The New River Gorge Bridge draws more than 100,000 thrill-seekers and spectators annually due to its soaring height and breathtaking views. B&N engineers have performed annual inspections of this significant structure since 2008, as well as load rating and rehabilitation repair design under contracts with the West Virginia Department of Transportation (WVDOT).
The 3,030-foot span is the nation’s second highest towering 876 feet above the New River. The structure also is the longest, single-span steel arch bridge in the western hemisphere. B&N uses adapted rope access techniques to climb the arch members and perform 400-foot rappels on the steel bents.
The B&N project team has completed in-depth inspections of all bridge components and ultrasonic readings at key locations. The team also has performed periodic and interim inspections, which focus on known deficiencies and fracture critical members.
Load Rating & Rehabilitation
B&N performed load rating on this bridge using a three-dimensional, finite element model created with MIDAS software. This included large, geometrically complex gusset plates. In addition, 4,840 bridge members were analyzed for multiple truck configurations, section loss, wind and temperature loads.
As part of the rehabilitation, B&N designed structural concrete and structural steel repairs for various parts of the bridge, such as arch members, columns, bearings, relief joints and areas of the deck and deck truss.
Construction plans and related documents were prepared using inspection photographs to detail the repair plans. Instead of providing line drawings for the existing bridge members, repair details were superimposed onto the photos. This provided the contractor with a three-dimensional perspective that made the repairs easier to understand.
The bridge load rating and rehabilitation was recognized as the Best Structural Systems Project in West Virginia during the 2017 Engineering Excellence Awards presented by the American Council of Engineering Companies of West Virginia (ACECWV).