Alaska drops plan for Gravina bridge

An improved ferry service has been chosen in place of a new bridge to improve transport access to Gravina Island in the US state of Alaska. The bridge had been under discussion for many years and estimates had put the potential cost at US$398 million. Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities has now announced to Ketchikan Gateway Borough and City of Ketchikan officials that it will recommend ‘Gravina Access Project Alternative G4v’ as the state’s preferred alternative. The recommendation will be made to the USA's Federal Highway Administration. Alternative G4v will improve existing ferry facilities for airport travellers and the movement of heavy freight. The estimated construction cost for the preferred alternative is US$23 million. Funding that had been previously set aside for the Gravina Access Project will be used to finance construction and related activities.

Preparations begin for Walterdale Bridge arch installation

A month-long river closure begins today in Edmonton, Canada, to allow preparations for two 950t steel arches to be floated into place. The North Saskatchewan River near the Walterdale Bridge construction site is being closed to river traffic while the contractor prepares equipment, performs a test manoeuvre and then float the arches so that they span the north and south banks of the river. Acciona/Pacer Joint Venture was awarded the primary bridge construction contract in 2013. The US$118 million bridge was originally due to open this year, but late delivery of the steel has pushed back the completion (link opens in new tab). The project is now due to open to traffic by late 2016, with demolition of the existing bridge taking place in 2017.

Saskatoon bridge project reaches financial close

Graham Commuter Partners has reached financial close for the North Commuter Parkway and Traffic Bridge project in the city of Saskatoon, Canada. The team is made up of ASL Paving, BBGI, Buckland & Taylor, Clifton, Gracorp Capital Partners, Graham Infrastructure, National Bank Financial and Tetra Tech. It will build the bridges and roads based on the city’s approved project requirements and will also finance and maintain the new infrastructure for a period of 30 years, with the city retaining ownership. The contract award had been announced last month and Graham Communter Partners had been given 60 days to achieve financial close (link opens in new tab). “This was a very competitive procurement process and we thank each of the three proponents for their submissions,” said Dan Willems, the city’s special projects manager. The North Commuter Parkway Project includes a six-lane bridge and 8.3km of new arterial roads to link the Marquis Industrial area with the University Heights area. The Traffic Bridge will accommodate all modes of transportation while retaining a similar architecture to the previous structure.  Through the P3 Canada Fund, the federal government is providing an investment of up to US$50 million to the project, while the province of Saskatchewan will contribute US$38 million.

Four contractors fined after passers-by killed during bridge demolition

The USA’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has fined four contractors for workplace safety hazards on a bridge project where there was a fatal accident last April. Part of the structure being demolished fell onto traffic below, killing Josh and Vanessa Ellis and their eight-month-old son, Hudson, when their vehicle passed under the overpass in Bonney Lake, Washington. L&I has jurisdiction over worker safety, which is what the agency investigation focused on. WHH Nisqually Federal Services, of Tacoma, was the general contractor for pedestrian improvements on the SR 410 overpass. WHH Nisqually appointed HighMark Concrete Contractors of Buckley to do the concrete work. HighMark Concrete had a contract with Staton Companies of Eugene, Oregon, to remove a portion of the existing bridge. Staton hired Hamilton Construction of Springfield, Oregon, to cut the concrete barrier. All four companies had workers on site. "Demolition is one of the most hazardous operations in construction," said Anne Soiza, assistant director for the L&I Division of Occupational Safety & Health. "Preparing and following a specific safety plan that anticipates the worst case conditions is critical. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen in this case." Staton was fined US$58,800 for one ‘willful’ and two ‘serious’ violations for exposing workers to danger while demolishing the concrete barrier on the overpass. Staton oversaw the cutting of the concrete barrier by its subcontractor, but failed to provide a demolition plan to the subcontractor. The investigation found that Staton had concerns about the possibility of the barrier falling down during cutting, yet still continued with the work. Staton was cited for a willful violation for not ensuring a workplace free from recognised hazards. The company demolished the concrete barrier without following procedures in the demolition plan it developed. It was also cited for a serious violation for exposing workers on a lower level to the possibility of an unplanned collapse, and another serious violation for not ensuring the concrete barrier was secured or braced to prevent collapse during cutting. Hamilton Construction was fined US$14,700 for three serious violations for exposing workers to essentially the same hazards as Staton Companies. However, none of the violations was found to be willful. WHH Nisqually was fined US$8,400 for two serious violations for not ensuring a workplace free from recognised hazards and for exposing workers on the lower level to the possibility of an unplanned collapse. Highmark Concrete Contractors was fined US$4,900 for one serious violation, also for not ensuring a workplace free from recognised hazards. The employers have 15 business days from receipt of the citation to appeal.

