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Projects

  • Building Bridges

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    Courtesy of H.J. O'Connell-Vancouver Pile Driving Joint VentureThe Sir Ambrose Shea lift bridge replacement is one of dozens of bridge projects on "The Rock"

    By Heather Hudson

    To everything there is a season, including bridges. Many of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador’s 1,134 bridge and culvert structures are at the end of their service life, having aged upwards of 50 years in some cases.

    As a result, Newfoundland is in the midst of an infrastructure makeover.

    The province’s 2013 budget allotted $866 million on infrastructure projects, including more than $32 million on bridge repair, rehabilitation and replacements.

    “Not unlike the rest of the country, we face the challenge of aging infrastructure,” said Department of Transportation and Works Minister Nick McGrath. “Through investments such as these, we will ensure that the bridge infrastructure is maintained at an acceptable standard in terms of safety and comfort for the people who use them.”

    In the past four years, the province has awarded contracts valued at $107 million for bridge replacement and rehabilitation projects.

    Eighteen bridge repair and replacement projects are being tendered in 2013-14, but none are more extensive than the $40.6-million contract to replace the Sir Ambrose Shea lift bridge in Placentia, N.F. The project also received $8 million in federal funding.

    The project combines the expertise and labour of designers and pile drivers from across the country.

    Designed by engineering, planning, management and technology firm Delcan, the construction was awarded to H.J. O’Connell Construction Ltd., which is completing the project jointly with Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd.

    Work began in May 2013 and is expected to be complete in the spring of 2016.

    A bridge well travelled
    The Sir Ambrose Shea lift bridge is the only one of its kind in Newfoundland and Labrador. A well-travelled thorough-fare, it connects the amalgamated town of Placentia, which is comprised of the communities of Placentia, Jerseyside, Freshwater and Dunville. The bridge is raised for vessels approximately 2,500 times a year, mostly to allow commercial fishing vessels to enter the sheltered harbour and dock.

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    Courtesy of Canadian Consulting EngineerIt was built in 1961 to replace a ferry service and had an anticipated 45-year life span. According to Delcan senior structural engineer Jack Ajrab, who worked on the design of the new bridge, the original three-span has held up well, but 50 years of harsh conditions have taken a toll.

    “It reached the point where maintaining it would cost as much as replacing it. In the 1950s and ’60s, bridges were designed for a lifespan of 50 years. Today, we design for 75 or 100 years, so we’re looking at more durability.”

    When designing the replacement, Delcan considered the basic functionality of the bridge. The three-span, steel girder bridge featured two towers, each with a visible machine room that housed all mechanical and electrical equipment at full height. Four counterweights in each of the towers were activated using mechanical components to lift the bridge when the counter weights went down. The basic mechanics and overall look of the new bridge will remain the same.

    “The new bridge is functionally similar to the original, in that the centre span lifts vertically. However, the new bridge shape with the four-tower design terminating with tubular member resembles the masts of the fishing boats, which will blend into the local fishing community,” said Ajrab.

    The superstructure’s tubular design is also expected to be easier to maintain, more durable and, with a good coating, will be impervious to rust for many years.

    Construction
    Once the design was finalized, crews from a joint venture between H.J. O’Connell Ltd. and Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. went to work mobilizing the site and demolishing existing boat buildings and houses. Two temporary trestles – one north, one south – were erected to access the centre piers and allow workers to maneuver a 150-ton crane to do the piling, concrete work and install the structural steel.

    The piling component is a huge part of the job and, with semidiurnal tides (two highs and two lows at the same height every day) to work around, it’s not without its challenges.

    “The tide goes out at a rate of up to eight knots, stays slack for about 30 minutes and then comes back at eight knots,” explained Clancy Lannon, project manager for Vancouver Pile Ltd.

    “We do certain things on the slack tide, like placing riprap when the tide stops going out and before it comes in. And we stage work, such as sheet pile installation around the tides. When the tide is going out, you work in that direction and vice versa. It’s very challenging, but that’s how marine construction is.”

