The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

The icy temperatures sweeping across the United States have caused foundation work on the new Tappan Zee Bridge to come to a halt.  The frozen areas of the Hudson River in New York are preventing tug boats from being able to move around safely.  Project leaders are not sure how long the delays will last, but the forecast for the next week looks promising with every day’s high temperature well above freezing.  As soon as the large chunks of ice floating in the Hudson River melt, workers can get back to installing piles to support the bridge.  The project schedule includes a two-month period each year where crews will not be able to work on the Tappan Zee Bridge due to weather restrictions.  As a result, this delay is not expected to affect completing the bridge by 2018, and construction is continuing to move forward on land.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are hoping to pick a group of winning bidders for the La Guardia airport replacement this spring.  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the outdated, undersized airport in his State of the State address on Wednesday.  He cited the fact that La Guardia is currently ranked the worst airport in America as the main reason the Port Authority needs to finally award a contract to redesign the existing terminal.  He even mentioned that he would like to take political ownership of the project to ensure it gets completed. 

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a plan recently to spend $17 billion in federal disaster aid on improving the state’s infrastructure and developing systems that will increase emergency preparedness. Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Albany, New York on Tuesday to show support for the plan.  Cuomo’s plan would fund over 1,000 projects across New York City and upstate including finding a way to quickly seal of the city’s 500 subway tunnels quickly during extreme weather.  The subway system flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and the system required extensive repairs and needed to be temporarily closed down.  He plan’s to undergo the largest reconstruction of the New York transit system in over a hundred years using $5 billion in federal aid.  The plan calls for a redevelopment of New York’s two “inexcusable” airports JFK and LaGuardia to keep pace with the best international airports. Another highlight of the plan is the addition of a college to the State University of New York (SUNY) school system that will be dedicated to responding to disasters.  Cuomo plans to call it the SUNY College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cyber Security.

Wednesday, 08 January 2014 00:00

17 Die in India Building Collapse

A five-story structure collapsed on Sunday in Goa, India and 17 people are confirmed dead.  At least 22 people were rescued from the wreckage by late Sunday.  Rescue workers continue to dig through the rubble in hopes of finding other workers trapped below debris from the fallen building, but had to halt efforts Monday when the two next-door buildings started developing cracks.  Police are currently investigating the cause of the collapse but they have not been able to locate the project manager.  As a result, they are relying on eyewitness accounts to estimate how many workers were on-site at the time and how many might still be trapped in the rubble.

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The California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has had an up and down year.  They successfully awarded a $985 million design-build contract for a 29-mile section of track connecting Madera to Fresno.  The company that was awarded the contract expects to begin pre-construction work in August.  The CHSRA was also able to add more qualified individuals to its staff and filled all of their top positions.  Another highlight was reaching an agreement with local farmers to mitigate the impact of constructing the high speed rail project on agricultural operations. 

Monday, 06 January 2014 00:00

Panama Canal Expansion May Face Delays

Spanish construction company Sacyr Vallehermoso announced Wednesday that the Panama Canal Authority has 21 days to pay for the nearly $1.6 billion in cost overruns on the canal expansion project.  Pananma’s President, Ricardo Martinelli, tweeted that he will reject the company’s ultimatum, and he plans to travel to Spain on Thursday to demand that Sacyr and Impregilo (Italian construction company) honor the original terms of the contract.  If the two sides cannot reach an agreement by January 20, the canal expansion contract states that the two parties must head to a Paris-based arbitration court.

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The Kentucky and Ohio Departments of Transportation announced that toll revenue would be required to fund the design and construction of a new Brent Spence Bridge. Current estimates place the cost of a new bridge at $3.57 billion.  The current Brent Spence Bridge is a double-decker cantilever truss bride that crosses the Ohio River.  It allows residents of Northern Kentucky to commute to Cincinnati, Ohio and vice versa.  The bridge was opened in 1963 and was designed to carry 85,000 vehicles per day.  As of 2007, 155,000 cars cross the bridge each day, and about 65% of the cars travel from Kentucky to Ohio.  In 2011, large pieces of concrete fell from the upper deck of the bridge onto the lower level, and the bridge was closed down for a day to repair the damage.  While it currently is considered to be structurally safe, many residents of Ohio and Kentucky have lost faith in the functionality of the original bridge.  As a result, the two states departments of transportation are currently studying the bridge to determine if it will be better to replace or rehabilitate the Brent Spence Bridge.