction are discussed.
This presentation will be of interest to practitioners, researchers, and academic members in structural and architectural engineering because of its focus on a material that is new to suspended footbridge design. The strategies presented may aid a design professional if a site lends itself to a polyester-rope suspended footbridge. Researchers may see opportunities to develop optimization routines that can refine the strategies and forms presented.