Investigations begin into California overpass collapse

Nine construction workers were injured on Friday night when temporary supports collapsed at a California highway site. Eight of workers remain hospitalised, with three in critical condition. Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) said that it will announce any change to their conditions. The work is part of the 91 Project, a US$1.4 billion scheme to improve State Route 91 from Corona to Riverside. East Grand Boulevard was closed to motorists while the 91 Project team began investigations into the partial collapse of the overpass. Local media reports say that a new bridge deck was being lowered into place when the section suddenly dropped by some 400mm and hit support beams, which collapsed onto the workers. “RCTC is dedicated to the safety of the 91 Project and the men and women who are making these infrastructure improvements,” said executive director Anne Mayer. “Our thoughts and prayers are with these workers and their families.” Construction of the project began in early 2014 completion is expected in 2017.

Parsons lands Dubai bridge contract

Parsons has won a consultancy contract for the improvement of Dubai’s Shindagha Corridor, including the provision of a new bridge. The new bridge will connect Bur Dubai to Deira and serve as a gateway to Dubai. The project also includes evaluation of an existing tunnel under the waterway, nearly 10km of a new 12-lane expressway, multiple major interchanges, and various local road improvements. Parsons' contract covers the preliminary concept study, preliminary design, final design, tender documentation and construction supervision.

Plans unveiled for new Dyfi Bridge

Proposals for a new US$36 million bridge in Wales have gone on public display today. The new Dyfi Bridge is designed to improve capacity and resilience on the A487, which is an important link between North and South Wales. The current crossing is narrow and regularly closed by floods or vehicle accidents, causing long diversions and extensive disruption. The proposed scheme consists of a new viaduct structure over the River Dyfi upstream of the existing bridge near Machynlleth. Transport minister Edwina Hart said: “The A487 is an important part of the Welsh north-south and east-west trunk road network. However the current Dyfi Bridge creates a pinch-point on this important road. This new bridge will greatly improve safety, journey times and network resilience, while enabling the historic Grade II* listed original bridge to remain in place.”

Taiwan unveils system to give early warning of bridge collapses

Taiwan's National Applied Research Laboratories has launched a patented system designed to give an early warning of possible bridge collapses due to flooding or scour. The system - which is said to be the first of its kind in the world - has various types of sensors, including ones buried around the piers to detect the development of scour. Other sensors will capture aspects such as vibration and water levels. Real-time monitoring and analysis of the results will be carried out using a cloud-based system and the information will serve as a basis for early closure of bridges found to be at risk of collapse. There are some 20,000 bridges in Taiwan, which is vulnerable to extreme weather including heavy rain that can lead to scour. Two fatal collapses in 2008 and 2009 were among the drivers for the development of the new safety system, which has already been tested on several bridges as part of the development process.

Challenges push back Bayonne Bridge schedule

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in the USA has announced a new timeline and cost estimate for the project to raise the deck of the Bayonne Bridge. Construction challenges and the harsh 2014 winter mean that the increased navigational clearance to accommodate larger ‘Post-Panamax’ ships is now expected to be in place by late 2017. Project completion is expected in mid-2019, potentially resulting in an increase in total project costs of approximately 15%. The complex US$1.3 billion ‘Raise the Roadway’ project involves raising the bridge’s roadway from a height of 46m to 65.5m (151 feet to 215 feet). A joint venture of Skanska Koch and Kiewit Infrastructure is building a new deckabove the existing road, while minimising disruption to traffic on the lower deck. The project also will provide drivers with wider lanes, new shoulders, a median divider and a cycle and pedestrian walkway.  "The Bayonne Bridge's 'Raise the Roadway' project is one of the most innovative and challenging projects the Port Authority has ever undertaken, and will help maintain our position as the East Coast's premier port for international trade," said executive director Pat Foye. "Although a number of challenges have impacted the project's timetable, we continue to monitor the Skanska JV's construction progress and, together with Skanska JV, anticipate completion within the schedule announced today." Michael Cobelli, president and CEO of Skanska Civil, said, "We are confident that we will complete the Bayonne Bridge's 'Raise the Roadway' project within the revised timetable. This has been a challenging project, but we have committed the resources to complete it successfully, with full awareness of how vitally important it is for the regional economy." Challenges that have necessitated the push-back of the construction schedule include the harsh winter of 2014-2015, changes in project staging to address community concerns, modifications to the existing steel arch and complicated steelwork activities that required additional repairs and modifications. Construction is almost 50% complete, with US$380m-worth of construction in place.

