All posts by David Graham

TH 53 Bridge Begins to Rise from the Ground

Bridge and Subsurface Rendering
Bridge and Subsurface Rendering (rendering courtesy of MnDOT)

A lot has changed from a year ago at the TH 53 Bridge sight near Virginia, Minnesota.  This time last year, the design-phase test pile program was wrapping up with three Statnamic load tests and we had just completed our initial geologic field investigation.  Since then, significant excavation, rockfall protection, and foundation work has been completed.  During summer and fall of 2015, DBA worked closely with contractors Hoover Construction and Pacific Blasting to maintain rockfall protection throughout the East Abutment and Pier 1 (East Pier) excavation process.  Official ground breaking occurred last November and foundation work started shortly after.  A total of 32, 30-in micropile foundations have been installed by Veit Specialty Contracting  and Kiewet Infrastructure  has completed a temporary causeway across the massive Rouchleau Pit by placing over 300,000 cubic yards of fill.

With the foundations of both piers complete, and the pier towers are starting to rise up, where they will carry the bridge deck 200 ft above.  The abutments are also taking shape with rock bearing concrete footings now poured on both sides of the pit.  The only foundation work left is to install tieback anchors at the East Abutment, which will reduce the lateral loading of the tall piers.

In a little over a year, the bridge is scheduled to open to traffic.  You can keep track of the progress through the project web cam.

Current View of Site, Piers Beginning to Rise
Current View of Site, Piers Beginning to Rise (photo from OxBlue Web Cam)

Incredible Pictures of St Croix Crossing Construction

St Croix Crossing Superstructure Construction
St Croix Crossing Superstructure Construction (photo courtesy of MnDOT)
Precast Box Segments
Precast Box Segments (photo courtesy of MnDOT)

Although foundation work has been complete at the St Croix Crossing project for quite some time now, MnDOT has recently posted some really amazing photos of the superstructure construction of this huge bridge  on the project site and Facebook page.

The St Croix Crossing Bridge is an extradosed bridge, which is something of a cross between a segmental box girder and cable-stayed bridge.  The scale of the massive concrete segments can be seen in the picture above in comparison to the barge the segments are sitting on and some of the equipment in the background.

Ground Breaking of New TH 53 Bridge in Minnesota

TH 53 Bridge

TH 53 Bridge, artistic rendering courtesy of MnDOT

The official groundbreaking for the Trunk Highway (TH) 53 Bridge and Relocation Project occurred last week at the project site in Virginia, Minnesota.  The bridge, which is the main element of the project, will span the Rouchleau Iron Ore Mine Pit.  The project is scheduled to be completed in a brisk two years in order to allow for mining where a section of TH 53 is currently located.  Upon completion the 1,100-foot long bridge will be Minnesota’s highest, with the roadway sitting approximately 330 feet above the bottom of the floor of the Rouchleau Pit.  Kiewit was selected as the general contractor for the project with Veit Specialty Contracting as the foundation contractor.

Foundation construction will start in late November or early December with the installation of 30-inch diameter micropile foundations for the western pier of the three span, steel plate girder bridge.  Although the foundation work is just about to get started, DBA has been hard at work on the project for over a year.  DBA first got involved as a consultant to MnDOT for the design-phase load test program conducted last fall.  Since then, DBA was contracted as the geotechnical engineer of record for the project.  Working with bridge designer Parsons, DBA designed the bridge foundations, an anchored abutment, and rockfall hazard mitigation systems for this geologically challenging site.  DBA has also analyzed several soil and rock slopes to verify stability of the bridge and roadway.

Most recently, some of us were on site to inspect some of the rockfall protection elements on the east side of the mine pit. Last week we spent two days climbing and repelling a on a portion of the eastern highwall, which is currently covered in rockfall protection drapery. The drapery was installed for the protection of workers excavating rock for the eastern bridge pier.   The drapery was installed by Pacific Blasting in association with Hoover Construction.  Some pictures from our drapery inspection visit are below.

For more information about the project, click here, and for our previous blog posts on this project, click here.

John and Paul provide some scale to this picture as they work their way down the drapery.

 John concentrating as he inspects the drapery seam as he decends.

