‘Infrastructure’ Tag

Pin and Hanger Assembly

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

This is a common type of connection seen on road bridges. Next time you are driving on the highway, look up at a bridge you go under and see if you notice one of these. Pin and hanger assemblies are used to connect two girders together where the bridge span is otherwise too long for one girder. One girder is supported by a column to the earth, and on the cantilevered end of this girder is the connection to the second girder. While these connections are common sights, they have been determined to be too costly to maintain and ineffective at preventive catastrophic failure. For this reason, new bridges aren’t built using this type of connection.

Tubular Electrical Transmission Tower

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

The transmission tower shown in this photo uses a steel tube to meet the load requirements needed to support power transmission lines over a distance. This type of transmission tower is not the most common, but it is gaining popularity due to its durability and ease of construction.

Lattice Electrical Transmission Tower

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

You’ve probably seen one of these before. This is the most common structure used to support power transmission lines from one location to another location. This particular structure uses a steel lattice to meet the load requirements needed in this application.

Parallel Draw Bridges, Chicago, IL

Photo Credit: Kathryn Kubicek

Pictured above are five draw bridges, located in downtown Chicago, spanning parallel across the Chicago river. Draw bridges are very important because they allow vessels to pass that would not be able to pass through a water way with a fixed bridge. Along this section of the Chicago river there are approximately two dozen draw and bascule bridges to allow the busy city street traffic and river traffic to coexist.

Concrete Bridge Substructure

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

This is the underside of a concrete bridge. Technically, this is known as the substructure, or the part of the whole structure that supports the superstructure, or the roadway in this case. You can see nicely the beams and girders that run laterally and longitudinally under the bridge superstructure, and the massive columns that extends vertically down to the ground to provide the support. The substructure is an important element of every bridge.

Failing Infrastructure

Photo Credit: Karl Jansen

This is the infamous Stadium Blvd Bridge in Ann Arbor, MI. For the past several years, this bridge has literally been falling down, waiting on funds for a rehabilitation project. What you see on the near side of the bridge is an exposed beam, which used to be the south side of the bridge. Last year, the south half of the bridge was removed for public safety reason, because officials were worried “football size” chunks of concrete would fall on a car or pedestrian. This fall, the City of Ann Arbor with its secured funding will finally undertake this long overdue project.

Cloverleaf Interchange

Photo Credit: Brian Wolfe

This is a great example of a classic cloverleaf interchange of a major road and a highway. The cloverleaf interchange gets its name from its shape. Half of the ramps, where the driver would normally make a right turn at an at-grade intersection, are smooth curves on the outer edges of this interchange. The other half of the ramps, where the driver would normally make a left turn to get on the other road, are 270-deg loops on the inner part of the interchange. They have been a popular choice by transportation engineers for many decades, but recently they are being replaced by safer and more efficient interchanges. The problem with the cloverleaf interchange has to do with the merging in/out of the loop ramps, especially when there is a heavy slow-to-accelerate truck in the mix which are also prone to roll-over accidents.

Exposed Rebar on Bridge

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen here is an example of the crumbling infrastructure often reported by the media. As can be seen in this photograph of the top side of a bridge, all the rebar of the side barrier is exposed along the roadway. This is especially bad because when salt is applied during the winter to prevent ice buildup on the roadway, the rebar is eroded even faster than it would be if it were only exposed to air and water. This is due to the chlorides in the salt that become active when dissociated in water.

Swing Bridge

Photo Credit: Alex Mead

Seen above is a swing bridge over a small river near Detroit, MI. The concept of a swing bridge is similar to a draw bridge in that the bridge is movable to allow traffic to pass through the area it spans. This allows a smaller bridge to be built than would otherwise be necessary for height clearance purposes. The swing bridge operates by rotating around the central pivot of the span to clear the area above the water surface to allow vessels to pass. The bridge is currently in the “closed” position and would be perpendicular to the screen if it were rotated to the “open” position to allow traffic to pass.