    A bigger – and less anticipated – issue has been high winds. The construction is crane-dependent for virtually everything done on the site.

    “We have to boom down if winds are above 70 kph, which has happened quite a few times,” said Lannon. “In fact, this has been one of the worst winters for wind in memory.”

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    Photos.comThe abutments and piers are founded on pipe piles driven to a depth of about 30 metres. Lannon explains the process:

    “Steel sheet pile cofferdams are installed at each location. Pipe piles are driven inside the cofferdam to the design depth. We then place concrete under water using the tremie method. The thickness of the tremied concrete seal varies from 3.9 metres on the South Pier to 6.9 metres on the North Pier. Then the cofferdams are dewatered, pilings are cut off and filled with concrete, the footing is poured and the bridge shafts installed, at which point it’s ready for structural steel.”

    In the tender, Delcan offered two design choices when it came to driving piles: a shallow foundation system with massive concrete footing on the ocean floor, which would include excavation and putting piers on competent soils, or driving piles to reach the competent layer and getting supported there.

    Lannon says there was no question that the latter option would be more practical and economically feasible despite the soil that featured less than ideal piling conditions.

    “I grew up in this area and they don’t call it the Rock for nothing. However, on this site, the Department of Transportation and Works drilled down 70 metres and the soil got looser with depth, so driving the piles upwards of 20 to 30 metres worked. Pile driving analysis is done on selected piles to make sure they have the capacity to support the design loads.”

    Another Delcan design choice concerned the structure: a conventional steel girder design or concrete precast boxes beside girders. Lannon says that one came down to a commercial decision: the steel girder design was considerably cheaper to build.

    On task
    With a crew of about 15 working on the piling, as of February 2014 the south abutment cofferdam and piles were in place and the south pier and abutment was expected to be complete before spring. The north side construction is under way.

    Once the civil work is complete in the spring, the structural steel will be put into place and the mechanical and electrical portions of the bridge will begin. A concrete control house will also be erected for bridge operators to use in daily operations.

    “The landscape will look much like it is right now. There will be some scour protection in place around the abutments and the north side will have a steel sheet pile sea wall replacing the wooden crib wall, but otherwise there won’t be much difference. However, I think the new bridge will be more aesthetically pleasing.”

    Lannon says the new bridge will be complete in 2015 and the old bridge tear down will be finished in 2016.

    With multiple other bridge projects happening across the province, one thing is for sure: getting around is going to be a lot smoother in the years ahead.

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  • Building From The Top Down

    Bridges normally aren’t constructed this way, but thanks to cutting edge technology developed in part by a Canadian company, that’s exactly what’s happening in Cartagena, Colombia

    By Mark Halsall

     

    Building a bridge from the top down isn’t the usual way to do it. But when bridge builders faced the daunting prospect of having to span five kilometres of swampland during a highway upgrade project in Cartagena, Colombia, it was determined that top-down construction made the most sense.

  • Challenge Accepted

    Bermingham takes on a dynamic project to show what they can do

    By Kelly Gray

    One of Canada’s oldest foundation specialists is helping Parks Canada turn the page on troubles with its historic Trent Severn Waterway. 

    When the Canadian federal government needed to repair Dam #37 at Bolsover near Lake Simcoe, they turned to Bermingham Foundation Solutions for the initial stages that would allow for the demolition of the dam and reconstruction. Working with general contractor Metric Contracting, shoring designer Isherwood Geostructural Engineers, contract administrator EXP and Public Works Canada, Bermingham crews would have to dewater the area immediately adjacent to the existing lock and dam and pro- vide a temporary diversion. This is all in a day’s work for a company that has been putting Canada on solid ground since 1897.

