Manufacturing defect blamed for NZ bridge failure

Initial engineering reports indicate there was a manufacturing defect in a link of heavy duty chain that failed suddenly on the Hopuruahine Bridge in New Zealand earlier this month. Four hikers fell some 8.5m into the river when the cable failed, causing the bridge to tip (link opens in new tab). Department of Conservation (DOC) deputy director general operations Mike Slater said that laboratory analysis conducted at the University of Canterbury School of Engineering has revealed quench cracks and embrittlement in a section of 24mm-diameter high tensile chain used on the bridge. DOC is now seeking confirmation of the defects through a second round of specialist testing. Slater added that the specific batch of chain found on the Hopurahine Bridge was not used in the construction of the other nine smaller bridges on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk and they have all passed detailed engineering inspections. Checks have not revealed any sections of this batch being used in DOC's other suspension bridges around the country. DOC will be installing new cable strops on the Hopuruahine Bridge over the coming weeks and will be working to recommission the structure after fresh load testing is completed.

Fabrication begins of New Jersey lift bridge towers

Tampa Tank Inc.-Florida Structural Steel (TTI-FSS) has begun fabrication of two 55m-tall towers for the new Wittpenn Bridge in New Jersey, USA. The vertical lift bridge opened in 1930 and carries Route 7 traffic over the Hackensack River between Kearny and Jersey City.  Some 1,930 tonnes of bridge steel will be used to build the two towers. Each tower supports a counterweight box about 33m long and weighing 160 tonnes before being filled with concrete. The scope of work for the TTI-FSS team includes the two towers and the two counterweight boxes.  “This is one of the largest vertical lift span bridges in the country,” said TTI-FSS project manager Casey Morey, “and we are one of only a handful of steel fabrication companies in the country with the capacity for building such a structure, as well as having access to a deep-water berth for shipping the 18 pieces by barge to the project site.” All detailing and design drawings will be produced in-house. Fabrication will be take place at TTI-FSS’ three main plants in Tampa, Florida. Components will be shipped in October 2016 from the company’s Port Tampa facility using the adjacent deep-water marine berth. The existing bridge will be maintained until the new structure is in place. The superstructure of the existing bridge will be demolished once the new bridge is open to traffic.

Autonomous flying drones build rope bridge – video

Autonomous flying drones have been used to build a rope bridge strong enough for the project's researchers to cross. The project at ETH Zurich in Switzerland is a collaboration between the Institute for Dynamic Systems & Control and Gramazio Kohler Research. The research was featured in Bridge design & engineering’s Smart Technology supplement last year. The researchers said that for the first time small flying machines have been shown capable of autonomously building load-bearing structures at full-scale, marking a step further towards using the technique in real-world scenarios. The machines are equipped with a motorised spool that allows them to control the tension acting on the rope during deployment. Except for the required anchor points at both ends of the structure, the bridge consists exclusively of tensile elements and its connections and links were created entirely by the flying machines. It spans 7.4m between two scaffolding structures and consists of nine rope segments for a total rope length of about 120m. Elements such as knots, links and braids make up the crossing. The rope used for the experiments is made out of Dyneema, a strong and lightweight material ideal for aerial construction. A 4mm-diameter rope weighing 7g per metre can sustain 1,300kg. A video has been produced showing the build and the researchers crossing the bridge.   

Meccano footbridge sets world record

Third-year engineering students from Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, have set a new world record by building a footbridge entirely from Meccano. The temporary Meccano bridge, spanning more than 30m across Belfast’s Clarendon Dock, was unveiled at public event on 19 September. About 11,000 pieces of the model-building system were used to build the 600kg bridge. Representatives from Guinness World Records were on site to confirm that the bridge earned the record for the world’s largest ever Meccano construction. The year-long project was the idea of academics and students from the School of Planning, Architecture & Civil Engineering, as part of the university’s outreach programme to encourage more children to think about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Dr Danny McPolin, who led the project, said: “We see this event not only as an opportunity to celebrate the students’ and staff’s incredible work over the past year, but also a chance to give local children an insight into the exciting courses on offer at Queen’s.” The project received funding from the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure, Aecom, Meccano and Queen’s Annual Fund with technical support and advice from civil engineering contractor McLaughlin & Harvey.  Smyths Toys and Belfast Harbour supported the event. The bridge - which has already been taken down - was some 7m longer than a temporary Meccano bridge built in Liverpool in the north west of England in 2009. The north west of England is also the site of a permanent footbridge built two years ago from giant Meccano-style pieces (links open in new tabs).

