Formal inquiry begins into South African bridge collapse

This week sees the start of an inquiry into the collapse of the Grayston Drive bridge in South Africa. The commission set up by the Department of Labour is hosting its first engagements with the parties involved. The first step is a briefing by key interested stakeholders. Murray & Roberts, Form Scaff and Royal Haskoning DHV will be given an opportunity to spell out their administrative report(s), highlighting the extent of their involvement in the project. No witnesses will be called at this stage. The commission was appointed by the department following the October 2015 collapse of the temporary bridge, which led to the deaths of two people and injury to 19 others (link opens in new tab).

Montreal announces plan to replace Jacques-Bizard Bridge

The Canadian city of Montreal has announced that it plans to spend US$70 million replacing the Jacques-Bizard Bridge in the district of de l'Île-Bizard–Sainte-Geneviève. A 40-year-old bridge that currently provides the only link between the islands of Montreal and Bizard has reached the end of its life. The investment is also intended to fund renovations to the existing bridge. Preliminary design work for the new structure is due for completion this summer with the aim of tendering the project in 2018.

Decision-time approaches for Helsinki’s Kruunusillat bridge project

The formal decision-making process is set to start this spring for a proposed major cable-stayed bridge in Helsinki, Finland. The Kruunusillat bridge design competition was won in 2013 by a team brought together by WSP Finland. WSP's Sami Niemelä and Pekka Pulkkinen are chief designers and Martin Knight is chief architect for the winning entry (link opens in new tab). The competition was intended to solicit ideas about what was feasible ahead of a decision being taken as to whether to build the bridge. Pre-planning work and cost evaluations are currently under way. The city council has in recent months agreed some wider changes that would be necessary for project to go ahead, including the closure of a local power station and alterations to public transport connections.  A public presentation by the project team next week will set out the proposed tram connections for the new crossing as well as further details about the scheme. The city is set to start the decision-making process shortly with a view to reaching a conclusion later this year. Construction could begin in late 2018.

Design work for Pennsylvania bridge resumes after seven-year break

Modjeski & Masters has been given the go-ahead to resume design work for a bridge in the USA that has been on hold since 2009. The new cable-stayed bridge will cross the Monongahela River as part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's expansion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway. Modjeski & Masters had previously completed the preliminary design work for the bridge before the project was put on hold in 2009. The firm had developed conceptual and preliminary designs for multiple truss, arch and cable-stayed bridge alternatives. Ultimately, a cable-stayed bridge design was found to be the most cost-competitive, durable and aesthetically pleasing choice. A cost-savings review of the corridor has since been carried out, including changes in the proposed road connections. The design will move into the next phase of the project assuming a single-tower cable-stayed structure, carrying two lanes of traffic in each direction. The initial design phase is set to be completed within 15 months, although a date for completion of final design and construction has yet to be determined.  “This project continues our legacy of designing cable-stayed bridges that make a positive impact of their surroundings,” said Michael Britt, senior vice president and director of business development at Modjeski & Masters. “Western Pennsylvania, especially the Pittsburgh area, is so reliant on dependable bridges. We recognise how important this bridge will be in reducing congestion, improving safety and stimulating social and economic development in the Monongahela River Valley.”

Florida university confirms details of planned footbridge

Florida International University (FIU) in the USA has confirmed the appointment of a design-build team of MCM and Figg Bridge Engineers for the 8th St pedestrian bridge and associated footpaths and plazas. MCM had announced in November that the team had won the contract. The appointment for the US$9.3 million project has now been officially confirmed by the university, which has published further pictures and details. “The pedestrian bridge along with inviting walkways, lighting and landscaping, will offer a safer transportation route for our students and visitors between the Modesto A Maidique Campus and the City of Sweetwater,” said Kenneth Jessell, FIU senior vice president for finance and administration and chief financial officer. The MCM-Figg bridge design includes a central support tower rising 33m above the road. Other features of the bridge include a lighting system designed by Randy Burkett that will illuminate it at night, a 9m-wide concrete canopy and enough width to allow for the comfortable passage of bikes and pedestrians as well as a space for special events and student seating. A 53m section of the overall 98m-long bridge will be prefabricated adjacent to Southwest 8th Street on the campus and then moved into position in a single night so as to minimise traffic disruption. FIU, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration approved the selection of the team. The City of Sweetwater and Miami-Dade Transit also participated in the selection process. The MCM-Figg partnership will now finalise the design of the pedestrian bridge and other streetscape elements. Groundbreaking will take place this spring; the project is expected to be completed by summer of 2018.

Feasibility study begins for Canada’s Sunshine Coast link

The government of British Columbia in Canada has awarded a contract for a study into the possibility of building a fixed highway link to serve the Sunshine Coast. RF Binnie & Associates will carry out the US$182,000 feasibility study, which will explore a number of potential connections ranging from a highway link around Jervis Inlet to direct bridge connections along the coast. The costs and benefits of each option will be assessed and will be compared with existing ferry services. “Connections between the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland have been limited by the region’s challenging geography, which is an impediment to trade and tourism in the region,” said transportation and infrastructure minister Todd Stone. “With this study, we’re taking a thorough look at the possibilities for a highway link to the Lower Mainland. It will build on previous work, and provide government with valuable, updated information on various options as they compare to the existing ferry service.” Vancouver-based civil engineering firm RF Binnie is due to present the government with its final report on the study in late autumn this year.