    The Trent Severn Waterway is a hard-won piece of Canadian history with politicians and business interests fighting it out section by section. Joining Lake Huron with Lake Ontario, the 386-kilometre canal system was started in the early part of the 19th century and slowly completed over 100 years, at which time it was quickly made redundant by the completion of the larger Welland Canal. Today, the system is operated by Parks Canada as a tourist destination that brings boat traffic to cottage country through the locks between May and October. Last year, there was close to 100,000 lock operations. [VIEW PHOTO GALLERY]

  • Crum Creek Viaduct Replacement

    ECA provides innovative equipment solutions for Walsh Construction

    By Brian M. Fraley, Fraley AEC Solutions, LLC

    A BAUER BG 18 H rotary drilling rig sits wedged between an earthen embankment, a shotcrete-covered bridge abutment, a maze of rusty steel trestles and the underside of a historic railroad viaduct in Swarthmore, Pa. The rig, working in a low overhead configuration, was supported by a

    BAUER BG 20 H, both of which prime contractor Walsh Construction of Chicago rented from the nearby Aldan, Pa. office of Equipment Corporation of America (ECA).

  • Drilling Deep: Leaside Station

    Deep Foundations Contractors recently drilled one of the deepest large-diameter caissons ever installed in Ontario for the Crosstown Light Rail Transit Project

    By Lisa Kopochinski

    Toronto-based Deep Foundations Contractors has received prestigious awards since its founding in 1971, from the local Toronto Construction Association to the Canadian Construction Association and the International Association of Foundation Drilling. The company can now add another achievement to its long list of accolades.

  • Emergency Access

    Formula Contractors stepped in to construct an emergency bridge when a rainstorm washed out an important thoroughfare

    By Heather Hudson

    When Mother Nature rages, Formula Contractors gets to work.

    British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation called on the Prince George, B.C.-based company, which specializes in innovative construction solutions for bridges, structures, foundations, civil construction, rental bridges and more, to restore access to a road after a massive weather event.

    It was their expertise in bridge construction that landed them the recent emergency job building a temporary bridge on pile foundations in British Columbia’s Peace Region in June. An early summer rainstorm caused flooding, completely washing out twin culverts on Rolla Road, a well-travelled thoroughfare connecting two main highways.

  • Fountain Slide Design-Build Track Mitigation Project

    AGRA Foundations Limited plays a critical role in stabilizing a railway bed near Lillooet, B.C.

    By Mark Halsall

    Situated in the rugged Fraser River Canyon about 15 km east of Lillooet, B.C., the Fountain Slide is part of an ancient earth ow that’s causing a mountainside to creep slowly but inexorably downwards. A Canadian National (CN) Railway line and as well as B.C.’s Highway 99 run right through this active slide area, and as one might imagine it’s had a substantial impact on both.

  • Go Big or Go Home

    A challenging CFA jobsite for Keller Foundations in Canada

    By Celete Wilson

     

    What is the definition of a challenging jobsite? Some features of the Aurum Road project certainly make it a contender.

  • Ground Control

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    Keller Foundations’ role in Toronto’s new underground transformer station

    By Jim Chliboyko

    When the construction of Toronto’s new downtown transformer station was announced, what was arguably the most amazing thing was the news that it was to be the city’s first downtown transformer station built since 1955. The power being routed through the new transformer station will not only supply Toronto’s financial district, but will give the existing infrastructure a bit of a break and an opportunity to get some maintenance done on the rapidly aging Windsor Transformer Station, a half-kilometre to the north.

    Toronto Hydro’s estimated $195-million new station – located by the John Street CPR Roundhouse, a block or so away from both the CN Tower and Rogers Centre (the SkyDome) – is seen as the next step in strengthening the city’s electrical infrastructure. The company points out on its website that the population of the downtown area increased by 50 per cent in one five-year period alone (2006 to 2011), adding to increased electrical demand, and adding to the pressure on the Windsor station. The new station will add 144 MVA of capacity.