Celebrations mark official completion of Port Mann Bridge

The Port Mann Bridge is officially complete after a complex six-year construction project. Construction of the Port Mann/Highway 1 project in British Columbia, Canada, concluded with the implementation of the final time-saving measure - live travel-time information displays to show how fast a driver’s commute will be. The 2km-long bridge is made of three key sections: a cable-stayed main span bridge across the Fraser River, the south approach in Surrey and the north approach in Coquitlam. “Without the builders and visionaries behind the Port Mann/Highway 1 project, drivers would still be bumper-to-bumper in Western Canada’s worst bottleneck,” said Todd Stone, minister of transportation and infrastructure. He was speaking at an event to mark the completion of the scheme, which is the largest highway construction project in British Columbia’s history. He tweeted that the long climb to get to the top of the bridge was worth it, with great views of Surrey and Coquitlam. Traffic began using eight of the 10 lanes in December 2012. The bridge was built by Kiewit/Flatiron General Partnership under a US$1.81bn design-build agreement with the province of British Columbia, which set up a public agency -  Transportation Investment Corporation - to implement the scheme. The Port Mann Bridge is one of the busiest crossings in Canada with approximately 100,000 crossings a day.

London oversight committee probes Garden Bridge design procurement

The oversight committee of the Greater London Authority (GLA) is investigating the procurement of the design for the controversial Garden Bridge. The committee's meeting tomorrow will put questions to several people, as well as considering an audit published yesterday by Transport for London (TfL) into the procurement of the design and development services for the bridge. The GLA said that Transport for London’s (TfL) management of the design procurement of the project - officially called the  Temple to South Bank Footbridge - has emerged as one of the main controversies.  The project is also proving controversial for other reasons, including heated criticism of the amount of public money that has been committed and proposed usage restrictions such as a ban on cycling. The 336m-long Garden Bridge will cross the River Thames between Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges to link Temple and the South Bank. The 6,000m2 pedestrian bridge will feature 2,500m2 of planting including 270 trees. Questions to be considered tomorrow will include: Did TfL’s tender documentation give bidders enough information to provide robust and comparable bids?    Did TfL consider clarifying and reissuing the specification to invite the three firms to submit revised bids?    How did Heatherwick Studios score more highly than the other bidders despite having less experience in bridge design and construction? The TfL audit published yesterday said no evidence had been found that would suggest that the final recommendations did not provide value for money from the winning bidders. Nor did the audit identify issues in areas including the selection of bidders and the procedures used by TfL to manage the project and contracts following award. It went on to say: "However, TfL’s role in the project was unclear from the outset and this was a strong factor in there not being an agreed procurement strategy in place. It is clear that the project would have benefited from a procurement strategy, although the reasons for not having one are understandable."

Construction contracts signed for Temburong Bridge

Two major construction contracts for Brunei's Temburong Bridge project were signed last week. The project as a whole will consist of a dual two-lane highway with a total length of approximately 30km between Jalan Utama Mentiri in the Brunei Muara District and Jalan Labu in Temburong. The construction involves six contract packages; the first package is ongoing and two were signed last week. A joint venture of Daelim Industrial and Swee Sendirian was awarded contract CC3 for the navigational cable-stayed bridges. Package CC4 for major viaduct works has gone to a joint venture of China State Construction Engineering Corporation and Ocean Quarry & Construction Sendirian. The CC3 contract covers the construction of two navigational cable-stay bridges between Kota Batu and Tanjung Kerasek. It is expected to be completed within 39 months, with work beginning on 1 October this year. The CC4 contract involves the construction of an 11.8km viaduct across the Temburong side from Tanjung Kerasek to Labu. Also included is the construction of a smaller bridge crossing Sungai Labu and junction works at Jalan Puni-Labu in Temburong. The contract is expected to be completed within 42 months, starting from 1 October. The government has said that the implementation of the first package of preliminary works for the project is running smoothly. This includes the casting yard and site management facilities in Serasa and importation of heavy machinery and equipment.

