Category Archives: Bridge Construction

US 231 Emergency Slide Repair – Laceys Spring, Alabama

DBA has the great fortune to be working with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) on a very interesting bridge project in Lacey’s Spring, Alabama just south of Huntsville, Alabama.  On February 12 and 13, 2020 a large landslide occurred on SR-53 (US-231) at milepost 301.7 in Morgan County approximately 1.7 miles south of the Laceys Spring Community.  The slide completely severed the 4-lane divided highway which is a major commuting route between Huntsville and several communities south of the city.  Many of the workers at the U.S. Army Redstone Arsenal, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and the contractors and vendors that support these two major installations live in the communities impacted by the closure of the highway.  Detours were established on existing state and county roads, but these added 30 to 60 minutes to commute times, depending on time of day.  ALDOT was under significant pressure from the impacted communities to quickly solve the problem and reopen the road.

ALDOT drill rigs performing exploratory drilling (DBA)

 

ALDOT drilling crews were immediately mobilized to the site to begin drilling exploratory borings and install slope inclinometer casings for monitoring slide movements.  The Department of Civil Engineering at Auburn University was engaged to perform geophysical testing in conjunction with an existing research project for ALDOT.  Geotechnical engineering firm TTL also assisted with field investigation efforts. 

DBA and ALDOT immediately began evaluating several alternate concepts for stabilizing the slide and reopening the road during the soil and rock exploratory drilling.  The design team looked at several retaining wall options, a complete rebuild of the roadway, and bridges.  ALDOT selected a solution that removed most of the existing roadway embankments (built in 1947 and 1970) to reduce loading on the slope and then spanning the slide area with bridges built on the existing road alignments, with the bridges designed to withstand future movements of the slope.  Excavation was begun by Reed Contracting before bridge design was complete in order for the rough grading to be done before the bridge contractor mobilized.

The bridges are two-lane structures, one Northbound and one Southbound, each about 947 ft in length.  The superstructure is AASHTO BT-72 concrete girders and a concrete deck.  There are seven spans in each bridge each about 135ft long.  The grading work was begun while the bridge was still being designed to accelerate the schedule and shorten the time the road would be closed.

The foundations for each pier are a pair of 9.5ft diameter, permanently cased drilled shafts with 9ft diameter rock sockets.  The sockets are 14ft long into the limestone and shale bedrock.  The limestone uniaxial compressive strengths range from 10,820 psi to 28,100 psi. 

After much design and analysis in a highly compressed schedule, a bridge contract was let for bid in early May 2020, less than 3 months after the slide occurred.  Brasfield & Gorrie was the successful bidder and awarded a $15 million contract that has incentives for finishing early, and disincentives for finishing late. 

 

ALDOT UAV flight June 16, 2020

ALDOT UAV flight July 07, 2020

ALDOT UAV flight July 23, 2020

ALDOT UAV flight July 28, 2020

ALDOT UAV Flight Aug 08, 2020

ALDOT UAV Flight Sep 2, 2020

ALDOT UAV Flight Sep 15, 2020

 

Excavating first shaft on the site (DBA)

 

A.H. Beck (Beck) is the drilled shaft contractor, drilling each shaft, placing reinforcement, and placing concrete.   The 9.5ft diameter permanent casing is 5/8 inch wall thickness spiral weld 60ksi steel fabricated by Nucor in Birmingham, Alabama.  The shafts are reinforced with a 1.5inch wall thickness, 8ft diameter, 60ksi steel pipe. These pipes were rolled and welded by Favor Steel in Birmingham, Alabama before being trucked to the site.  The steel plate was manufactured by SSAB in Axis, Alabama near Mobile.  So, the structural steel pipes were completely Alabama-made and the steel travel almost the length of the state!

8ft diameter x 1.5in wall steel pipe for shaft reinforcement (DBA)

 

Inner structural pipe (1.5in) and outer casing (5/8in) (DBA)

 

The pair of shafts for each pier is connected by a reinforced concrete grade beam 10ft wide by 7ft high by 46ft long. To connect the shafts to the grade beam, a 14ft long reinforcement cage is placed in each shaft, embedded 8ft into the shaft with 6ft embedded in the grade beam. The cage consists of 28 No.18 Grade 75 bars.

Grade beam at NB Bent 7 with column steel (DBA)

 

Completed shaft with reinforcing cage to embed in grade beam (DBA)

 

The project includes a robust instrumentation plan with ShapeArray inclinometers installed in each shaft and in the slope, supplemented by traditional inclinometers in the slope and vibrating piezometers to monitor groundwater levels.  DBA and ALDOT will monitor the bridge and slope, intending to be able to measure displacement and calculate strain and loads in the shafts should the slope move again in the future.

Foundations are scheduled to be completed by the end of July 2020.  The deadline to have the bridge open to traffic is early December, 2020, but Brasfield and Gorrie has an aggressive plan to complete the project early and earn the bonus for early completion.   Volkert is the CE&I Consultant on the project for ALDOT, providing construction management and inspection services for the project.