DBA Engineers Perform “Extreme” Geologic Investigation

DBA engineers prepare to go over the edge of the 200-ft tall west wall of the Rouchleau mine pit with the load test site in the background. From left to right: David Graham, Nathan Glinski, Ryan Turner, and Paul Axtell
DBA engineers prepare to go over the edge of the 200-ft tall west wall of the Rouchleau mine pit with the load test site in the background. From left to right: David Graham, Nathan Glinski, and Paul Axtell (far right).

DBA is currently working with structural designer Parsons to design what will be Minnesota’s tallest bridge.  The bridge will span the currently inactive Rouchleau open pit iron ore mine near Virginia, Minnesota. MnDOT is moving the alignment of the existing Hwy 53 to make way for future mining in the area.  DBA is the lead geotechnical designer on the project in addition to being contracted as MnDOT’s load test expert for the ongoing design phase load test program.

As part of our site investigation to gather information on rock fall and the site geology, five DBA engineers (John Turner, Paul Axtell, Tim Siegel, Nathan Glinksi, and David Graham) got up close and personal with the site by rappelling off the near vertical cut faces on either side of the Rouchleau pit! Traversing the over 200-ft tall cut faces of the nearly 2-billion year Biwabik Formation rock formation by rope and harness, we collected valuable geologic data.  We also took some great pictures like the ones posted to our Google Photos account.  In addition to the still pictures, we took some videos of a few rock fall tests, which are on our YouTube channel.

If you would like to know more about this interesting project on Minnesota’s Iron Range, you can check out our project summary sheet, visit MnDOT’s project page, or stay tuned to this blog for more updates.  There is also an online article about the project that was recently published by Civil Engineering Magazine.

Kansas City Load Test Photos Added

BPU Load Test

Last spring, DBA conducted a construction phase load test program for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers floodwall improvement project  along the Missouri River in Kansas City, Kansas.  Located on property owned and maintained by the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities (BPU), the BPU floodwall was slated for structural improvements including a series of buttresses founded on 24-in drilled shafts.  As part of the project contract a load test program performed under the direction of a qualified P.E. and D.GE was required.  General contractor L.G. Barcus & Sons, Inc., secured our Paul Axtell, P.E., D.GE as the qualified load test expert.  DBA teamed up with load testing subcontractor Applied Foundation Testing, Inc., to perform the static load tests.

The load test program requirements included three test shafts, a statically loaded axial test shaft, a statically loaded lateral test shaft, and a combined statically loaded axial and lateral test shaft.  The required combined lateral and axial test shaft provided some unique challenges with respect to applying the loads and collecting data.  As can be seen in the picture above, the axial load was applied using dead weights.

We have added selected pictures from this unique project to our web albums, which can be viewed here.

Tim Siegel Appointed New Co-Editor of DFI Journal

As Robert recently posted, Dan is taking on new roles at the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) as a member of the DFI Educational Trust Board and as treasurer of the DFI Board of Trustees.  Tim Siegel is now stepping in to fill Dan’s former role as co-editor of the DFI Journal.  From DFI:

February 24, 2014, Hawthorne NJ: Maney Publishing and the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) are pleased to announce the appointment of Anne Lemnitzer and Timothy C. Siegel as the new co-editors of DFI Journal: The Journal of the Deep Foundations Institute. They will succeed lead editors Ali Porbaha and Dan Brown, who are stepping down after being editors since the Journal’s inception, and Zia Zafir, who will remain on the editorial board.

Timothy Siegel is a principal engineer with Dan Brown and Associates PC and member of the adjunct faculty at the University of Tennessee. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and has spent over 20 years working in industry. He is a member of the DFI’s Ground Improvement and Seismic and Lateral Loads Committees and has authored or co-authored over 45 technical papers and has presented at conferences throughout the USA.

Anne Lemnitzer is assistant professor at the University of California in Irvine. She holds a Ph.D. in structural engineering from UCLA as well as an M.S. in Geotechnical Engineering from California State University, Long Beach and B.S. from the University of Applied Science in Leipzig, Germany, where she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to continue her education. Her research interests lie at the interface of geotechnical and structural earthquake engineering.

Tim Siegel comments, “At no time in history has the practice of foundation engineering been as challenging as it is now. Ambitious projects, stringent design codes, the likelihood of litigation, and high expectations require engineers to effectively intertwine theory and experience. At a time when many technical journals are focused on the former, the DFI Journal plays a vital role by offering a balance between theory and experience. This is one reason that DFI Journal is a leading platform for technology transfer on design and construction of deep foundations and ground improvement.”

