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.
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 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.
TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Research Results Digest 380: Guidelines for Geofoam Applications in Slope Stability Projects explores the use of expanded polystyrene-block geofoam for slope stabilization projects. For the purpose of the report, slope stabilization projects include new roadways as well as repair of existing roadways that have been damaged by slope instability or slope movement.
The research was performed by the Department of Civil Engineering at The University of Memphis (UoM). David Arellano, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at UoM, was the Project Director. The other project investigators were Timothy D. Stark, Professor and Consulting Engineer, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; John S. Horvath, Consulting Engineer and Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Manhattan College; and Dov Leshchinsky, President of ADAMA Engineering, Inc., and Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware.
This report presents the results of a study performed to develop a comprehensive document that provides both state-of-the-art knowledge and state-of-practice design guidance to facilitate the use of EPS-block geofoam for slope stabilization and repair. This report includes the following five primary research products: (1) summary of relevant engineering properties, (2) a comprehensive design guideline, (3) a material and construction standard, (4) economic data, and (5) a detailed numerical design example.
The project was initiated to develop comprehensive design guidelines for use of geofoam in slope stability applications. According to the Digest, geofoam use is becoming more widespread in the U.S., but the adoption of it as a routine roadway construction material has been slowed by lack of design guidelines.
Although EPS-block geofoam for road construction is an established technology and despite the more than 30 years of extensive and continuing worldwide use of EPS-block geofoam, it has been underutilized in U.S. practice because a comprehensive design guideline for its use as lightweight fill in roadway embankments has been unavailable. There was, therefore, a need in the United States to develop formal and detailed design documents for use of EPS-block geofoam in roadway applications.
In addition to the ADSC EXPO 2012 earlier in March (see post here), the annual Geo-Institute meeting for 2012, GeoCongress 2012 , was held later in the month in Oakland, California. The conference featured a very large technical program with a variety of tracks covering geotechnical engineering topics. There were also the annual named lectures (Terzaghi, Peck, etc.) and other special events. Randy Post wrote about his time at the GeoCongress at his blog, GeoPrac.net. Check out all of his posts on the conference, including photos and video.
A key feature of this congress was the State of the Art (SOA) and State of the Practice (SOP) Lectures given throughout the four days. Thirty prominent engineers were invited to give the SOA/SOP lectures. Dan gave one of the SOP lectures with his highlighting advances in drilled foundation use and selection. His paper, along with all of the other SOA/SOP lectures, is included in GSP No. 226, Geotechnical Engineering State of the Art and Practice, Keynote Lectures from GeoCongress 2012. His presentation is linked on the image below.
During the regular technical sessions, John Turner presented a paper on a recent project case history on rock-socketed drilled shaft foundations used for a bridge . His paper is in the conference proceedings volume (GSP No. 225):
Last week’s International Foundation Congress and Equipment Exposition was a huge success! Dan gave a keynote address on Tuesday on managing risk in deep foundations within the design-build delivery model. Paul, Erik, and I also had papers to present. The technical sessions were excellent, the indoor exhibits were excellent, and the outdoor exhibits of foundation equipment were outstanding! The ADSC, Geo-Institute, and PDCA were the co-organizers of the event. A big hats off to all of the staff of all three organizations that made the event a huge success! Thanks and “atta boy” go to Mohamad Hussein, P.E. (Conference Chair) and to Dan (Technical Program Chair) for all of their work, as well as the rest of the organizing committee.
Well, the ADSC 2008 Faculty Workshop Field Day was a great success! A group of 46 civil engineering faculty members from across the country participated in the week-long workshop that culminated in a field demonstration day at the World Headquarters of Dan Brown and Associates in Sequatchie, Tennessee. The participants and instructors were treated to installation and testing demonstrations of drilled shaft foundations, micropile foundations, and anchored earth retention systems. The load tests included a static load test of a micropile and a Statnamic test of a drilled shaft, which provided some of the day’s excitement. Installation demonstrations of the various drilled foundations and anchors allowed the participants to observe how the various elements are installed. Even though we had to dodge an occasional thundershower, everyone had a great time and felt that they went away with a lot of valuable information for their classes back home.