GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – As people around our region and around the country await North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge to open, we wanted to know: how safe is the record-setting destination coming to Gatlinburg in two days?
The bridge, which is longer than two football fields, holds more than 200,000 pounds.
Marcus Watson, SkyLift Park’s Marketing Coordinator said the best way to explain the bridge’s weight limit is this: if there were five hundred people, weighing four hundred pounds each, standing on the bridge at the same time, it still would not exceed the weight limit.
It holds that weight while hanging more than 140 feet above the ground at its highest point with the help of eight micropile concrete foundations. Those foundations are on each side of the bridge and sit between 60-90 feet inside the earth. The space taken up by the eight concrete reinforcements totals 1,500 feet and more than one million pounds of concrete.
Watson said there will be a crew monitoring the forecast and a Doppler radar, as they’ve done with the SkyLife over the years, and close both the lift and bridge when a storm system reaches a certain point. When the storm is enough distance away, it will reopen.
The new SkyBridge is equipped with multiple wind guy cables, to stabilize it from the wind, but when wind speeds reach the 30 mph range, Watson said they’ll close it. Watson confirmed the bridge has passed multiple inspections from both certified bridge inspectors and a third party inspector.
SkyBridge is part of a series of an overall attraction called SkyLift Park. When completed, the park will include a SkyDeck with amphitheater seating, gift shop, water feature, foot and more. The SkyBridge is an added attraction to the SkyLift, which has been in Gatlinburg since the mid-1950s.