Anne Lemnitzer comments, “I am excited to work with my colleague Tim Siegel in serving as co-editor of the DFI Journal and hope to further enhance its reputation and circulation in the geotechnical community. We are determined to seek the best deep foundation research from across the world and combine it with the most innovative design projects currently built, hereby creating a unique stage for intellectual exchange, transfer of knowledge and professional development. The DFI Journal provides this alternative approach compared to traditional scientific journals and we are looking forward to widening the audience through hands-on, understandable publications that can make lasting impacts on our foundation industry.”

“DFI is excited to have members, Tim Siegel and Anne Lemnitzer taking the lead as Journal co-editors as we strive to increase the readership and frequency of the publication. The Journal is the perfect vehicle for achieving DFI’s mission to disseminate practical and useful content to the deep foundations construction industry and be the information resource for design and construction of foundations and excavations. We are confident the new editors will provide excellent insight, technical expertise and leadership in their new role,” says Theresa Rappaport, DFI executive director.

Tim, congratulations and thank you for your contributions to the industry!

Replacing the 89 Year Old Sellwood Bridge

DBA has had the pleasure of working with T.Y. Lin and SlaydenSundt JV in their effort to replace the Sellwood Bridge over the Willamette River in Multnomah County, Oregon, near Portland. Designed by Gustav Lindenthal, the existing Sellwood Bridge was constructed in 1925 to replace the Spokane Street Ferry, connecting the communities of Sellwood and West Portland.  In response to budget issues at the time, the Sellwood Bridge design was scaled back to minimize costs. Fast forward to 2014 and the existing Sellwood Bridge is now the only four-span continuous truss highway bridge in Oregon and possibly the nation. The bridge is extremely narrow, two lanes, no shoulder or median, and one small 4-ft sidewalk.  In addition to these shortcomings in design with respect to the modern age, the west end of the bridge was constructed on fill, and the hillside above the bridge is now slowly sliding toward the river. Ground movements have caused some of the girders to crack. Furthermore, the existing bridge was not designed to any seismic standards which present a major concern given the bridge’s location in the seismically active Pacific Northwest.

The new Sellwood Bridge will be a deck arch structure with three arches supporting the deck of the main river spans and is designed to the latest seismic standards. It will feature two 12-ft travel lanes, two-12 ft shared use sidewalks, and two 6.5-ft bike lane/emergency shoulders. Multnomah County is using the existing bridge truss on temporary pile foundations as a detour to save time and money during construction with minimal impact to traffic. The original bridge truss was shifted on January 19, 2013. Complicating the move was the enormity of the bridge, an 1100-ft single truss weighing 3400 tons. In addition to the size and weight of the span, old age and its curved alignment added to the technical challenges. The impressive move took only 14 hours.  The detour bridge is currently fully operational and will continue to carry traffic until the summer of 2015 when the new bridge is scheduled to open.

DBA played key roles in the design and construction of the main arch piers. As part of the VE Design, DBA assumed engineering responsibility for the 10-ft diameter drilled shafts supporting Piers 4, 5, and 6 (4 & 5 being in the river and 6 on the eastern shore).  The lengths of these shafts ranged from 81 ft to 225 ft through a number of subsurface conditions which posed many challenges to construction. Subsurface conditions ranged from large loose cobbles/gravel (Catastrophic Flood Deposits) to cemented cobbles and gravel (Troutdale Formation), to very hard intact basalt bedrock. Due to the challenging geologic conditions and variability of these conditions across the site, DBA implemented an observational method in which the final shaft length determination was made on the basis of our on-site observations in relation to a set of predefined criteria. This approach provided the necessary flexibility to efficiently confront different subsurface conditions in a timely manner. Drilling subcontractor Malcolm Drilling successfully completed construction of the last of these shafts in mid-October 2013.

