Wednesday, January 20, 2010

North Carolina plans to study the state's 17,000 bridges for safety gaps after yet another fatal fall

After the second person in four years plunged through a narrow gap between I-440 Beltline bridges, state officials have launched a study of 17,000 bridges aimed at preventing similar deaths.

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URI creates mobile lab for testing bridges and other structures

Civil engineering students at the University of Rhode Island will soon take to the roadways to apply what they have learned in the classroom in real-world analyses of bridges, buildings and other structures, thanks to the creation of a mobile testing laboratory.

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Bay Bridge repair to begin this week

Not requiring Caltrans to completely close the viaduct, structural repairs on San Francisco's Bay Bridge (amounting to about $14 million), are slated to begin as early as this week.

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Transportation officials in Ticonderoga, N.Y., offer six designs to replace the Crown Point Bridge over Lake Champlain

Offering featured two lanes and wider shoulders for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross, designs for the span between New York and Vermont include concrete and steel cable bridges, and “tied-arch” spans.

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U.S. Department of Transportation revises rules for traffic devices

As part of its continuing effort to improve safety on the nation’s roads and bridges, the U.S. Department of Transportation has released a comprehensive update to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The manual sets the standards for road safety throughout the country. “Safety is this department’s top priority,” says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These new and updated standards will help make our nation’s roads and bridges safer for drivers, construction workers and pedestrians alike.”

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Public indignation rises in China over attempt to repair bridge with glue

What? Talk about a quick fix. The Nanjing municipal government says 500,000 yuan ($73,250) will be used to repair cracks in the city’s Hanzhongmen Bridge, after an outcry over attempts by a local construction team to fix the cracks with glue.
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Enhancing safety on Mississippi River with bridge clearance technology

Attempting to help ensure safe passage and prevent costly collisions, a new Web-based system allows ships traveling on the Mississippi River to accurately measure the clearance space beneath bridges.

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Manhattan Bridge celebrates 100 years

Thursday marks the 100th anniversary of the official opening of the Manhattan Bridge. New York has spent $830 million repairing the bridge, known as the Rodney Dangerfield of the city’s bridges, since the 1980s. In an article in the November 2009 issue of RAI, check out Dave Frieder, a photographer who has been climbing and photographing New York’s bridges for more than 16 years, detailing the engineering behind this most amazing landmark.

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Mississippi River to get new bridge

By way of a $229.5 million construction deal awarded to contractors last week, the Mississippi River is set to get its first new bridge in more than four decades. The viaduct will create a new-fangled connection between Illinois and Missouri, and improved connections to and through St. Louis.

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Suspension bridge blueprint re-examined -- A team of structural engineers from the University of Sheffield in the UK say the assumptions originating with 17th century Dutch engineer Christiaan Huygens may need to be re-examined. Huygens assumed the best design for a suspension bridge was based on towers and simple cables hanging between them to support the weight, but the Sheffield group say a more complex design using less material would be more efficient.


Disputes loom for those who ignore key geotechnics Eurocode

Ignorance about the details of a key standard for ground engineering could lead to on-site disputes when it becomes effective in April, experts said this week.

A lack of training among smaller consultants and a general lack of awareness of the details of Eurocode 7 (EC7) and supporting documents such as execution standards are behind the fears.

This means that designer specifications could vary from the details provided in contractors’ construction methods outlined in the execution standards, leading to on-site disputes.

“There are lots of documents that people are not aware of,” explained EC7 committee member Andrew Bond.

“Eurocodes depend on other documents, such as execution standards. Consultants are not fully aware of these but, by default, a contractor will use these and that could lead to a dispute on the contract,” he said.

Maintaining consistency
EC7 becomes the standard for ground engineering work from 1 April and will be compulsory on all public sector projects.

Contractors and major clients such as the Highways Agency agree that execution standards are not well known.

“Some of them have been around for 10 years but they do tend to get forgotten,” said Highways Agency head of geotechnical engineering Alex Kidd.

The agency has brought in consultant Arup to help rewrite its specifications, ensuring that these take account of all the relevant documentation.

Designers who ignore execution standards could find themselves in conflict with contractors. Over for example tolerances for pile verticality.

“There could be an issue where the designer is not aware of what values are given in the execution standard and they are tighter than specified,” said Bond.

“It is all about the detail, some things have changed, some are the same but you have to look at specifics.

“It is a new set of documents and the main thing is that everyone works together.”

However consultants say that they are ready for the new codes. “Major consultants are ready and there has been a lot of training over the last 18 months and most have done some design using EC7 already,” said Arup director and EC 7 committee member Brian Simpson, although he conceded that training could be an issue for smaller consultants.


Fine for Commercial Road collapse

Citytex UK Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and was ordered to pay costs of £35,000 and a compensation fee of £200 to four people who were in the building at the time of the collapse.

Citytex UK was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 25 September last year.

No one was injured in the accident off Aldgate in Tower Hamlets.

According to the Health and Safety Executive which brough the case, “Work was being carried out on a wall at first floor level at the front of the building. A large gap had been made in the brick work and chimney breasts had been removed.

