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What is Old is New Again: The Rehabilitation of the Waco Suspension Bridge

Melinda Luna PE ASCE Texas Section History & Heritage Committee Chair

This is a three-part series on the Rehabilitation of the Waco Suspension Bridge. Parts 3 of this Q&A style article will be added in during future issues as the project progresses. Bookmark this article and set a reminder to check back for the conclusion of this insightful series.

February 2022

To summarize the last issues article , we introduced the he Team of Modjeski and Masters, Structural Technologies, Sparks Engineering Inc. (engineer of record) and Gibson & Associates (general contractor) with the City of Waco have undertaken the project of rehabilitation of the Waco Suspension Bridge. This project has a construction estimate of $12.4 million.

The Waco Suspension bridge was originally built and completed in 1869 and underwent a rehabilitation in 1914. The bridge is a single span measuring 475 feet over the Brazos River.

We contacted the City of Waco and Patrick Sparks PE of Sparks Engineering to ask questions on this current project. We thought we would ask a couple of more questions to find out more about this great project. This is the second article of a three-part series of the Rehabilitation of the Waco Suspension Bridge.

What is your favorite part of the project?

It is very technical, which I love. But working with such a great team: The City of Waco Parks Department (our client), and our highly qualified contractor Gibson & Associates and their specialty subcontractors is another part of the project that is equally enjoyable.

Any improvements to the original design of the bridge?

We will bring the bridge up to current pedestrian live load (90psf) and H-15 truck load. We are improving the anchorages, using the same size cables but of stronger material. Also, we are very focused on durability of the bridge. Considering this we:

  • We are detailing plans extensively to prevent water from entering the lower chord of the trusses.
  • We are using FRP form-deck, and a three-inch-thick deck slab with stainless steel rebar for maximum life span.
  • The outer walkways will be decked with tropical hardwood for durability and to save weight.
  • We will also improve the railings to meet modern codes.

Will you give us an update when complete?


The Waco Suspension Bridge is a ASCE Civil Engineering Landmark and on the National registry of Historic Places. Tom Balk , LA describes the bridge as “an iconic landmark on all levels with deep meaning for us locally, and it is truly an honor to be entrusted with its care.” We will follow up with a Part 3 article when the project is complete.

Join us for Part 3 of this series in a future issue if Texas Civil Engineer (TCE). If you have a question for Mr. Sparks regarding this project, please send them to Melinda Luna PE at [email protected].

View Part 1 of this series here.