Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Case Study No. 84

Thurston Avenue Bridge Rehabilitation Project

Ithaca, New York

Prepared by Hannah Owensby, UNC Highway Safety Research Center.


The Thurston Avenue Bridge under construction in 2006. Photo by Joe Wilensky.

The Thurston Avenue Bridge serves as the only direct route for vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic traveling between the main residences halls and the central academic campus of Cornell University. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic counts taken in 2002 revealed that 37 pedestrians and 15 bicyclists traveled across the bridge every 15 minutes during the peak hours. This volume is expected to increase to 318 pedestrians per 15 minute interval by 2034 and the number of bicyclists is expected to double in the next 30 years.


The rehabilitated and widened Thurston Avenue Bridge with new tubular steel arches. Photo by LaBella Associates.

Saving the existing historic steel box arches on the Thurston Avenue Bridge was necessary when considering reconstruction. The City of Ithaca was able to do this by adding two new induction bent tubular steel arches at the fascias that retained the view of the existing arches.


Design for the bridge rehabilitation began in 2001, and in March of 2006 the project began. The rehabilitation widened each sidewalk by 2.5 ft and provided two new 5 ft bicycle lanes. Other improvements of the bridge included:


Since the Thurston Avenue Bridge reopened in October 2007, safety and movement through the corridor has improved through improved lighting and pedestrian visibility. Students, staff and visitors can enjoy views of Fall Creek Gorge on the overlook areas, and the flow of public transit buses has improved.


This project cost $8.3 million for construction, $1.2 million for design and $850,000 for construction administration.


William J. Gary, P.E.
Superintendent of Public Works
108 East Green Street
Ithaca, NY
Phone: (607) 274-6530