Category Archives: Foundation Testing

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)

NCHRP Synthesis 478 – Design and Load Testing of Large Diameter Open-Ended Driven Piles

nchrp_syn_478_Design and Load Testing of Large Diameter Open-Ended Driven Piles_2015

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.

Brown, D.A. and Thompson, W.R. (2015). NCHRP Synthesis 478, Design and Load Testing of Large Diameter Open-Ended Driven Piles, Transportation Research Board, National Academies, Washington, D.C.

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.

Foundations for the New Sacremento Entertainment and Sports Center

 

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Contributed by Rob Saunders, P.E. – DBA

DBA has been working on an exciting new project currently under construction 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.  Once completed, the ESC will replace Sleep Train Arena as the home of the Kings.  According to Kings Chairman Vivek Ranadive, the 17,500-seat arena will be “one of the most iconic structures on the planet … It’s going to put Sacramento on the world map.”

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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 demolisLogo_Malcolm_Stacked_Bluehed 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.

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. 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.

The groundbreaking for the project was featured by the Sacremento Bee on October 29, 2014 (link).

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.

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.

Leo Frigo Bridge–Repair Design

The Wisconsin DOT was set to request bids this week for repairs to the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge on I-43 in Green Bay, with an anticipated start of construction on November 4th and reopening of the bridge on January 17th.  The repair will consist of using drilled shafts installed adjacent to the existing piers with a post-tensioned extension of the pile cap to transfer the loads to the shafts.  A schematic of the design from Wisconsin DOT (via Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)

Scot Becker, director of the Bureau of Structures and the state’s bridge engineer, said the fix will consist of installing four concrete shafts beneath five affected piers to take over support from corroded underground steel structures, called pilings. Then, the bridge itself will be jacked up 2 feet, and concrete and steel will be poured to keep the bridge in position.

The bridge, which spans the Fox River in Green Bay, has been closed since late September, after pilings became corroded and buckled under one of the piers, causing a 400-foot-long section of the bridge to sink 2 feet. Since then, it has drooped another half inch, and the state is monitoring the bridge for further movement.

An investigation concentrating mainly in the area from Quincy St. to the Fox River found that soil surrounding the pier contained industrial byproducts over wetlands, which caused the corrosion.

Temporary supports are already being installed by Lunda to shore up the sagging spans until the repairs can be completed.

The Green Bay Press Gazette has a page archiving all of their stories, videos, photos, etc. concerning this event.

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Leo Frigo Bridge–Corroded Piling

Image: From GreenBayPressGazette.com

Early indications are that the settlement of the pier at the Leo Frigo Bridge in Green Bay, Wisconsin is the result of corrosion of the piling that supports the pier.  Randy Post over at Geoprac.net  has a post up with video and a link to this story in the Green Bay Gazette Press.  From the story:

Corrosion of steel pilings below a support pier on the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge in Green Bay caused Pier 22 to buckle last week, creating a long, deep dip in the bridge deck and forcing the bridge’s indefinite closure.

The 100-foot-long pilings under the pier were degraded from a combination of water and the composition of soil surrounding the bridge support, Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials said Thursday.

It appears that the suspect piers are in an area of fill, the composition of which may be contributing to the corrosion of the piles:

The investigation is focused on the area from the Fox River east to North Quincy Street on the east side of the bridge, where fill materials like foundry sand and organic materials are part of the soil profile.

“We’ve encountered all kinds of different things,” Buchholz said about soil samples in that area.

In addition to investigating the cause of the settlement of the pier, the bridge has been inspected by the Wisconsin DOT and is not in danger of collapse.  As a precaution, the bridge remains closed during the investigation.

Deep Foundations Events Update–October 2013

As involved as we are in the deep foundations industry (and just returning from the DFI annual conference), it seemed appropriate to take time to highlight several upcoming events in the industry.  All of these are great opportunities to get PDH credits, do some networking, and build relationships in the deep foundations industry.  Most are cooperative efforts of one or more of the G-I, DFI, PDCA, and ADSC.  All of them have a line-up of great speakers that are leaders in the industry.  Click on the links below to learn more about each one. 

 

14th Annual Design and Installation of Cost-Efficient Piles Conference
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Sheraton North Houston, Houston, TX

The DICEP conference will present modern approaches to maximize Efficiency, Effectiveness and Economy (E3) of driven piles through a series of presentations including driven pile design, testing, evaluation and case studies.  Steel sheet pile design and corrosion protection are also addressed.

 

 

Drilled Shaft Foundations Seminar – Reliability in Drilled Shaft Foundations
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Hilton Midtown, New York, NY

The program will feature presentations by leading industry design engineers and civil engineering contractors on some problems encountered with drilled shaft foundations and how those problems were solved.

 

 

Driven Pile – A Foundation for the 21st Century
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville, TN

  • A one-day specialty seminar on driven piles
  • Featuring 11 presentations by key industry professionals
  • Provides 6 PDH credits for all participants, including 1 PDH on Ethics  

 

 

Here are few open Calls for Abstracts (by order of due date):

IFCEE 2015 – March 17-21, 2015 – San Antoniio, TX – Due October 28, 2013

DFI 39th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations – October 21-24, 2014 – Atlanta, GA – Due January 10, 2014

DFI Superpile 2014 – June 19-20, 2014 – Cambridge, MA – Due February 3, 2014

DBA Engineers Coauthor Cover Story of Latest DFI Magazine

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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.