You can learn more about the bridge and the project at Multnomah County’s website, SellwoodBridge.org. The website has current field work updates, photo gallery, history of the project, and a live construction camera with daily, weekly, and monthly time-lapse videos.  There is also a time-lapse of the moving of the old truss.

written by Nathan Glinski, edited by David Graham

Robert Receives NHI Award and Paul Becomes DFI Committee Chair

WRT_NHI

It was recently announced that Robert Thompson is being recognized by the National Highway Institute (NHI) as an NHI Instructor of Excellence for fiscal year 2012.  This award is given to NHI instructors who receive consistently high classroom evaluation scores, demonstrated commitment to the NHI adult learning philosophy, and for maintaining the highest standard of quality for transportation training.  Here are the congratulatory words of NHI Director of Training Programs, Richard Barnaby:

Your nomination and selection for this award shows that training participants value the instruction you provide, that you stand far ahead of your peers, and that you have captured the respect of HHI’s Training Program Managers.  This year you have continuously provided high quality instruction, shared your vast expertise and real world experiences, and have exceeded performance expectations.

Robert currently serves as an instructor for two NHI courses, NHI Course 132069, Driven Pile Foundation Inspection with co-instructor Keith Bennett of Gannett-Flemming and NHI Course 132014, Drilled Shafts – Construction Procedures and LRFD Design Methods with co-instructors Dan Brown and John Turner of DBA.

That is most certainly a job well done, Robert!

Paul Axtell

We would also like to announce that Paul Axtell has been named as the new chair of the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) Drilled Shaft Committee, following Tom Hart of Black & Veatch.  Paul certainly deserves the honor of this roll given his participation and contributions to the Drilled Shaft Committee.

Congratulations, Paul!

Drilled Shafts Complete at St Croix

Pier 9 FootingAs reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Case Foundation recently finished constructing 40 drilled shafts at the St Croix River Crossing Project.  Since early June, Case has been working at a feverish pace to construct the drilled shaft foundations for the new extradosed bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin.  As of November 8th, all of the drilled shafts are officially complete.  General contractor Kramer is working to finish the pier footings and support tower bases by early 2014.  Soon, the joint venture of Lunda and Ames will begin construction of the $380 million bridge superstructure.

As MnDOT’s foundation consultant for the project, DBA has been on site during much of the foundation construction over the past five months.  Some pictures taken during this time, along with several pictures from MnDOT are available for viewing on our Picasa Page.  More pictures and information can be found on the project website and Facebook Page, and the project can be viewed live via webcam.  Previous DBA blog posts about the main project and the predesign load test program can be found here.

DBA is pleased to wrap up its role on the St Croix Crossing Project with a very positive outlook.  The drilled shaft construction proceeded on schedule and as planned without unexpected challenges, and our strong client relationships with MnDOT continued to grow stronger.  It was also nice to see familar faces from Case, Braun Intertec, and Parsons Transportation Group, many of whom we worked with us at Hastings.  We very much look forward to working with these partners again in the future!

DBA Engineers Coauthor Cover Story of Latest DFI Magazine

http://danbrownandassociates.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/DFI-Cover-July-Aug-2013_small.jpg

Cover Image of the Hastings Mississippi River Arch Bridge

The featured article in the July/August 2013 issue of Deep Foundations, the magazine of the Deep Foundations Institute, is coauthored by Dan, Paul, and Rich Lamb, P.E., of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).  The article summarizes how load testing has been used successfully as part of the foundation design process by DBA and MnDOT on five major bridge projects along the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers during the last 10 years and the lessons learned from these successive projects.   The featured bridge projects include two major design-build projects, the emergency replacement of the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge (2007) and the Hastings Mississippi River Arch Bridge (2011).  The other traditional design-bid-build projects include the I-494 Wakota Mississippi River Bridge, the U.S. Hwy 52 Lafayette Mississippi River Bridge, and the St Croix River Bridge.  As is often the case, each of these projects presented unique geological and hydrogeological challenges to foundation design – despite the projects all being within 30 miles of each other – including thick layers of highly organic compressible soils overlying bedrock, layers of cobbles and boulders, artesian groundwater conditions, and bedrock ranging from weak weathered sandstone to very hard dolostone.  These varying conditions resulted in the use and testing of a variety of foundations.  Load testing “with a purpose” has proven to be an integral part of the design and construction process on these projects, as the load tests were not simply for verification of a design but provided valuable information used to optimize the designs and provide quality assurance of the construction practices.

Please read the full article here or in a copy of Deep Foundations, a bi-monthly magazine published by the Deep Foundations Institute.   DFI is an international technical association of firms and individuals involved in the deep foundations and related industry.  More information about DFI and how to become a member can be found at www.dfi.org.

Also see our Projects Page for more about some of these projects and our other major projects.