Skywalk’s unique glass walkway
Ten years after the initial idea, Skywalk’s platform is ready for the next big step. It is time for the final element – the unique glass floor.
The engineers decided to use five layers of Saint-Gobain Diamant low iron glass panel with DuPont SentryGlas interlayer. Each layer is glued with special glue which strengthens the exposed edges and improves the visibility. Each glass panel has a width of 1.2 (3.9 feet) meters, height of 3 meters (9.8 feet) and weighs about 545 kilograms (1201 lbs). Each glass panel has to withstand load of 488 kilograms (1075 lbs) per square meter (10.76 square ft.). This means that the whole deck can withstand the load of about 800 people. Still the maximum occupancy of the deck at one time is 120 people. The visitors are required to wear cloth slippers to avoid scratches to the glass. Even if a scratch occurs, the unique glass panels allow for a change of only the top layer.
The glass side walls are 166 centimeters (65 inches) tall and can withstand load of 390 kilograms (860 lbs) per square meter (10.76 square ft.).
There is one other safety measurement taken for the glass deck. The inner and the outer beam are separated at about 3 meters (9.85 ft.) and they move independently of each other. Due to the day time heat and the weight of the visitors there could be a slight movement of the beams which can cause an incline or decline of the glass panels and to violate the flatness of the surface.
To solve this issue pads were mounted between the glass and the steel beams to compensate the vertical deviation and provide flat surface for the glass panels. After the mounting of the glass deck was completed the time has come for the most important operation.
Movement of the Skywalk over the canyon’s edge.
The team that will move the Skywalk is preparing for this moment for months. Two and a half years after the beginning of the project, the team is ready to roll-out the structure.
The ancient Egyptian method of transporting stone blocks on rolling logs was used to move the platform. Steel rolls were used instead of logs. The winches on two trucks were used to create traction and to slowly move more than 700 tons of steel and glass 21 meters upfront over the edge of Grand Canyon. Safety measure were taken by adding 250 tons at the back of the platform so that the weight of the front does not pull it down into the chasm. Two days were needed to move Skywalk to its final destination. Grand Canyon Skywalk is completed in March 2007. This miracle of modern engineering took two and a half years and 30 million dollars.