Shortlisted designs unveiled for Bath Quays Bridge

The six shortlisted designs for Bath Quays Bridge have been unveiled today. Bath & North East Somerset Council in the west of England is seeking to appoint a design team for what will be the first new crossing of the River Avon in the World Heritage city for over 100 years. The designs, which are currently anonymous, are led by AL_A, Flint & Neill, Grimshaw, Heneghan Peng, Marc Mimram and Price & Myers. Bath Quays Bridge will enable development of a quayside district, Bath Quays, linking it to the city centre. The winning design for the footbridge will be announced in November. Members of the public are being invited to comment on the designs, which are on display at the One Stop Shop on Manvers Street, Bath, until 25 September. A short summary of each can also be seen on the council website (link opens in new tab).

Michael Baker wins engineering role for historic bridge rebuild

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in the USA has appointed Michael Baker International to carry out the engineering design for the rehabilitation of Market Street Bridge in Harrisburg. The Market Street Bridge is a stone arch bridge that dates back to 1928 and is one of the oldest remaining bridges in Pennsylvania’s state capital. Michael Baker’s US$5 million engineering and design project is focused on the bridge’s western spans, which have not seen substantial improvements in more than 50 years. More than 12,000 vehicles use the bridge daily to get to and from Harrisburg and the area’s western suburbs. It serves as a direct link to the centre of the city, including the Pennsylvania State Capitol and key state office buildings. The bridge stretches the entire width of the Susquehanna River and is one of only four river crossings in the Harrisburg metropolitan area. Michael Baker will complete an in-depth inspection of the structure, develop preliminary rehabilitation plans, provide documentation for the environmental clearance process and produce final design plans for the reconstruction of 16 spans on the western side of the bridge. The design and engineering phase of the project is set for completion by 2020.

Saskatoon awards contract for Parkway and Traffic bridges

The Canadian city of Saskatoon has awarded Graham Commuter Partners a public-private partnership contract for the North Commuter Parkway Bridge and the new Traffic Bridge. A special meeting of the city council was held yesterday to approve the project and Graham Commuter Partners will now have 60 days to achieve financial close. The Graham Commuter Partners consortium is made up of ASL Paving, BBGI, Buckland & Taylor, Clifton, Gracorp Capital Partners, Graham Infrastructure, National Bank Financial and Tetra Tech. “This will be the city’s largest infrastructure project ever,” says Dan Willems, Saskatoon’s special projects manager with major projects. “We’ve gone through a very competitive procurement process and we thank each of our shortlisted proponents for their submissions.” Graham Commuter Parners beat two other teams - Bridge City Infrastructure Group (Aecon Concessions, Bank of Nova Scotia, CH2M Hill Canada, Flatiron Constructors Canada, Hatch Mott MacDonald, Hochtief PPP Solutions North America, P. Machibroda Engineering, Volker Stevin Highways) and Bridge City Partners (Acciona Concessions Canada, AECOM, DIF Infra 3 Canada,  Mainroad Holdings, Natixis, Pacer Projects Corp). The price proposal from Graham Commuter Partners is within the city’s approved budget for the project. A report will be brought back to the council in November outlining the financial details of the proposal. The estimated capital cost of the North Commuter Parkway is US$159.4 million, and the estimated cost to replace the Traffic Bridge is US$31 million.  The tender process had begun in July 2014 (link opens in new tab). Graham Commuter Partners will build the bridges based on technical requirements and project design parameters that have already been approved. It will finance and maintain both bridges for a period of 30 years, with the city retaining ownership of the bridges.The North Commuter Parkway Project includes a six-lane bridge and 9.3km of new arterial roads. The Traffic Bridge will accommodate all modes of transportation while retaining a similar look to the previous structure. The city decided in June to seek cost-savings by allowing bidders flexibility in the design (link opens in new tab). Some construction activities may begin as early as this autumn. The project is scheduled for substantial completion in October 2018.

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