Click HERE for some of the photos DBA team members have taken during construction.

To see aerial views from ALDOT’s UAV flight taken on July 10, 2020, click HERE.

 

 

DBA Project Highlight: MoDOT I-44 Project Bridge Rebuild

I-44 Construction Aerial View; video courtesy of Emery Sapp & Sons

DBA has partnered with bridge designer Parsons and prime contractor Emery Sapp & Sons on a design/build project in Southwest Missouri being administered by MoDOT.  Design is complete and the project is in construction phase.  The project involves replacing 13 bridges and rehabilitating another six bridges along a 30-mile stretch of I-44 between Sarcoxie and Halltown.  The $36 million project is progressing nicely with construction beginning in 2019 and on schedule to be completed by December 15, 2021. To get a birds-eye view of some of the work, check out the video at the top of the post (from Emery Sapp & Sons)

Although smaller bridges than DBA typically works on, challenging subsurface conditions and unique structure types have made things interesting with respect to foundation design and construction.  Foundation types for various structures include driven H-piles installed with high-strain dynamic testing, drilled shafts with rock sockets in various rock formations, and spread footings bearing on near surface bedrock where applicable.  Pinnacle bedrock surface and karstic foundation conditions are prevalent in the area and this project is no exception.  Foundation design had to anticipate the complex subsurface conditions and consider constructability throughout the entire design process.

More information on the project can be found at MoDOT’s project page:  https://www.modot.org/i-44-project-bridge-rebuild .  Below are some photos taken by DBA staff while on site.

Photo Credit: DBA

 

Pre-Bid Load Testing for the Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Public Private Partnership (P3) Project

DBA has been fortunate to be involved as a consult to Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for the  Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Project.  This project represents Alabama’s largest ever investment for a single infrastructure project.  The project includes a cable stayed bridge over the Mobile River and seven miles of bridge over Mobile Bay.  Bridge foundations therefore represent a major component of the estimated $2 billion project cost.  DBA serves as a foundation consultant under subcontract to Thompson Engineering, Inc..  Thompson is one of the ALDOT Advisory Team partners, the other partners being HDR and Mott MacDonald.

With the tremendous volume of foundations required for the project, the DBA/Thompson team worked with ALDOT’s Geotechnical Division to develop a pre-bid load test program to help reduce some of the risks that would face both ALDOT and prospective concessionaires.  Performing a deep foundation load test program during the procurement phase of a Public Private Partnership (P3) project can help the prospective concessionaires better define foundation design parameters and reduce uncertainties and risks related to constructability of the foundations.  The reduced risk leads to reduced costs by allowing the concessionaire to develop a more efficient design while minimizing contingency costs and potential delays related to foundation constructability or performance.

The load test program was designed to include the most likely foundation types that the prospective teams might use.  Several types of driven piles were installed and tested, including typical square and cylinder concrete piles used on the Alabama coast plus steel H-piles and an open-ended steel pipe pile.

All driven piles were subject to dynamic testing with a Pile Driving Analyzer during driving.  Restrikes with dynamic testing were conducted on all driven piles to evaluate potential strength gain with time.  Jetting techniques were specified for some piles to evaluate this installation technique which could potentially be used during construction.

Traditional axial static load tests were performed on steel HP14x89 and 18in Precast Prestressed Concrete (PPC) square piles.  Rapid (Statnamic) axial load tests were performed on 36 in PCC square piles, 54in PCC cylinder, and 60in steel open-end pipe piles.

A 72in diameter drilled shaft foundation was also installed and tested.  Axial load testing was done using a bi-directional load cell (AFT A-Cell).  Lateral load testing was done using the Statnamic device.

 

Here are some videos of the Statnamic testing, with slow motion action!

 

Foundation contractors that are part of a concessionaire team pursuing the project were allowed to bid the load test program.  Jordan Pile Driving was the successful bidder for the $3.7 million test project.  AFT provided the testing services for the project – dynamic, static, Statnamic, and A-Cell.

A summary of the results can be found in a presentation made to ALDOT at the 62nd Annual Alabama Transportation Conference on February 13, 2019.   (Click HERE to get the presentation). Publication of the results is anticipated to be made in the DFI Journal in the future.

Two Major Bridges in Minnesota Open to Traffic

St. Crox Crossing Extradosed Bridge; photo courtesy of MnDOT

Two DBA bridge projects in Minnesota opened to traffic recently.  The St. Croix Crossing near Stillwater and the Highway 53 Relocation in Virginia.  Both projects are milestones for MnDOT.  The St. Croix Crossing is the first extradosed bridge in the Midwest and only the second extradosed bridge in the United States.  The new Highway 53 Bridge is the tallest bridge in Minnesota.

Following a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony on the morning of Wednesday, August 2nd, the St. Croix Crossing saw its first traffic later that evening and has already alleviated traffic congestion  in downtown Stillwater,  as intended.  The interstate project was also heralded as a noteworthy example of government cooperation by The Wall Street Journal.