    Occasionally, the transformer station is still referred to as the Bremner Transformer Station, though it’s recently been renamed the Clare R. Copeland Transformer Station (after a former chair of the Toronto Hydro board, who only just left the position in 2013 after 14 years as chairman). The area in question is at the southwestern corner of Rees and Lakeshore. It’s actually part of Toronto’s municipal parks system, known as Roundhouse Park, and the Roundhouse itself is considered a National Historic Site of Canada.

  • High Productivity Pile Driving

    New equipment helps Alva Construction drastically cut time to complete project component

    By Kim Biggar

    As part of a project to replace a deteriorated wharf at the Little Dover small-craft harbour in Guysborough County, N.S., Alva Construction was required to install 272 fender piles. This work was undertaken upon completion of construction of a new hybrid cribwork and timber pile fishing wharf with a cast-in-place concrete deck, as one of the final components

  • Into the Arctic

    Battling Arctic temperatures, 24-hour darkness and shipping delays, the Ruskin team constructed an iron ore loading dock with great precision

    By Lisa Kopochinski

     

    Ruskin Construction is currently completing work on an iron ore dock at Canada's northernmost producing mine – the Mary River site on the northern end of Baffin Island – for Baffinland Iron Mines Corporation.

    This is quite a feat since this remote location is 500 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, and has an average winter temperature of -30 degrees Celsius with several months of 24-hour darkness.

  • New Solutions To Old Problems

    The experience and expertise of Bermingham Foundation Solutions meet the challenge of the historic Desjardins Canal

    By Deb Smith

    Bermingham Foundation Solutions has been putting down roots in Canadian history since its first contract in 1897 to build the CPR track bed through the Rocky Mountains at the Crowsnest Pass in British Columbia. Today, almost 120 years later, the company continues to play a strong role in developing Canada’s infrastructure as an experienced foundation contractor, equipment manufacturer and leader in research and innovation.

    When Dufferin Construction Company recently took on the job to widen the CNRail Bridge across the Desjardins Canal as part of expansion of the GO Transit service into the city of Hamilton, they looked to Bermingham to handle the foundations. The new addition to the bridge meant working in a very tight and difficult location along the east side of bulky stone foundations that had been laid down a century-and-a-half earlier.

  • On the Ice

    Building a water intake structure on a remote Alberta river during winter provided some interesting challenges for construction crews from Formula Contractors Ltd.

    By Mark Halsall

    Deep foundation work, when it’s done in isolated northern locations in the deepest cold of harsh Canadian winters, can be an ordeal. Sometimes, though, it can be even more challenging when the weather isn’t cold enough.

    That was the case for the Little Smokey River Water Intake Project near Fox Lake, Alta.

  • PA Turnpike/I-95 Interchange Project

    PDF-Mark III and ECA work together for a big payoff

    By Brian M. Fraley, Fraley Construction Marketing

    An RTG RM 20 pile driving rig hammers battered piles in the shadows of a Pennsylvania Turnpike bridge abutment on a narrow strip of land between an embankment and a roadway in October 2016. Upon driving an H-pile to refusal, the operator deftly executes a 180-degree turn within a con ned space and crawls a short distance to retrieve the next H-pile. A worker from PKF-Mark III hooks it up, the rig lures and secures it and then travels back to the work site. The mechanical process repeats itself over and over, indicating that serious productivity is afoot.

  • Panama Canal Expansion

    By Richard Armstrong
    This article was originally published by Pile Buck magazine.

    The Panama Canal was first opened in 1914 as a bridge between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. By allowing ships to skip the long, treacherous trip rounding Cape Horn, it cut shipping times down exponentially. But a century later, much has changed in both shipping and canal construction. As it was originally built, the canal isn’t big enough to take many of today’s vessels. To stay viable amid tight competition from quicker and cheaper alternative routes, the canal has been undergoing a major upgrade since 2007. The Panama Canal Expansion project will take eight years and cost over $5 billion before it is completed in 2015. As of April 2014, the project is 79 per cent complete, though due to delays there are concerns it won’t be finished until 2016.

