Sunday, July 19, 2009

Huge 2012 Olympic bridge shunt touches down

The 1,600 tonne, 128m long and 14m wide bridge has now touched down in Stratford. ODA Chairman John Armitt said: “The town centre link bridge is crucial to getting millions of spectators from Stratford Town Centre to the other side, into the Olympic Park. It will play a key role during the Games and will play a key role in legacy, allowing residents and commuters to walk freely from one side to the other.”
Network Rail’s Anglia route director, Patrick Hallgate, said: “This project took a great deal of planning and collaboration with our partners to ensure all the necessary measures were in place. Learning lessons from the installation of the first two bridge sections, we’re pleased and proud that we’ve been able to deliver this final piece of key infrastructure without any disruption to train services through Stratford station.”Interim Managing Director, London Underground Richard Parry, said: “This new footbridge is a huge step towards improving access to the Olympic Park and will help to severely reduce congestion around the Stratford Regional station entrances when it opens in 2011.“A lot of work and planning has gone into making sure that this new footbridge was installed without affecting London Underground and Overground services and we are delighted to see that this has paid off and that this important milestone has been reached without a hitch,” he said.


Burj Dubai opens 'this year'

The official opening date of the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai remains uncertain - but it will be this year, according to its developer.

Emaar Properties said in a brief statement that the Burj Dubai: “is scheduled to open this year”.

The firm had previously announced that the 800m tower, which still has an incomplete facade, would open in September.

Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper reported that the skyscraper’s opening would be delayed until December.

Emaar’s profits and share price have been dented by falling property prices in Dubai and other markets.

The skyscraper became the world’s tallest building and tallest free-standing structure in April when it surpassed the KVLY-TV mast in North Dakota in the US, which held the record for the world’s tallest supported structure.

Emaar announced in June that the building’s completion had been delayed by upgrades for its: “luxury finishes”. The tower is part of a development which is expected to feature 30,000 homes, hotels, a shopping mall and a man-made lake.


Bridge collapses in Detroit following a fuel tanker explosion

A fuel tanker explosion has caused an overhead bridge to collapse in Detroit, Michigan

The National Transportation Safety Board launched a three-member team to investigate Wednesday’s multiple-
vehicle accident that resulted in a fire and a bridge collapse.

At about 8:10 p.m. on Wednesday a tanker truck carrying approximately14,000 gallons of gasoline rolled over in the City of Hazel Park north of Michigan. The resulting fire was not fully extinguished until 4am the next morning.

A firefighter and paramedic, of Hazel Park fire department told NCE:

” When the team arrived, the site was engulfed in flames and the heat was so intense that 50 firefighters were at the scene battling to extinguish the flames, there was black smoke of a high density imparing our vision. that required one million gallons of water to put out.

We are lead to believe the accident occured because of a driver who had lost control of his vehicle that susequently smashed into the tanker causing the semi trailer to come apart, skidd and therefore instantaeously catch alight”.

A spokesman for The Detroit Department of transport, Robert Morosi said:

” Soon after the accident authorities cordend off the surrounding areas and underpass; just as well, because the section of the area where the bridge had burned collapsed hours later and crashed on to the ground”

The concrete and steel bridge was originally built in 1966 and that had only last summer undergone extensive refurbishment. It now required construction workers called in to demolish the remaining 60 % that stood after the collapse.

” The bridge will be rebuilt costing USD $2m and assessments are underway to determine the affect the fire may have had on other civil infrastucture such as roads and neighbouring pavemnets so that they too can be refurbished” added Morosi.

Three injuries have been reported.


Buffalo Bill Dam

Name: Buffalo Bill Dam
Location: USA
Date Completed: 1905 - 1910
Type: Thick arch gravity
Height: 350 ft
Images: Altavista collections; Google collections
Facts:Buffalo Bill Dam was one of the first high concrete dams built in the United States. It was the first major dam to be designed using the trial-load analysis technique.


Aswan Dam

Name: Aswan Dam
Location: Egypt
Date Completed: 1902
Type: Gravity Dam
Height: 34 meters
Images: Altavista collections; Google collections
Facts:Hailed as an engineering marvel at the beginning of the twentieth century.


China Seeks Report On Dam's Ecological Effects

China's environment ministry said it has ordered an ecological assessment for a proposed Yangtze River dam that conservationists fear could threaten hundreds of fish species and drive the giant Chinese sturgeon into extinction.

