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.
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.”
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.
Lateral Statnamic test, picture by David Graham of DBA, click here for a YouTube video
DBA has been selected by MnDOT as a geotechnical and load testing consultant for the design phase load test program and foundation design of a new bridge crossing the the St. Croix River near Oak Park Heights and Stillwater, Minnesota. The new bridge will carry State Highway 36 across the St. Croix River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Currently, Highway 36 is carried on an 80-year old two-lane vertical lift bridge in downtown Stillwater. The new bridge will divert the heavy through traffic away from the historic downtown center and reduce travel time for commuters. The iconic lift bridge will be converted to a pedestrian and bicycle only structure.
Work began this summer on the load test program which consisted of one 8-foot test shaft, two 24-inch driven steel pipe piles, and two 42-inch driven steel pipe piles, all installed in the St. Croix River along the alignment of the new bridge. Local contractor Carl Bolander & Sons Co. was selected as the general contractor for the load testing program. Bolander self-performed the installation of the test piles and sub-contracted the construction of the test shaft to Case Foundation Company, of Chicago, Illinois. Axial load testing of the test shaft was performed by Loadtest, Inc., of Gainesville, Florida, using Osterberg Cells (O-cells). Dynamic testing of the driven piles using the pile driving analyzer (PDA) was performed by local geotechnical consultant Braun Intertec. Axial testing of the driven piles and lateral testing of the shaft and one of each size pile was performed using the Statnamic Device by Applied Foundation Testing, Inc. (AFT), of Jacksonville, Florida. DBA provided pre-test recommendations, assisted MnDOT in construction oversight, provided analysis and review of the test results, and made design recommendations based on the test results.
Following the successful load test program, DBA is working with MnDOT’s structural design consultants for the project, HDR, Inc. and Buckland & Taylor Ltd. to optimize the bridge design. Already, the design team has been able to lengthen the bridge spans and eliminate a river pier as a result of the load test results, as was recently reported by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). Also, because the total number of drilled shafts required to support the main pier towers has been reduced, construction on the foundations will been moved up to 2013 rather than the original estimated start date in 2014, also reported by MPR.
Some new pictures of the Hastings bridge project in Hastings, Minnesota have been added to our Picasa Web Album: Hastings Bridge Construction. The pictures were taken by myself, David Graham, who has been in the area working on a load test program for a new bridge crossing the St. Croix River near Stillwater, Minnesota, and Griff Wigley, our blog coach who lives nearby in Northfield, Minnesota. The pictures show some of the recently poured deck sections, the completed piers, and the main span arch construction. Once completed, the main span arch will be moved onto barges, floated downstream, and lifted into place in one piece. We have chronicled this interesting and successful project in several previous blog posts that can be found here.
We have added Mike Holloway’s presentation at DFI SuperPile 2012 on May 17, 2012 to our Presentations Page. Mike discussed some of the issues related to pile testing and what can influence the blow counts that are often relied upon to accept piles. He covered the types of testing, limitations of various methods, and issues to consider when applying test results to production piling.
Massive prestressed concrete girders, some of them setting a record for the longest concrete girders used on a Minnesota bridge, have been set at the New Hastings Bridge, currently under construction in Hastings, Minnesota. The largest girders are 174 feet long, 8 feet tall, and weigh 108 tons! There is a video of one of these huge beams being delivered on a 16 axle truck, below. An article from the December 2011 issue of Concrete Products magazine about the girders can be found here. To date, all of the girders between the north abutment and main span have been placed. Crews are preparing piers 5 and 6 for the main span steel arches, which are scheduled to be floated in by barge and lifted into place late this year. MnDOT has two web cams where the bridge construction and the arch construction can be viewed. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has also been following the construction. Their latest article, which hails the bridge as “a monumental marvel,” can be found here.
