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Confederation Bridge – An innovative approach to ice forces


Confederation Bridge was designed for a 100-year design life, and to a level of reliability previously not used for bridges. The increased level of reliability reflected the importance of the bridge as the principle transportation link to Prince Edward Island, and the commitment by the Federal Government to provide a continuous transportation link to the island. Prior to the contract award, potential impacts of the construction of the bridge on the ice regime in Northumberland Strait received considerable attention, and led to certain restrictions being placed on the bridge arrangement. During the design process, ice forces became the primary lateral load effect on the piers, and the subject of both controversy and uncertainty. The final arrangement of the piers was designed to reduce the ice forces and thus meet the required reliability for lateral stability and to mitigate potential impacts on the ice regime. Nine years of observations and measurements have provided considerable evidence as to the efficacy of the design in both respects, and the design may be more effective than was considered initially. Since the bridge opened in 1997, a comprehensive monitoring programme has been in place to assess the bridge performance in a number of areas, including ice interactions and ice forces. The paper describes how the pier arrangement has been effective in reducing ice forces, the character of ice interactions with the piers, and the forces that have resulted from such interactions. The paper also summarizes the findings as to the impact of the bridge on the ice regime in Northumberland Strait.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Brown, T.G