BEIJING -- China's environment ministry said it has ordered an ecological assessment for a proposed Yangtze River dam that conservationists fear could threaten hundreds of fish species and drive the giant Chinese sturgeon into extinction.
Chinese environmentalists and scientists are trying to halt the Xiaonanhai dam, upstream from Chongqing city in mountainous western China, saying that it and two other dams would flood most of the last remaining fish reserve on the Yangtze, preventing the migration of rare fish.
Agence France-Presse
A fisherman returns home to a migrant village up-river from the Three Gorges dam project near Chongqing, China, last year. At least 1.4 million people have been forced to resettle from now-submerged areas.
They argue that could lead to the extinction of species such as the Chinese sturgeon, one of the world's longest freshwater fish.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection's chief engineer, Wan Bentai, announced the environmental assessment order at a news conference Thursday, saying the ministry has the power to reject the project if it is shown to be harmful to the environment.

"The Chinese government is fond of developing hydropower, but we must take into account the environmental effects of those projects," Mr. Wan said.
He said the assessment will be commissioned by the Chongqing government, but it was unclear when it would be finished.
China has pumped money into hydropower as part of plans to wean its economy off its dependency on coal. There are more than 25,800 large dams in China -- more than any other country, according to International Rivers, a nonprofit group based in California. Critics say the dams will obstruct the free flow of the river and threaten aquatic life.
Some 338 species of fish live in the Yangtze River basin, 162 of them unique to the river, a group of scientists and environmentalists wrote last month in the China Economic Times.

Copyright © 2009 Associated Press


Corinth Canal

Name: Corinth Canal
Location: Greece
Date Completed: 1882
Length: 4 miles
Images: Altavista collections; Google collections
Facts:The construction started in AD 67 but ceased and finally completed in 1882. The canal is a 4-mile cutting with an average depth of 190 feet.


Bridgewater Canal

Name: Bridgewater Canal
Location: UK
Date Completed: 1763
Images: Altavista collections; Google collections
Facts:The Bridgewater Canal is one of the oldest commercial canals in the UK and is still one of the most advanced.


Albert Canal

Name: Albert Canal
Location: Belgium
Date Completed: 1939
Length: 130 km
Images: Altavista collections; Google collections
Facts:Waterway connecting the cities of Antwerp and Lige in Belgium.


Massive Fake Quake Will Shake 6-Story Condo

A massive simulated earthquake will rock a six-story wooden condominium to the brink of collapse Tuesday, during one of the largest shake-table experiments undertaken to date.

A massive simulated earthquake will rock a six-story wooden condominium to the brink of collapse Tuesday, during one of the largest shake-table experiments undertaken to date.

The simulation, which will be webcast live July 14 at 11 a.m. EDT on the National Science Foundation website, is designed to test how a mid-rise wood-frame building would stand up to shaking from an earthquake around magnitude 7.5.

Update: This post was updated Wednesday morning to include video from the shake experiment, below.

We’re taking it to an earthquake level that’s associated with being on the verge of collapse,” said civil engineer Michael Symans of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who helped design the test building. “We don’t expect it to collapse, but we expect it to be very vulnerable to a strong aftershock that could cause it to collapse.”

The 23-unit condo building currently sits on the world’s largest shake table, a 50-by-60-foot structure in Miki, Japan. The table will simulate the motions of the 1994 earthquake in Northridge, California, amplified about 1.5 times. Sensors on each floor of the building will record motion and detect internal damage, generating valuable data about how wooden structures perform in a quake.

Although wooden buildings are cheaper and faster to construct than those made of steel, very few mid-rise structures in the United States are currently built of wood. “Even in seismically vulnerable parts of the West Coast, there just isn’t much of an understanding of how taller wood structures will behave under ground shaking,” Symans said. “It might be desirable to build in wood, but at this point that’s not an option from a building-code point of view, partially because we just don’t know what will happen in an earthquake.”

The test marks the final experiment in a four-year collaboration called the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Wood project, funded by a $1.4 million grant from NSF and donated materials from the industrial manufacturer Simpson Strong-Tie.

The project’s first experiment subjected a two-story wooden house to a magnitude 6.7 earthquake, which severely damaged the structure. The engineers determined that homes built to current building standards might not topple during a large earthquake, but they’d likely never be livable again.

For the current test, they experimented with new design principles meant to help the condominium withstand shaking.

“Basically, what happens during an earthquake in multiple-story building is something called a ’soft story,’” said civil engineer John van de Lindt of Colorado State University, who led the condo design. “It’s not as stiff as the story above it, and the earthquake demands more stiffness from the lower story. This can develop into a pancake collapse, which damages the building and can kill people.”

The new design distributes the stiffness vertically throughout the height of the building, van de Lindt said, to reduce the chance of a soft-story collapse.

On June 30 and July 6, engineers subjected the condo to preliminary testing, seen in the video below.


Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Name: Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

Location: Japan

Date Completed: 1998

Type: suspension

Length of Span: 3456 meters

Images: Altavista collections; Google collections

The world's longest suspension bridge.