“At approximately 4.30pm the front elevation collapsed, dropping large amounts of debris onto the pavement nearby. The scaffolding at the front of the property fell onto a lamppost preventing the bulk of the rubble landing on passers-by and on the road.

The road, which is a major thoroughfare, was closed for several days while rescuers searched the rubble for any victims.

“The court heard how debris was prevented from falling onto pedestrians by scaffolding which had also fallen during the collapse,” read a statement.

HSE Inspector, Sarah Snelling, said: “More than 20 people were in this building when it collapsed and it was sheer luck that no one was seriously injured or even killed in this incident

“Construction work must be planned and carried out by competent builders. If not, it can lead to a number of risks including collapse.

“If Citytex UK Ltd had complied with its legal duties by appointing a Planning Supervisor, and a competent Principal Contractor, then the risks would have been substantially reduced.”

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), plans for the work had been drawn up by architects and structural consultants, however, the company’s managing director had taken over as principal contractor to execute the work along with his teenage son.

It also emerged that there was no construction phase plan for the work to the first floor of the building on Commercial Road, Tower Hamlets.

HSE inspector, Sarah Snelling, said: “If Citytex UK Ltd had complied with its legal duties by appointing a planning supervisor, and a competent principal contractor, then the risks would have been substantially reduced.”


China to build world's highest airport

China has planned to construct the world’s highest airport in Tibet by next year, according to a state media.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the Nagqu Dagring Airport will be built at an alititude of 4,436m and would be 102m higher than Bamda Airport, which is also in Tibet.

The plan is a part of Beijing’s agenda to boost the long-isolated Himalayan region’s economic growth and living standard.

In 2006, the Chinese government opened a railway link from Beijing to the capital Lhasa, and currently has undertaken construction work of six new rail lines in and around Tibet.

Culture concerns
Critics are worried that the developments at this rate would destroy the delicate ecosystem of the region

They have also expressed concern over increased migration of the majority ethnic Han Chinese to Tibet, which could harm its Buddhist culture and traditional way of life.

China claims that the Communist Party has ruled Tibet since Communist troops arrived in 1951, but Tibetans differ in their opinion.

They say the region was an independent theocracy for most of that time, and it denies having been part of Chinese territory since the mid-13th century.


Small wind turbines slammed

A Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) report, written by Professor Doug King, said far greater cuts could be achieved in new buildings and in “retrofitting” old buildings by focusing on bringing energy use down through efficiency measures.

He said the construction industry will struggle to meet Government targets to make all new homes “zero-carbon” by 2016 - and all new buildings by 2020 - because of a lack of skills in understanding the energy use of buildings.

Long-term targets to cut UK emissions by 80% by 2050 will also be threatened without a “step change” in improving energy efficiency of existing properties, said Dr Scott Steedman of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The vast majority of the buildings to be occupied in 2050 are already built, and traditional methods of saving energy, such as loft insulation, will not deliver the reductions needed.

King said on-site renewable energy generation, like small wind turbines or solar panels, makes little contribution to tackling energy demand.

This kind of very expensive “eco-bling” achieves little or nothing, Prof King said.


Haiti struck by 6.1-magnitude aftershock

A 6.1-magnitude aftershock has hit the stricken island nation of Haiti, still gripped by the effects of a massive 7.0 magnitude quake last week.

Theis latest earthquake struck the island some 60km to the west of the capital Port-au-Prince shortly at 11.03 AM GMT this morning.

The effects of this latest quake are so far unknown.

Disaster relief efforts continue, based at the capital Port-au-Prince.

Some 200,000 people are believed to have perished in the first earthquke that hit a week ago.

The aftershock struck as prime minister Gordon Brown outlined Britain’s planned response in the Commons. He said that immediate action had to be followed by a later assessment of the work.

Creation of a reconstruction agency should be considered by the United Nations, he suggested.

Work by fire and medical services was underway in Haiti, he said, and a British boat would now be sent there to assist with delivery of aid.

Brown said he also discussed with President Obama what further actions Britain could take, and had agreed to help rebuild several Government buildings there.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Design of Structural Elements

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Soil Mechanics Basic Concepts And Engineering Applications

Review Recommended as a reference for university libraries serving civil engineering, mining engineering, and geological engineering programs, as well as engineering consulting firms. Applied Mechanics Reviews Book Description This book provides logical, integrated and comprehensive coverage of both introductory and advanced topics in soil mechanics in an easy-to-understand style. It emphasizes presenting fundamental behavior before introducing more advanced topics. The use of SI units throughout, and frequent references to current international codes of practice and refereed research papers, make the contents universally applicable. As the book has been written with the university student in mind, the principal feature is its many worked examples that enhance understanding of the technical content and facilitate self-learning. Another feature is the special structure of the book that, by selecting suitable sections, makes it possible to be used in two-, three-, and four-year undergraduate courses in soil mechanics. However, as new and advanced topics that extend beyond standard undergraduate courses are included, the book will also be a valuable resource for the practicing professional engineer.

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Masonry Construction Manual

Masonry Construction Manual

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