Historic Shanghai bridge returns to site after restoration

A 107-year-old bridge in Shanghai, China, has been lifted back into place after being taken away for renovation. Zhejiang Road Bridge was returned to its position over Suzhou Creek in a 10-hour operation on Sunday. The bridge had been removed from its foundations four and a half months ago for renovation and has now been restored to its original appearance. The 420t superstructure was moved out of a workshop about 100m from the creek to the riverbank on Saturday prior to its final journey. Despite some unexpected difficulties, the project was finished a month ahead of schedule. “Many parts of the bridge proved to be in a worse condition than previously thought, so we put in more engineers and equipment to ensure that the bridge would be working again by the end of the year,” said project manager Qian Cheng of the Shanghai Municipal Engineering Design Institute. Despite having to replace and repaint rusted components, engineers managed to return the bridge to its original design based on files from the early 1900s. “Basically we gave birth to the bridge again using contemporary technologies,” said Shang Guoping, vice director of the city road administration’s road construction division. He said the rivets in the structure were retained although the use of rivets in steel construction has long given way to high-strength bolts and welding. “While back then they had to use furnaces and hammers in riveting, we used electricity to heat up the rivets and electric appliances to drive them into the structure to make the process more reliable,” Shang said. Some details in the look of the bridge were also corrected to match old pictures, as maintenance over the past few decades had erased some distinctive features, including arched structures at both ends of the bridge. The bridge is now some 200t lighter with the removal, among other things, of heavy concrete trusses, and the structure is expected to have a working life of at least another 50 years.

First new deck panel installed in Macdonald Bridge’s ‘Big Lift’

The Macdonald Bridge in Nova Scotia, Canada, was closed over the weekend for replacement of the first deck segment in the ‘Big Lift’ redecking project. The project involves complete replacement of the suspended spans of the bridge while keeping the crossing open to traffic. This week’s operation replaced a segment on the Dartmouth side of the bridge. The original deck segment was cut out and lowered onto a barge and then its replacement, weighing about 100t, was raised into position. A further 45 segments are due to replaced. Owner Halifax Harbour Bridges said that the Big Lift project aims to extend the life of the 60-year-old bridge and reduce maintenance. Work includes replacing the road deck, floor beams, stiffening trusses and suspender ropes on the suspended spans.  The first time such an operation was carried out was on the Lions Gate Bridge about a decade ago. The Lions Gate Bridge is the sister bridge to the Macdonald Bridge, also designed by PL Pratley. HHB is working with the same bridge engineering firm, Buckland & Taylor, that worked on the Lions Gate redecking project. Once the 46 deck segments are replaced, the shipping clearance will be raised by approximately 2.1m. The hangers on the bridge will be replaced and at that time the bridge will be raised in increments.

Johannesburg bridge collapse kills two

Engineers working for the city of Johannesburg in South Africa suspect that 'a gust of wind in the area' led to a fatal bridge collapse. However, contractor Murray & Roberts put out a statement confirming that the cause has not yet been determined. Its senior directors had attended the scene, assisting the city and emergency services. "The company’s immediate priority is to ensure those involved are taken care of," it said. The bridge support structure collapsed onto the M1 motorway. The structure had been erected to enable the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the road. Two people were initially confirmed to have died, with three others trapped. A third death was later reported, but the Department of Labour confirmed on 28 October that two had died in the accident, with three still remaining in critical condition. The city has published pictures on Twitter of the aftermath.

Johannesburg bridge collapse kills three

Engineers working for the city of Johannesburg in South Africa suspect that 'a gust of wind in the area' led to a fatal bridge collapse. However, contractor Murray & Roberts put out a statement confirming that the cause has not yet been determined. Its senior directors had attended the scene, assisting the city and emergency services. "The company’s immediate priority is to ensure those involved are taken care of," it said. The bridge support structure collapsed onto the M1 motorway. The structure had been erected to enable the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the road. Two people were initially confirmed to have died, with three others trapped. A third death was reported later. The city has published pictures on Twitter of the aftermath.

Bidding opens for Golden Gate Bridge suicide net

A request for proposals (RFP) has been launched for construction of a suicide deterrent on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA. “We have been in the planning and design phase of the project for several years, with a lot of work happening behind the scenes,” said Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District chief engineer Ewa Bauer. “Today signals a change to the construction phase. We are all eager to put this deterrent in place and diminish future tragedy from suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.” The suicide deterrent project is expected to cost at least US$76 million and take several years to install. The design is for a stainless steel net along the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, on both sides. The cantilevered net will be located about 6m down from the bridge footpath, extending out 6m, with a slight upturn at the outside edge. Anyone jumping into the net is likely to experience the sort of significant injury expected from falling two storeys onto a steel platform. The district found that such nets have been very successful in preventing suicide attempts elsewhere. Images courtesy of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District  Details of the RFP may be found at: http://goldengate.org/contracts/documents/2016-b-01-notice.pdf. 

Mott MacDonald wins checking role for Swan River bridge

Rizzani De Eccher joint venture has appointed Mott MacDonald for design verification of a new pedestrian bridge over the Swan River in Perth, Australia. Mott MacDonald will check the design of the structural, waterway and drainage elements the US$39.8 million steel footbridge, which will connect East Perth with the new Perth Stadium at Burswood. The new bridge's undulating design was unveiled in June (link opens in new tab). The bridge will comprise three bow string arches, the largest standing 65m tall. It will be 400m long, with a central span of 165m. It is expected that 700 tonnes of steel and 1.5km of cables will be used during its construction. The footbridge will be completed in early 2017.

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