UH team analyzes Hurricane Ike's effects on waterways, fish contamination

A long-term environmental research project being conducted at the University of Houston may offer important information about the effects of Hurricane Ike on pollution levels and help regulators determine whether existing fish-consumption advisories remain appropriate.

With this year's storm season under way, the UH engineering team's project is entering a new phase as participants collect and analyze fresh samples from Galveston Bay and related waterways.

Cullen College of Engineering professor Hanadi Rifai, who has studied pollution in Houston-area bodies of water in partnership with both state and federal authorities since 2001, is leading the team.

"Our work with the Galveston Bay system started in the early '90s with funding from the EPA Galveston Bay National Estuary Program," said Rifai, whose team helped write the first "State of the Bay" report identifying the environmental challenges facing the estuary.

"We have since focused on POPs, or persistent organic pollutants, which include dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. We have a unique opportunity this year to study the effect of Hurricane Ike on these pollutants, particularly in the water and sediment of the estuary, so we are gathering a one-of-its-kind data set for the 'after' condition that we can compare to our pre-Ike 2008 data set," Rifai said. "The results will be enlightening from an environmental impact perspective of hurricanes on natural resources such as Galveston Bay."

As part of the Environmental Protection Agency's Total Maximum Daily Load Program, the team has been creating sophisticated models to help determine how much pollution a body of water is taking in and where that pollution is coming from. The team has upwards of 50 monitoring sites, Rifai said, and it looks for pollutants in sediment, water and tissue.

"The EPA has asked the states to come up with water bodies that do not meet Clean Water Act standards and with ways to address the problem," Rifai said. "For the first few years, we looked at dioxins, and now we're also looking at PCBs in every body of water in the Houston metro area, all the way to upper Galveston Bay. We're focused on past and current industrial pollutants."

Dioxins are primarily byproducts resulting from paper mills, industrial waste incineration and water purification processes, but they also result from natural sources like forest fires in much smaller quantities. Rifai said her team believes the majority of dioxins found locally today are from historical sources.

Meanwhile, PCBs, whose manufacture was banned in 1979, long were used as coolants and lubricants in electrical transformers and capacitors. Why they persist today in local waterways and seafood remains something of a mystery, Rifai said.

"Now, what we find with the PCBs, and what's got people worried, is, if indeed it's historical from before the ban, you would see it in the sediment," she explained. "But, we're actually seeing the patterns have shifted, as if there are some new sources of PCBs. Since the 1990s, we've had so much growth and industrial activity kicking back up that there might be some new material coming in."

What those new sources are remains unclear, Rifai said, and materials that were manufactured with PCBs before the ban may still be in use.

"Historically with PCBs, if you've made a million transformers, you didn't have to destroy them. You use them up till they die," she said, adding that many outdated transformers were ruined by Hurricane Ike.

In July 2008, the Texas Department of State Health Services issued an advisory for Galveston Bay, Chocolate Bay, East Bay, West Bay, Trinity Bay and contiguous waters, saying consumers should limit intake of spotted seatrout, also known as speckled trout, and gafttop catfish to no more than one 8-ounce meal a month. Furthermore, children, women who are nursing, pregnant or who may become pregnant are to have none. Long-term consumption of both dioxins and PCBs is believed to cause numerous health effects, including cancer.

"The problem is that these compounds are what is called 'bioaccumulative.' Once they get in the food chain, they accumulate – you cannot synthesize them," Rifai said. "A lot of the impacts of those compounds are subtle. They might be neurologic; they might be developmental. They're the kinds of things that do not show up for quite a while."

The inclusion of new species in the advisories, Rifai said, has many implications, because commercial and recreational fishing is a $100-plus million industry annually. But, when her team was asked by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to do its own assessment of the state health department findings last year, the results were what Rifai expected.

"We told them that we thought the data was valid. We actually merged it with our data, and it was very consistent with what we see," she said. "We looked carefully at what was done, and, at the end of the day, I wasn't surprised."

While the industrial history of Houston is amazing, Rifai said, residents and officials are dealing with the repercussions of it now and will continue to for a long time, especially in coastal communities.

"You have to balance the protection of the resource with the need for development and growth," she said. "You also have to think about areas really vulnerable to these extreme events, like hurricanes."

She notes, however, that industrial partners have been critically important to her team's work.

"I'll tell you, industry in this area has come a long way. They really realize that they live in a community, ought to give back to the community and ought to work with the community. What's good for the water is going to be good for everyone around the water."

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 36,000 students.

About the Cullen College of Engineering

The Cullen College of Engineering at UH has produced five U.S. astronauts, 10 members of the National Academy of Engineering, and degree programs that have ranked in the top 10 nationally. With more than 2,600 students, the college offers accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in biomedical, chemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering. It also offers specialized programs in aerospace, materials, petroleum engineering and telecommunications.

For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at


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