UC team leading bridge testing in ChCh
15 February 2013
University of Canterbury postgraduate engineering students are working on new solutions to help improve the seismic performance of Christchurch’s damaged bridge columns and accelerate the recovery of bridges in the rebuild.
Generally, bridge columns, cap beams and footings are constructed using cast-in-place concrete. This method has been adopted as standard practice in the construction of bridge substructures worldwide.
But fresh research at UC, led by PhD candidate Mustafa Mashal and masters student Sam White, is looking at ways of increasing bridge construction speed, quality and performance through the use of precast concrete. See the link below to view UC bridge testing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIn6ZNLnpuU
The accelerated construction methods aim to reduce disruption and improve performance when replacing damaged bridges around Christchurch, and for building new infrastructure in seismically active regions. As part of the UC research, experimental testing is being undertaken to compare the performance of precast bridge substructures with cast-in-place substructures.
Testing of two seven tonne columns has begun with promising results. The tests are part of a four-year UC research project, ABCD – Advance Bridge Construction and Design, funded by the Natural Hazard Research Platform and led by Dr Alessandro Palermo, senior engineering lecturer at UC.
The Opus bridge team and several Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild team (SCIRT) bridge designers assisted at the testing and they were favourably impressed. Further testing will be carried out over the coming weeks.
Opus principal bridge engineer Michael Cowan said the works being conducted by UC is relevant at a time when bridge engineers are looking at ways to improve the efficiency of bridge construction as well as enhance the resilience of new infrastructure.
"This testing is an important step towards a better understanding of how to achieve reliable methods for accelerated bridge construction and incorporating a low damage systems approach into design."
The earthquakes imparted key lessons with a number of bridges totally or partially losing their functionality causing significant traffic disruption. SCIRT estimated about 40 percent of the bridge stock needs to be repaired and a few bridges will be replaced.
Dr Palermo said life safety was the primary objective of the engineering community but they are also aiming to limit business disruption after major events.
"The Christchurch rebuild can be the real driver for using new seismic design technologies available from the UC bridge programme.
"Building designers are already moving towards low-damage system technology for both structural and non-structural components. Bridge engineers have to inherit those enhanced concepts and technologies.
"We want to find technical solutions for bridges which are quick to construct and erect on the site; that are resistant to earthquakes and with higher material quality control and more importantly that are cost-competitive," Dr Palermo said.
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