Winning team announced for replacement bridge

An international competition to design a replacement bridge in the City of Darmstadt, Germany has been won by Knight Architects and structural engineers Schüßler-Plan. Originally built in 1912, the current Rheinstrassenbrücke is a major link in the historic corridor between the city’s central square and the river Rhine in the west and crosses seven electrified rail tracks. The architectural aim was for a ‘beautiful ordinary’ design solution which is understated and respectful of its environment, providing a recognisable gateway both at rail and road level. An additional consideration was the bridge’s listed status, which required for the old stone abutments to be incorporated into the new design, remaining either in place or reused elsewhere in the structure. The new bridge is a fully integral concrete structure, supported by two sets of piers, and will be 62m in length and have an overall width of approximately 44m. This provides space for six road lanes, wide pedestrian and cyclist tracks (6m on each side) and a dedicated two-track tram corridor. The lens-shaped piers have been designed to provide enough stability for train impact in the central sections. The visually slender pier ends are vertically elongated above the deck in the shape of a narrow steel extrusion that serves as both lighting column and support structure for the tram electrification.

First tower base for Gerald Desmond Bridge completed in 12-hour pour

A 12-hour concrete pour has been carried out to complete the pile cap for the first of the two towers of the new Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach, USA. Construction of the two-storey pile cap required the placement of some 2,450m3 of concrete. “Today’s ‘big pour’ is a significant milestone in the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project and the result of months of planning, preparation and cooperation,” said Duane Kenagy, capital programs senior executive lead for the Port of Long Beach. The two 157m-tall towers on either side of the Port’s Back Channel will be the main features of the cable-stayed bridge, which will be one of the tallest of its kind in the USA. The main span of the bridge will be 610m long and 62.5m above the water. The pile cap construction operation required considerable coordination, including an elaborate rebar structure built over six weeks to connect 12 underground piles into a single unit for the base of the tower. Concrete deliveries had to be timed from two plants. More than 300 truckloads of concrete were poured into the pile cap. The bridge project is a joint effort of Caltrans and the Port, with funding support from the US Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Minnesota publishes study on using drones for bridge inspections

Minnesota Department of Transportion has published a study into the effectiveness of using unmanned aerial vehicles in bridge inspections. The US state has 20,291 bridges of 3m or more and 4,571 trunk highway bridges that all require inspection and so MnDOT is exploring ways to control cost and manage risk by using drones. The study looked at the effectiveness and possibility of the drones to aid in bridge inspections by gathering images without the use of an under-bridge inspection vehicle. “Using drones could help MnDOT decrease the rising costs of bridge inspection while minimizing risks associated with current bridge inspection methods,” said Jennifer Zink, MnDOT bridge inspection engineer. The research team used drones on four bridge inspections around the state. The team found that drones’ ability to gather high quality still images and video footage of bridges correlated with the findings in previous bridge inspections that did not use drones. The drones also captured data from infrared cameras as well as data needed to construct maps and 3D models of bridge elements. MnDOT emphasised that operators of drones in the USA must comply with Federal Aviation Authority requirements. Goals in phase two of the study, which begins shortly, include operating the drone without a GPS signal and gathering images from the underside of bridges. The study can be found at (17MB pdf).

Canada drops plans for major refurb of Pattullo Bridge

Plans for a major refurbishment of the Pattullo Bridge in British Columbia have been dropped in favour of expedited construction of its replacement. The council of the lcoal city of New Westminster has expressed support for transport operator TransLink's decision to revise Pattullo Bridge rehabilitation plans in order to minimise disruption. Translink will now focus only on essential deck repairs and keeping the bridge operational until a replacement is complete. "While there will still be disruption as rehab work is carried out, having this last for five months as opposed to a year and half is a much better situation for both New Westminster and Surrey residents and businesses," said New Westminster mayor Jonathan Coté. "It's critical that the Pattullo Bridge remain operational but given the focus on a replacement, we shouldn't be spending a lot of money and time on something that will only be dismantled in the near future." Pattullo Bridge was built in 1937 and is one of the oldest crossings in Metro Vancouver. A new four-lane Pattullo Bridge financed through tolling has been included in the 10-year transportation plan.

New South Wales tenders bridge and road scheme

The Australian state of New South Wales has opened the tender process for a US$72.8 million road widening scheme that includes a new bridge at Kooragang Island. Tenders have now been invited from prequalified contractors for construction of the duplication of Tourle Street and Cormorant Road. Preliminary works began last week to ensure the successful tenderer is able to start work as soon as possible. The contractor will be responsible for duplicating 3.8km of road and providing a new two-lane bridge on the western side of the existing bridge.

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Fine Tuned Structures recently completed the design of new apartment building in downtown Charleston, South Carolina