After officially breaking ground just shy of two years ago,  the new Highway 53 bridge opened to traffic on September 15th.  A dedication ceremony was held underneath the bridge that morning with Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and Congressman Rick Nolan in attendance.  In  anticipation of the new bridge, the iron range quad cities of Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, and Mountain Iron held a four-day, multi-event festive, Bridge Daze, in August.

Hwy 53 Bridge Across The Rouchleau Pit; photo courtesy of OxBlue construction cameras

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. This bridge is going to get packed with cars once it´s completed, that means there´s going to be lots of accidents. It´s not a bad idea to call One Sure Insurance to get covered before all that.

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, or dome shelter 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.

Goethals Bridge – Up and out of the ground

(Post and photos provided by John Turner, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE of DBA.)

DBA has had the privilege to be the geotechnical/foundation engineer for the Goethals Bridge Replacement (GBR)Project, a design-build project for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ). The project will replace the existing Goethals Bridge that was built in the 1920s and carries I-278 over the Arthur Kill River between Elizabeth, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York.

Construction of drilled shafts continues as the superstructure begins to emerge over the skyline between Elizabeth, NJ and Staten Island, NY.  The new bridge will be a dual-span 1,983-ft long cable-stayed bridge with approach spans of over 2,500 ft on each side.  The bridge is supported on over 200 drilled shaft foundations ranging in diameter from 4.5 ft to 10 ft and socketed into Passaic Formation siltstone.

Goethals April 2016

The GBR is a Public-Private Partnership (P3) that represents a major milestone for the PANYNJ in its distinguished history of bridge building in the greater New York City metropolitan area.  The existing Goethals Bridge along with the Outerbridge Crossing and the Bayonne Bridge comprise the three Port Authority bridges connecting Staten Island with New Jersey.  The Goethals Bridge and the Outerbridge Crossing are cantilever truss structures and both opened on the same day in 1928. They were designed by J.A.L. Waddell under the supervision of the eminent engineer Othmar H. Ammann (1879-1965), who was the designer of many other iconic bridges in the NY City area including the Bayonne Bridge (1931), the George Washington Bridge (1931), and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge (1964).  The designer of record for the replacement Goethals Bridge is Parsons Corporation, which is the successor firm of Robinson & Steinman, whose principal David B. Steinman was also a notable NY area bridge designer and a contemporary and rival of O.H. Ammann.

Each main pylon tower of the GBR is supported on a group of six 9-ft diameter drilled shafts and each anchor pier is supported by two 10-ft diameter shafts.  Approach piers are two-column bents with each column supported on a rock-socketed drilled shaft.

Goethals shaft 1

DBA is the foundation design engineer of record and this project provides an example of how rock-socketed drilled shafts can provide a reliable and cost-effective means of supporting a major bridge by taking advantage of the high resistances that can be achieved.  Key factors involved in taking advantage of rock sockets for this project were:  (1) load testing to demonstrate high axial resistances (>30 ksf side resistance and  >300 ksf base resistance), (2) utilization of all relevant construction QC/QA tools to ensure that rock sockets are constructed in a manner that is consistent with construction of the load-tested shafts that provide the basis of the design, (3) close collaboration between all members of the design-build team, and (4) adequate subsurface characterization, especially a thorough characterization of rock characteristics and their effect on socket resistances. Load testing for this project demonstrates that side and base resistances can be used in combination to design rock socketed shafts for axial loading.  This approach avoids the use of unnecessarily deep sockets, thereby minimizing the associated construction risks and costs.

Goethals rendering

The GBR project developer is NYNJ Link Developer, LLC and construction is being performed by a joint venture of Kiewit-Weeks-Massman (KWM).  Parsons is the lead designer.  A construction web-cam and additional information on the GBR can be found at the Port Authority’s website: http://www.panynj.gov/bridges-tunnels/goethals-bridge-replacement.html

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.

Goethals Bridge Replacement – Webcam!

goethals-replacement-logo

DBA is on the design-build team that is replacing the Goethals Bridge for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). We are not able to post much about the project or our involvement due to security agreements. However, the PANYNJ has a public website for the project (http://www.panynj.gov/bridges-tunnels/goethals-bridge-replacement.html) that has several webcams.  As is the case with most big projects these days, the webcams are a common feature and show some great views of the project.

To give you an idea of what the project involves, here is a summary from the PANYNJ site:

The replacement bridge will be located directly south of the existing bridge and will provide:

  • Three 12-foot-wide lanes in each direction replacing the current two narrow 10-foot-wide lanes
  • A 12-foot-wide outer shoulder and a 5-foot-wide inner shoulder in each direction
  • A 10-foot-wide sidewalk/bikeway along the northern edge of the New Jersey-bound roadway
  • Improved safety conditions and performance reliability by meeting current geometric design, structural integrity, security and seismic standards, and reduces life-cycle cost
  • A central corridor between the eastbound and westbound roadway decks, sufficient to accommodate potential transit service
  • State-of-the-art smart bridge technology

The project also includes the demolition of the existing bridge upon completion of the replacement bridge.

You can learn more about the project at the same web site.  There is also a site for the current bridge, including history of the construction, etc.