Emergency Bridge Repairs at Bonner Bridge (News Note)

Bonner BridgeThe North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has shut down Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks this week due to emergency safety concerns.  The life safety issues were discovered after routine sonar scanning identified excessive scouring (i.e., sand erosion) on the support structures of the bridge.

The bridge, erected in 1963, is the only road over Oregon Inlet, so the NCDOT is providing extended ferry service during the bridge repairs, which could take as long as 90 days.

The Bonner Bridge has been slated for replacement for several years following damage from Hurricane Irene, but legal challenges from environmental groups as to the location of the replacement have prevented DOT from breaking ground on a $215.8 million repair contract.

As of midday on Friday, December 6th, NCDOT engineers report the following:

· The dredge is on location and the anchors are set.

·  The crew has been developing ideas on alternate discharge pattern/configurations etc.

·  The Army Corps of Engineers 404 & DENR Water Quality Permits are issued.

·  Permit modification for enlarged discharge area to allow flexibility in using the tides & attack angles to assist in filling scour holes has just been issued.

To follow the dredging and emergency repair efforts, go to the NCDOT website and Facebook pages.

To read the positions and concerns of the environmental groups related to the bridge replacement, go to the Southern Environmental Law Center’s webpage.

Your turn:  Now that the bridge is back in the news, what is your opinion as to where the replacement bridge should be located?  Do the environmental groups’ contentions have merit?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo (c) Smkybear.

How is that possible? State Law variations can snag you! (law note)

Today I’m guest posting over on Construction Law Musings.  My post, entitled “You Mean They Can Do That?” discusses the fact that there are different legal hurdles that can present challenges to your Architecture or Engineering Firm when you venture across state lines.

skatesAs I state in the post, just as licensing issues and building codes differ, so too do the laws.  Your best defense?  A good offense. Get help specifically tailored to the new state up front so you won’t get pinched later on.   In other words, don’t be a cheapskate!

Read the full post here.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions?  Share in the comments below.

Photo (c) Jan Andersen

 

Infrastructure Defects: ASCE’s Report Card (Spoiler: America gets a D+) (news note)

How many bridges do you drive over on your way to work each day?  Probably a bunch, if you have the typical commute of 32 round trip miles per day.  Now, how many of them are *not* structurally sound?  Probably more than you realize.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has just released its American Infrastructure Report Card.  Overall, the nation scored a miserable overall D+. Here’s the breakdown for the Transportation categories:

        Aviation        D
        Bridges        C+
        Inland Waterways        D-
        Ports        C
        Rail        C+
        Roads        D
        Transit        D

    In the breakout for North Carolina,

  • 2,192 of the 18,165 (12.1%) bridges in North Carolina are considered structurally deficient.
  • 3,296 of the 18,165 (18.1%) bridges in North Carolina are considered functionally obsolete.

The report has a ton of interactive information, including a nation-wide county by county deficient bridges look up, identifying infrastructure defects in detail.  Currently, much of the planned infrastructure improvements is in limbo while the sequester is in effect.  However, our nation’s system of deficient bridges must be a priority.  Will it take another event similar to Minnesota’s I-35 bridge collapse before we fix our nation’s infrastructure?  Let’s hope not.

Your turn.  What are your thoughts about the current infrastructure of America’s roads and bridges?

Engineering for the Earthquake- Dumbarton Bridge (News Note)

Engineers who design in earthquake-prone areas know that they need to design the seismic loads of their bridges to account for potential massive shifts during a quake.  (This is what is legally known as the professional standard of care, which takes into account what similar engineers, in the same conditions and community, would consider acceptable design)**.  The Dumbarton Bridge, the farthest south bridge across the San Francisco Bay, is no exception to this rule.

Currently, the Dumbarton Bridge is being renovated as part of the San Francisco Bay Area Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program.  When the bridge is finished (expected in early 2013), the bridge will increase its ability to move from 20 inches of lateral movement to as much as 42 inches of lateral movement.

Dumbarton BridgeThe retrofit includes friction pendulum bearings designed by Earthquake Protection  Systems, Inc., which will isolate the superstructure from two pier structures where the main span of the bridge meets the approach structures.  A concrete taper will be used from the joints to the main span to ease the transition, as the approach span is 5 inches lower than the main span.

According to Earthquake Protection Systems president Victor Zayas, in a statement to Roads & Bridges magazine, the most critical part of the bearing is the bottom lining, which is a self-sacrificing, solid-lubricant polymer composite that was developed based on earlier research done by NASA in the 1960s.

Click here to read more on the Dumbarton Bridge retrofit.

**  If you missed my post on the jury instruction on standard of care, be sure to check it out here.

 

Photo (c) Jill Clardy via CC.

 

Funny Friday (Jokes for Engineers & the folks who love ‘em!)

Engineer = good with mathIn an effort to send you off for the weekend in “jolly good spirits,” as my new British sister in law might say, I give you a few engineering jokes, courtesy of the Funny Junk site.  Bonus: there is a lawyer joke contained in this post as well.  Enjoy!
 
The Design of the Human Body

Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body.

One said, “It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints.”

Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous systems many thousands of electrical connections.”

The last said, “Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”

_______________________

Engineer In Hell
An engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his dossier and says, “Ah, you’re an engineer — you’re in the wrong place.”

So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements. After a while, they’ve got air conditioning, flush toilets, and escalators, which makes the engineer a pretty popular guy.

One day God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, “So, how’s it going down there in hell?”

Satan replies, “Hey, things are going great. We’ve got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there’s no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.”

God replies, “What??? You’ve got an engineer? That’s a mistake — he should never have gotten down there; send him up here.”

Satan says, “No way. I like having an engineer on the staff, and I’m keeping him.”

God says, “Send him back up here or I’ll sue.”

Satan laughs uproariously and answers, “Yeah, right. And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?” 

_______________________

The Engineer and the Red Rubber Ball

A mathmatician, a physicist, and an engineer were all given a red rubber ball and told to find the volume.

The mathmatician carefully measured the diameter and evaluated a triple integral.

The physicist filled a beaker with water, put the ball in the water, and measured the total displacement.

The engineer looked up the model and serial numbers in his red-rubber-ball table. 

_______________________

Ba dum dum!  This concludes our programming day.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

 

 

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