Category Archives: Bridge Foundations

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.

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.

New PEER Report – Evaluation of Collapse and Non-Collapse of Parallel Bridges Affected by Liquefaction and Lateral Spreading

webPEER-2014-10-Brandenberg

Our own Ben Turner (future Dr. Turner!) was lead author on a report by the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER) on liquefaction and lateral spreading effects on bridges. The report is titled “Evaluation of Collapse and Non-Collapse of Parallel Bridges Affected by Liquefaction and Lateral Spreading”. Ben’s coauthors are Dr. Scott J. Brandenberg and Dr. Jonathan P. Stewart of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCLA. From the abstract:

The Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center and the California Department of Transportation have recently developed design guidelines for computing foundation demands during lateral spreading using equivalent static analysis (ESA) procedures. In this study, ESA procedures are applied to two parallel bridges that were damaged during the 2010 M 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake in Baja California, Mexico. The bridges are both located approximately 15 km from the surface rupture of the fault on soft alluvial soil site conditions. Estimated median ground motions in the area in the absence of liquefaction triggering are peak ground  accelerations = 0.27g and peak ground velocity = 38 cm/sec (RotD50 components). The bridges are structurally similar and both are supported on deep foundations, yet they performed differently during the earthquake. A span of the pile-supported railroad bridge collapsed, whereas the drilled-shaft-supported highway bridge suffered only moderate damage and remained in service following the earthquake. The ESA procedures applied to the structures using a consistent and repeatable framework for developing input parameters captured both the collapse of the railroad bridge and the performance of the highway bridge. Discussion is provided on selection of the geotechnical and structural modeling parameters as well as combining inertial demands with kinematic demands from lateral spreading.

This report is part of Ben’s work on his doctoral dissertation. You can download the report by clicking on the linked citation below.

Turner, B., Brandenberg, S.J. and Stewart, J.P. (2014). “Evaluation of Collapse and Non-Collapse of Parallel Bridges Affected by Liquefaction and Lateral Spreading”, PEER Report 2014/10, Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkley, August, 2014, 94pp.

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.

NCHRP Report 697 – Design Guidelines for Increasing Lateral Resistance of Bridge Pile Foundations

nchrp_rpt_697_coverWe have added a link to the NCHRP Report No. 697 Design Guidelines for Increasing Lateral Resistance of Bridge Pile Foundations.  This report was published in 2011 and authored by Kyle Rollins, Pd.D., P.E. of Brigham Young University and our own Dan Brown.  Dr. Rollins is a Professor in Geotechnical Engineering specializing in earthquake engineering and soil improvement.

 

In the forward of the report, Andrew Lemer of TRB writes:

NCHRP Report 697: Design Guidelines for Increasing the Lateral Resistance of Highway- Bridge Pile Foundations by Improving Weak Soils presents design guidance for strengthening of soils to resist lateral forces on bridge pile foundations. Lateral loads may be produced by wave action, wind, seismic events, ship impact, or traffic. Strengthening of soil surrounding the upper portions of piles and pile groups—for example by compaction, replacement of native soil with granular material, or mixing of cement with soil—may be more cost-effective than driving additional piles and extending pile caps as ways to increase the bridge foundation’s capacity to resist lateral forces associated with these loads. This report presents computational methods for assessing soil-strengthening options using finite-element analysis of single piles and pile groups and a simplified approach employing commercially available software. The analysis methodology and design guidelines will be helpful to designers responsible for bridge foundations likely to be exposed to significant lateral loads.

Be sure to browse all of the nifty reports and projects in geotechnical and foundation engineering at TRB here.

Also check out our Publications page regularly for new postings.

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

Bubble Curtain for Driving Piles at Tappan Zee

TZ curtain_lohud

Image source: lohud.com

The design-build team Tappan Zee Constructors that is building the Tappan Zee Bridge is installing the over 200-ft long steel pipe piles using a relatively simple concept to mitigate vibration impacts on fish – a bubble curtain.  Such curtains have become more common as an approach to mitigate potential impacts (pardon the pun) on aquatic life when large piles are driven over water.  The vibrations from the hammer impact on the pile during driving are reduced or dampened by a curtain of bubbles generated around the pile by compressed air.  An item in the December 26th ASCE Smart Brief linked an article in The Journal News (White Plains, NY) highlighting the use of the curtain on the Tappan Zee project.

 

A rubber-looking sleeve covered the hammer where it met the pile, dampening some of the noise in the air. Underwater, however, it was a curtain of bubbles serving as the aquatic equivalent of earplugs for fish and other creatures in the Hudson River.

Aluminum rings are slid over the pilings like the rings on a shower curtain rod before any banging starts. Air pumped into the rings produces a sheath of bubbles in the water around the pile. The froth generated in the water is called a bubble curtain.

“Bubble curtains are designed to protect the fish in the area from the noise generated by the hammer impact below the water level,” said Walter Reichert, project manager for Tappan Zee Constructors. “This divides the water into basically two sections. It greatly reduces the sound waves.”

Check out the article for some neat pictures and a cool video about the process (with hammer sounds!).  Here is a small picture gallery from lohud.com.