As massive concrete piers rise from the Mississippi river in southeast Minnesota, people have begun to take notice of what will become the longest free-standing tied-arch bridge in North America. A unique project in several respects, the new Hasting bridge has recently been featured in articles on the websites of ENR and Roads & Bridges. The ENR article is a republication of an article that originally appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune highlighting the construction process of the last year, with particular focus on the process of constructing the river piers. The Roads & Bridges article is a more technically in-depth piece written by the lead bridge engineer Vincent T. Gastoni, P.E., of Parsons Transportation Group. Both articles discuss some of the many geotechnical changes faced on this project. This excerpt from Roads & Bridges is a concise description of the pier foundations and some of the reasoning behind their selection:
The main river piers are concrete delta-style frames with the tied-arch superstructure fully framed into the pier through the knuckle connection. The stiffness of the foundation system was then integral to the overall force effects in the structure. The north pier is located in 190 ft of soft soils overlaying rock and supported on unfilled 42-in. driven steel pipe piles. Drilled shafts were investigated early but were not cost-effective, impacted the schedule and presented a risk to the existing bridge due to potential caving effects. Statnamic pile load testing was used to validate the vertical capacity and lateral performance of the 42-in. piles. The south pier footing is close to the rock surface; however, the rock was deeper, more sloped than expected, and the originally planned spread footing was changed to short drilled shafts during the final design. Dan Brown & Associates provided the team with geotechnical analysis and recommendations.
Our Tim Siegel pointed out that the statement “It’s a marvel of engineering that requires ingenious construction techniques, most of which are invisible to the drivers whizzing by overhead,” from the Star Tribune, is an accurate description of how our work as foundation designers and constructors is often viewed. Although much of the ingenuity and innovation that goes into the geotechnical aspects of projects often goes unnoticed by the general public, it is certainly refreshing to see articles like these. For us at DBA, it is even more refreshing to see our efforts credited by name as they were in the article by Vince when he wrote, “Dan Brown & Associates provided the team with geotechnical analysis and recommendations.”
For a design-build project with so many different geotechnical components (driven piles, drilled shafts, spread footings, retaining walls, a column-supported embankment, and light weight fill), it is hard to believe that our role as the lead geotechnical engineer is nearing completion just a little over a year after construction began. At this point, the only foundations that have yet to be constructed are some of the rock bearing spread footings at the south approach. DBA will also monitor instrumentation installed in the column-supported embankment for the next two years.
The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies has published a National Cooperative Highway Research Program synthesis report by Dan and Robert: NCHRP Synthesis 418–Developing Production Pile Driving Criteria From Test Pile Data. This synthesis provides a survey of the current practices used by transportation agencies to develop pile driving criteria, with special attention on the use of test pile data. The report covers issues related to developing driving criteria, the current practices used by the responding agencies, recommended useful practices that were identified, along with descriptions of the practical approach several agencies use to integrate a range of technologies to develop pile driving criteria under typical conditions. The information collected indicates that practices used by transportation agencies to develop pile driving criteria for production pile installation can be described as highly variable in terms of the level and sophistication of the testing performed.
Included in the report are:
Responses from a survey sent to all 50 state departments of transportation plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (44 of the 52 agencies provided responses).
Interviews performed by telephone or in-person of nine of the responding agencies selected based on the written survey responses.
A comprehensive literature review on the range of practices included in test pile programs and their use in developing production pile driving criteria.
Discussions of the survey results.
Useful practices identified from the surveys.
Identification of research needs for this topic.
To purchase the print version of this report or get a PDF, follow this link to TRB. Click the “View This PDF” to get the PDF.
Please note that if you order the printed version, Appendices B and C (copies of the completed survey forms and interview notes) are available via download only.
Well, I, David, have survived my first (and hopefully last) winter in Minnesota. I spent most of January and February observing the installation of the Pier 5 drilled shafts at the new Hastings bridge project in Hastings, Minnesota. In addition to the drilled shafts, there has been a lot activity at Hastings since Aaron last blogged about this project in January. A link to his post is here. All of the ground improvement piles for the column-supported embankment have been installed and approximately 75% of the caps have been poured. The 42-inch piles and pile caps for Piers 8, 9, and 10 are also complete. Piles for the north embankment retaining wall have been installed and construction of the wall has begun. Excavation for the rock bearing spread footings that will support the south land piers is in progress. Work at Piers 6 and 7 and on the north shore are currently on hold as the Mississippi River is experiencing its annual spring flood. The water level is about 14 feet above normal elevation.
I have taken the pictures Paul and I have collected over the last few months and uploaded some of the more interesting ones to a Picasa web album. The pictures are generally in chronological order and cover most of the construction process from November of 2010 right up to the end of March 2011. A link to our our video of a Statnamic load test at Hastings that Aaron blogged about is here.
Specialists in Deep Foundation Design, Construction, and Testing and Slope Stability Problems