Beyond Traditional Surveys: Caltech’s Cutting-edge Methods to Combat Bridge Erosion
Our client embarked on a geotechnical investigation project with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to address the erosion issues impacting the bridges that crossed two rivers in Saskatchewan. The project aimed to investigate the erosion concerns arising from the interaction of the two bridges with the river flow. The challenges identified were as follows:
West Bridge Erosion: The west bridge experienced noticeable erosion, specifically in the shear key area, resulting from the intense spring runoff. This erosion had washed out portions of the bridge, causing abnormal erosion patterns. The compromised structural integrity of the bridge raised concerns regarding its stability and long-term viability.
East Bridge Erosion: Despite being newly constructed, the east bridge also encountered erosion issues. The erosion resulted in the exposure of a pipe due to the entire bank being washed out. The high-water levels and associated erosion posed a risk of bridge instability, demanding urgent investigation and remedial measures.
Navigating these challenges was crucial to ensure the bridges’ safety, integrity, and longevity. Our client diligently sought effective solutions to mitigate erosion concerns and safeguard the stability of the infrastructure. Additionally, they captured an analysis of the proper water drainage to prevent future flooding.
Caltech provided comprehensive solutions to address the erosion challenges faced by our client for their bridge project. Our team implemented a series of actions encompassing specialized data collection, accessing difficult areas, dealing with tough terrain, and innovative survey methods.
Specialized Data Collection: Caltech utilized innovative geospatial methods. They employed tools such as Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, which enabled precise measurements, and conducted bathymetry surveys to accurately map underwater features.
Accessing Difficult Areas and Dealing with Tough Terrain: Caltech effectively overcame the challenges of accessing difficult areas and navigating tough terrain. They employed a range of specialized techniques and geospatial tools. They effectively utilized unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and laser scanning to gather data from visually challenging areas, including both underneath and above the bridges. This approach allowed them to capture intricate details of the bridge and its intersection with the highway. Additionally, Caltech conducted bathymetric surveys utilizing remotely operated boats equipped with sonar technology to collect comprehensive information about erosion and the surroundings of the bridge. These innovative approaches ensured thorough data acquisition and analysis, enabling a comprehensive understanding of the landscape’s impact on the stability and integrity of the bridges.
The partnership with our client on this project yielded significant results and benefits, including:
Detailed Data Analysis: Caltech’s surveys provided our client with detailed information about the erosion, enabling them to understand the locations and impacts of erosion on the bridge structure.
Accurate Identification of Erosion Areas: Utilizing precise measurements, Caltech helped our client identify specific erosion areas, such as the shear key erosion on the west bridge and the exposed pipe on the east bridge. This information was crucial for planning appropriate actions to address the geotechnical issues effectively.
Timely Project Completion: Caltech’s efficient methods allowed for quick project completion, enabling our client to receive the results promptly. This accelerated timeline empowered our client to take prompt action to prevent further bridge damage.
Improved Safety and Stability: With the valuable information provided by Caltech, our client could prioritize safety measures and enhance the bridges’ stability. This resulted in longer-lasting structures that provide increased safety for bridge users.
Meeting Industry Standards: Caltech adhered to our client’s rules and guidelines, ensuring that data collection and analysis met MOTI’s high standards. Caltech’s efficient approach allowed for safe and quick data collection without the need to close the road down, as required by traditional survey methods. This exemplifies their commitment to excellence while minimizing disruptions to regular traffic flow and project costs.
Caltech’s solutions, including laser scanning, aerial mapping, mobile mapping, and bathymetry, significantly contributed to these results, demonstrating their expertise and innovative approaches in addressing erosion challenges for this project.