Footbridge Over the Giżycko Channel

Project name: 
Footbridge Over the Giżycko Channel
Project category: 
YLE Engineers
Project location: 

Footbridge Over the Giżycko Channel in Poland

Giżycko is town situated between lakes Niegocin and Kisajno in the Masurian Lake District. The Giżycki (Łuczański) Canal runs through the town centre.

Giżycko is a popular tourist resort in Poland. It’s a great place for summer activities like sailing, cycling and walking. One of the main attractions in the historic area is the swing bridge on the Giżycki Canal, built in 1860.

Near the swing bridge was an old footbridge which connected two parts of the town and was an alternative crossing when the swing bridge was closed. The old pedestrian bridge was not adapted for people with limited mobility.



The designers’ challenge was to create a new footbridge, which would be adapted for people with limited mobility and cyclists, but which would also complement the surrounding landscape. The new footbridge also had to allow small ships, boats, sailboats and yachts sail under the main span. Designers wanted to create a meaningful place for the local community and tourists – a place for meetings, leisure and culture. For this reason, one of the ramps was designed as an amphitheater.



The footbridge axis is curved in the plan and ramps are fitted into the surrounding landscape. From the south-east, the ramp rises gently upwards, parallel to the existing sidewalk. Then the footbridge turns to pass above the canal and the south-west ramp descends gently in a plane arc. The inner slope of the ramp has been formed into steps, creating the amphitheater. The required slope of the ramps is 6% and it is made to suit people with limited mobility and cyclists. The project refers to nature and to the town's sailing traditions. Teak wood was used in the cornice and amphitheater, and is also used for boat building. The piers branch out like the surrounding trees. The competition design included holes in the footbridge deck for existing trees to pass through, but unfortunately these trees were in bad condition and were removed before construction began. Bearing height is minimal in order to improve esthetics.

The lightweight steel construction of the footbridge allowed it to meet the esthetic requirements for a reasonable price. The height of the cross section is variable along the span. That provided even more lightness and increased the vertical clearance above the channel.

High quality materials were chosen to build the footbridge. The bridge supports were made of architectural concrete, which gave a clean and smooth surface. Stainless steel was used in the railings, elements of the rainwater drainage system and the steps of the stairs. The amphitheater and the cornice were made of teak wood, which is resistant to water, rot, mildew and fungi. The choice of materials and design was guided by their maximum durability.

Designers used their experience of deterioration modes in existing steel footbridges, to avoid them in their project. That is why special attention was paid to structural details, to extend their durability at the most sensitive elements in construction. For example, the new pedestrian bridge in Giżycko is fixed in the abutment, so it has only one expansion joint, and stainless steel is used for elements exposed to wear of anticorrosion layers (drainage, steps, railings). 

To protect pedestrians and cyclists from falling, a railing system with laminated glass panels was installed. There is also a CCTV monitoring system around the footbridge. Moreover, to increase the safety of the whole local community, the pedestrian bridge has been designed to allow passing of an ambulance in case the swing bridge is not available for immediate passage.

Energy-saving was an important issue for both designers and the commissioning authority, so only LED lighting is used on the footbridge.

New technologies were used in the design and construction. The steel construction was designed in 3D BIM technology. Apart from that, 3D scanning was made to measure displacements during load tests.

Tekla Structures