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Bay Bridge Awarded Top Honor

Monday, October 5, 2015

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The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span was recently named the 2015 Outstanding Structure by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE).

Global infrastructure consulting firm T.Y. Lin International (TYLI) announced the win in a statement Wednesday (Sept. 30). The award was presented by IABSE at its conference in Geneva, Switzerland, held Sept. 23-25.

Earning Top Honors

Established in 1998, the Outstanding Structure Award acknowledges “the most remarkable, innovative, creative or otherwise stimulating structures” around the world, according to IABSE. Sustainability and respect of the environment is also an important factor, it said.

© / peterscode

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span recently received the 2015 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.

When IABSE announced the 2015 award winner in early September, the Award Committee, chaired by Paul Lüchinger, Switzerland, said this of the span: “With a ground-breaking advanced bridge design the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span demonstrates how innovations in seismic engineering can become the bridge to making history.”

The association acknowledged the engineering innovations and advancements at work in the span, including shear link beams in the single tower, hinge pipe beams and specially designed expansion joints in the bridge decks, and foundations that reach up to 91 meters below the water’s surface to anchor in stable soils.

“A dramatic signature bridge, the East Span has been designed to save lives while enhancing the Bay Area,” IABSE noted.

The East Span project was led by the California Department of Transportation, in association with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the California Transportation Commission.

TYLI and its project partners accepted the Outstanding Structure Award at the IABSE Conference in Geneva on Sept. 23.

“We are deeply honored to have our work on [the] San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span recognized by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering,” said Marwan Nader, PhD, PE, TYLI senior vice president, technical director for the firm’s global Bridge Line of Business. Nader was also lead design engineer for the Self-Anchored Suspension span.

“This tremendous effort has led to a unique and elegant structure that is the perfect addition to the world-class bridges in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.”

Engineering a 'Lifeline Structure'

TYLI, in a joint venture with Moffatt & Nichol, served as Engineer of Record on the East Span project and was responsible for the design engineering of the “seismically resilient” bridge.

The firm explained that significant attention was paid to the East Span’s location. Sitting between two faults capable of producing destructive earthquakes, the bridge, designated as a regional lifeline structure, must be able to remain open to emergency vehicles shortly after a quake.

© / aijohn784

“A dramatic signature bridge, the East Span has been designed to save lives while enhancing the Bay Area,” IABSE noted in its awards announcement.

“The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge New East Span project came with complex design engineering challenges, such as the region’s high seismicity and the San Francisco Bay’s formidable geological features,” said TYLI senior vice president Sajid Abbas, Ph.D., P.E. Abbas was also lead design engineer for the Skyway portion of the bridge.

“As a result, T.Y. Lin International included innovations in bridge design and seismic engineering technologies in order to accomplish our primary goal: to provide the highest levels of seismic safety for Bay Area communities,” he added.

Bridge Design and Engineering

According to TYLI, the bridge comprises four seamless, interrelated components:

  • The world’s longest, single-tower Self-Anchored Suspension Span (SAS) at 624 meters, also the world’s widest bridge at 79 meters;
  • The 1,900-meter Skyway, the longest East Span portion, which ascends from the Oakland shoreline to the SAS;
  • The Oakland Touchdown, connecting the Skyway to a major California freeway; and
  • The Yerba Buena Island Transition Structure (YBITS), which links the SAS to the east portal of the Yerba Buena Island (YBI) tunnel.

As noted by IABSE, engineering innovations and advancements found in TYLI’s design of the East Span included the use of shear link beams in the single, 160-meter-tall SAS tower, which supply the distinctive tower with the required stiffness, absorb seismic energy, and limit damage in the tower shafts.

A single, 1,387-meter-long looped suspension cable anchors in the SAS superstructure itself rather than in the ground at either end, due to the area’s unique geological conditions.

The Skyway foundations comprise 2.5-meter-diameter raked piles that extend 90 meters below the water line to stable soil strata.

For increased seismic resilience, 18-meter-long hinge pipe beams and specially designed expansion joints were incorporated in the bridge decks to allow emergency traffic to cross the bridge after a major earthquake.

2015 Awards Contest

The IABSE issues diplomas to the owner of the awarded structure to be distributed among the parties involved in the planning, design and construction of the awarded structure—the engineers, the architects and the contractors.

Runners-up in the 2015 competition included:

  • Abeno Harukas, Japan’s tallest skyscraper at 300 meters, completed in 2014;
  • Xiamen North Railway Station Building, the world’s first structure using the innovative space grid roof consisting of bidirectional unequal height intersection trusses with spans of 132m by 220m; and
  • Nanjing Dashengguan Yangtze River Bridge, which sets a record for long-span bridges with multiple railway tracks and has become a landmark in high-speed railway construction in China.

The IABSE was founded in 1929, operates on a worldwide basis, and deals with all aspects of planning, design, construction, maintenance, and repair of civil engineering structures. Its mission is to exchange knowledge and to advance the practice of structural engineering worldwide in the service of the profession and society.


Tagged categories: Awards and honors; Bridges; Competitions; Contests; Design build; Engineers; North America; Quality Control

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