Thurston Avenue Bridge Rehabilitation Project

Ithaca, New York
Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)


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


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:

  • New bridge railings
  • Overlooks at each sidewalks for viewing the adjacent Beebe Lake and Falls and the Fall Creek gorge
  • New handicap ramps and detectable warnings via marked crossings, signage, and signs at approaches for ADA accommodation
  • Improved visibility, directionality, and movement through intersection at south approach with new slop ramp, pedestrian island, and colored concrete crosswalks
  • New LED lighting in top of rail of bridge railing to light sidewalks across the bridge


The rehabilitated and widened Thurston Avenue Bridge.

The rehabilitated and widened Thurston Avenue Bridge.
Photo by Laura Kozlowski

The Thurston Avenue Bridge reopened in October 2007. Although crash or conflict data are not available, the addition of bicycle lanes likely improved safety for bicyclists by separating them from motor vehicle traffic. The improved lighting also improved the visibility of pedestrians and bicyclists. Wider sidewalks now allow students, staff, and visitors to more fully enjoy views of Fall Creek Gorge on the overlook areas.


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

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