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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) has released a synthesis report prepared by Dan and Robert on large diameter piles: NCHRP Synthesis 478, Design and Load Testing of Large Diameter Open-Ended Driven Piles. The report is a summary of the state of practice with regard to Large Diameter Open-Ended Piles (LDOEPs) in the transportation industry. We conducted a survey of state DOTs as well as interviews with private practitioners to summarize current practices as well as recommend best practices with regard to the selection, design, installation, and testing of LDOEPs. Several state DOTs are using LDOEPs more regularly where large foundation loads may exist and/or the piles are subject to significant unsupported length due to scour, liquefaction, or very weak surficial soils. Marine construction conditions also favor the use of these piles, particularly where pile bents might be employed to eliminate footings.
You can download a PDF of the report or purchase a hard copy at the link below.
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.
DBA has been working on an exciting new project currently under construction together with http://www.sportsandsafetysurfaces.co.uk/ in downtown Sacramento, California: the new Sacramento Arena, known as the Entertainment and Sports Center (ESC). The ESC will be a multi-use, publicly owned indoor arena. The Sacramento Kings will be the primary tenant and the arena is expected to host other indoor sports and music concerts, as well.
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Turner Construction is the head of development for the new arena. Malcolm Drilling Company was awarded the contract to design and construct the foundation system. DBA worked closely with Malcolm to design Omega piles (a drilled and grouted displacement pile) to serve as the foundations for the new arena. The site presented unique design challenges, including liquefiable soil conditions and existing deep foundations from the demolished portion of the Downtown Plaza.
DBA’s design incorporates 18” and 24” Omega piles. An extensive site-specific load test program was performed to determine the axial resistances of the piles. Eight test piles were instrumented with strain gauges to measure the load distribution in the piles. Supplemental cone penetration testing was performed following load testing to better correlate the load test results with the subsurface conditions.
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The piles were designed to resist ground motions from seismic events using site-specific ground curvature data developed by Pacific Engineering and Analysis. The piles were designed to resist the curvature at the anticipated pile section with only a single center reinforcing bar, eliminating the need to extend the entire cage to the bottom of the pile. This detail in the design is very important to ease the pile installation for the site conditions.
The final design incorporates a total of 952 piles to support the arena structure (346 18” dia. Piles and 606 24” dia. piles). The new arena is estimated to cost $477 million, with $255 million of that being funded by the City of Sacramento, it will even include the work of some of the top professional locksmith in the area to help secure the construction accesses from the ground up. The rest of the arena ($222 million) will be funded by the Sacramento Kings. Construction began October 29, 2014 and is planned to be completed by October of 2016.
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.
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.
DBA has had the pleasure of working with T.Y. Lin and Slayden–Sundt 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. According to www.cyclonebuildings.com, 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
Specialists in Deep Foundation Design, Construction, and Testing and Slope Stability Problems