    The project aims to improve the canal in a number of ways. The navigation channels will be dredged on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides, as will the channels in Culebra Cut and Gatun Lake. This will enable the canal to accommodate vessels with deeper drafts than it can presently take. New, larger Post-Panamax locks will be built on both entrances to the canal. These are the so-called “Third Set of Locks.” A completely new channel will be excavated on the Pacific side, north of the Third Set of Locks, which will connect the new locks to Culebra Cut and Gatun Lake. And finally, the canal’s water supply and draft dependability is going to be increased.

     

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  • Pier Modification for Highway Bridge

    HEADQUARTERED IN CALGARY, MASTEC HAS COMPLETED PROJECTS BEYOND WESTERN CANADA IN NEWFOUNDLAND, NOVA SCOTIA AND MANITOBA, AS WELL AS SOUTH OF THE BORDER IN NORTH DAKOTA AND WYOMING

    By Lisa Kopochinski

     

    MasTec Canada may be a relatively young company, – having formed in early 2017 through the merger of six construction companies in Western Canada – but it’s already boasting an impressive array of projects in the industrial, institutional and commercial sectors across the country.

  • Piling in a Protected Park

    Cyntech Canada uses a specialized technique in Banff National Park

    By Jon Waldman

     

    Working in the piling industry, a company can be faced with a number of projects that are unique. While each job has its own dynamics, there are some that stand out as being different from the “norm” that one might see in a downtown Canadian city or in rural centres across our country.

  • Port of Oshawa East Wharf Consolidation Project

    Allowing the port to handle more cargo, create new business opportunities and jobs

    By Lisa Kopochinski 

     

    After several years of extensive revitalization, the Port of Oshawa is maintaining its spot as the city’s shining star.

    Work has completed on the east wharf consolidation and rail spur projects – both which will provide an additional berth for ships and allow the port to handle more cargo, create new business opportunities and jobs.

  • Power from Piling

    Cyntech and Keller contribute to the Western Alberta Transmission Line 

    By Jon Waldman

    The Western Alberta Transmission Line (WATL) was one of the highest impact projects in the Canadian market in the last number of years, and Cyntech Canada was among the companies proud to be part of this monumental effort. 

    As outlined by the Alberta Electric System Operator, there was a stark need for increased electrical supply in the province. As stated by the Operator in a project overview, “Increased demand for electricity in southern and central Alberta is stressing the existing 240 kV system and transmission reinforcement between the Edmonton and Calgary area is required,” and that a pair of high voltage direct current lines were going to be required to maximize efficiency and accommodate long-term growth.

    Though the planning and approval process began in 2010, it took until the winter of 2013 for the project to commence. On board for the project were AltaLink and SNC-Lavalin. SNC then brought Cyntech on board for the project’s south and central portions’ foundation work. As Brandon Hindbo, operations manager at Cyntech Canada, says, the two companies had worked together previously on global oil and gas projects, but this would be the first time the two sides collaborated through the former’s Transmission and Distribution division.

  • Powering the Future

    Photo Courtesy of Manitoba HydroFive thousand piles set Manitoba's Keewatinohk converter station on solid foundations

    By Lily Slain 

    It’s been about 2,000 years since the Romans ruled the earth, but their magnificent aqueducts can still be found across Europe; a few are even still in use. If the modern world has a comparable achievement, it might be our hydro corridors.

    The Romans were transporting water across great distances; now we harness the power of water to create electricity that is transported over hundreds of kilometres. The Romans themselves would have admired contemporary projects like Bipole III, currently underway in Manitoba. It’s one of the largest projects of its kind in North America and one of the biggest capital projects that Manitoba Hydro, the province’s energy utility, has ever undertaken.

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.