Richmond’s multimodal T. Tyler Potterfield Bridge connects visitors with the James River within the City of Richmond's downtown urban environment.
As the first project developed as part of Richmond’s visionary Riverfront Plan, Moffatt & Nichol adapted contemporary architectural details to the 100-plus-year-old footings of a 19th century dam. Moffatt & Nichol worked closely with the project architects to coordinate architectural details related to the structure’s decking, seating, lighting, and bridge railings. Initial work included reviewing existing condition surveys and performing a field inspection and materials testing to determine if existing 100-plus-year-old in-water structures (abandoned dam footings) were suitable for reuse as part of the new bridge. Finite element analysis was used to determine the existing structure’s stress under maximum pedestrian and service vehicle loads. The basis of design included AASHTO specifications for bicycle and pedestrian bridges, small vehicular live loading, and hydraulic/water levels. For the new bridge components, our structural design mimicked the original design of the built up steel pier trusses, paralleling the skew of the existing supports and adding built up steel members to support scenic overlooks and a wider, 10-foot walkway. Along the bridge, weathering steel was used for railing posts to maintain the structure’s industrial aesthetic, while stainless steel mesh panels were used to provide a clear view to the rushing river, 15 feet below. Americans with Disabilities Act access was achieved throughout the project.