HGVs return to Forth Road Bridge as next phase of repairs continues

Some heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are to be allowed back onto Scotland’s Forth Road Bridge for the first time since a structural problem was found in early December. The bridge was closed to all traffic following the discovery of a fracture in a key load-bearing steel element. It reopened to buses and vehicles under 7.5 tonnes a few weeks later; the structural monitoring system shows that a limited number of HGVs can now be allowed to cross.  The phased reintroduction of HGVs is due to begin tonight, with up to 600 allowed to cross northbound in a five hour nightly period, subject to weather conditions. Relaxing the current HGV restrictions during the night is intended to help to mitigate the impact of the closure, without causing over stressing of the structure. Traffic signals will release HGVs on to the bridge at a rate of one every 30 seconds. The release rate has been calculated by engineers as the optimum to maximise the number of vehicles able to cross whilst minimising the impact on the structure. The structure will be monitored throughout the process to determine whether the number of HGVs being allowed to cross the bridge can be increased. Information from the bridge monitoring systems has shown that the second phase of the repair work to strengthen the bridge needs to be completed in full to the main span locations before the bridge can fully reopen to HGVs. Recent high winds have led to closures of the bridge to all traffic and have limited the opportunities to carry out the second phase of the repairs but the bridge is now scheduled to be fully reopened to HGVs with no restrictions by mid-March. Chartered engineer and Amey’s account director for the Forth Road Bridge, Mark Arndt, said: “During the recent storms, the bridge has been closed to traffic, at times, because wind speeds have been so high and it wouldn’t be safe to have people out working in those conditions. Our teams are working flat out to complete the work necessary to fully reopen the bridge but our timetable is highly dependent on the weather and our priority has to be on safety.” A video of Arndt talking about the repair work is in Bridgeweb's video section.

Demolition begins of old Sixth Street Viaduct

Demolition of the Sixth Street Viaduct in the US city of Los Angeles is getting under way this week to create space for its replacement. It will take nine months to remove the 84-year-old viaduct, whose concrete has suffered from alkali silica reaction. The new structure is due for completion in late 2019. A joint venture of Skanska and Stacy & Witbeck was appointed in 2013 as the construction manager/general contractor for the US$400m viaduct replacement project. This approach was chosen as it enabled the contracting team to working closely with the new structure’s designer, HNTB, which was appointed in 2012 (link opens in new tab). The new viaduct's concept is described as a ‘ribbon of arches’. It has been designed to refer to and amplify the style of the original.

Ferrovial lands $1.09bn Slovak highway with Danube bridge

A consortium headed by Ferrovial has been named as preferred bidder for a Slovak highway project that includes a major cable-stayed bridge over the River Danube. The scheme, which will create a ring road around Bratislava (D4) and a new radial road (R7), represents a total investment of US$1.09 billion. Ferrovial was chosen by the Slovakia Ministry of Transport for the contract to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the new roads. Other consortium members include Australian group Macquarie and Austrian construction company Porr. Ferrovial subsidiary Cintra will develop the project, while design and construction will be carried out by a joint venture headed by Ferrovial Agroman with Porr. Operation and maintenance will be handled by the concession company. A four-pylon cable-stayed structure has been chosen as the preferred solution for the River Danube bridge. The other options that were considered were cable-stayed bridges with two or three pylons, an extradosed bridge and a balanced cantilever structure. The new 27km D4 highway will have two lanes in each direction, creating a beltway to the east of the city and a connection with existing radial roads. The new 32km R7 radial highway will have two to three lanes each way, running in a south-easterly direction from the city centre.  The concession, which will be based on availability payments, will run for 34 years. Construction is expected to take four years and financial closure is expected in the second quarter of this year.

Major upgrade set to start at Patroon Island Bridge

The main construction phase is set to start on a US$146 million project to rehabilitate the Patroon Island Bridge in the US state of New York. The deck replacement project will be carried out while the bridge remains in use and most work will be carried out at night with lane closures in place. The construction contractors for the NY Works project are Halmar International and A Servidone-B Anthony Construction Corp JV. The bridge carries Interstate 90 over the Hudson River between Rensselaer and Albany. The project involves rehabilitating the Patroon Island Bridge and all the ramps comprising the I-90 interchange with I-787. Work will include replacing the bridge decks and bearings, steel repairs and repainting, as well as replacing or repairing the substructures of the interchange. Precast concrete deck panels will be used to speed construction. Preparatory work began last year and continued through the winter.  Four concrete piers supporting the ramps that make up interchange have already been demolished. Work to demolish the remaining piers and build new ones will continue through the summer and into the autumn, and work to install traffic monitoring systems is already under way.  Work to remove and replace the deck is expected to begin in late April in the eastbound direction. The project is expected to be completed this year.

Resent News

As part of a great Design/Build team Fine Tuned Structures project North Carolina Real Estate Property won the 2017 ICF Builder Magazine Award for best residential project in the World. We are proud for being a member of an award winning team.... Read more

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