While PermaTrak is a provider of boardwalk and elevated greenway systems, we work with quite a few different railing systems in conjunction with our boardwalk product. With hundreds of boardwalk railing options available, this article will review the railing's function on a commercial boardwalk, 3 common options for connecting the railing to the PermaTrak system, and several boardwalk railing material and style options.
Boardwalk Railing Functions
Railings on a commercial boardwalk serve three critical functions.
Depending on the elevation difference between the ground and the walking surface, they may be required by code. Typically, local building codes require railings if the walking surface is over 30 inches from the finished grade.
Railings must meet structural requirements imposed by the governing code. For example, if the LRFD AASHTO Guide for Design of Pedestrian Bridges governs your boardwalk design, you should be familiar with the required 200 lb point loading and 50 plf railing loading.
The railing adds to the overall aesthetics of the boardwalk. Many designers would prefer to keep the environment the focal point, not the boardwalk or railing system. Thus transparent railings can be very desirable.
Railings can be top or side-mounted on PermaTrak’s concrete boardwalk system.The three most common methods for attaching a railing system to the boardwalk are as follows:
The simplest of cases is for pre-formed holes to be cast in the concrete treads in a pattern that matches the bolt pattern on the railing base plate. An engineering evaluation of the minimum edge distance requirements should be performed to ensure proper load transfer to the boardwalk.
The railing base plate could be aligned over the tread joints. Thru bolts pass between the treads, into a steel plate underneath the boardwalk. This plate is tightened with nuts and washers, serving as a “clamp” to hold the railing bracket in place.
A top-mounted, pre-formed railing bracket also serves as an excellent connector for timber post style railings.
Railing Materials and Styles
Railings styles can vary from the simplest of a “two rail” timber railing, wood, composite or aluminum picket, aluminum pipe, to galvanized steel. For the boardwalk designers and owners interested in a railing that blends in with the natural landscape, tensioned cable strand provides a transparent railing.More durable and cost-effective options could include simple painted steel “three rail” or “picket style” railings. Most often, owners feel money is better spent on the boardwalk because it’s easier to replace railings than the boardwalk system.
Additionally, local counties have railing standards that have been used for years on other boardwalks or pedestrian bridges. Landscape architects often want the boardwalk railing to match railing used elsewhere on the project. These same railing materials and styles can be easily adapted for a PermaTrak concrete boardwalk.