The Deh Cho Bridge, one of the world’s longest, continuous superstructures, received the prestigious Gustav Lindenthal Medal at this year’s International Bridge Conference ® (IBC). The award was presented to representatives of Infinity Engineering Group, Ruskin Construction and the government of the Northwest Territories – Canada, at the awards dinner reception.
The Gustav Lindenthal Medal, sponsored by
Bayer MaterialScience LLC, is awarded annually to recognize a recent outstanding achievement in bridge engineering. To receive this honor, the bridge’s engineering effort must demonstrate not only technical and material innovation and success, but also positive community participation, aesthetic merit and harmony with the environment.
Steven Sternberger, head – Industrial Marketing, Coatings, Adhesives & Specialties, Bayer MaterialScience LLC, presented the award. “The Deh Cho Bridge stands as a commendable example of using innovative design to meet stringent challenges, such as site conditions and location, schedule and budget constraints, while also creating an iconic, landmark structure,” said Sternberger.
The Deh Cho Bridge is the first bridge ever built over the Mackenzie River, Canada’s longest river. The largest bridge project to date in the Northwest Territories, the bridge is located near Fort Providence and connects Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories with Highway 1 in the south. By providing year-round service for cars and trucks along Highway 3, the Deh Cho Bridge permanently replaces ferry and ice road services, eliminating costly traffic disruptions during times of ice break-up.
In addition to its functional achievements, the bridge demonstrates creative design and construction. This creativity was needed to complete the project in its remote location and severe conditions (temperatures down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Deh Cho Bridge is a feat of engineering. It spans 3,430 feet with expansion joints only at its abutments. Bridge engineers and designers focused on durability and ease of inspection and maintenance with the goal of achieving the highest returns on investment over the bridge’s next 75 years of service.
To meet the construction schedule, the design team concentrated on tried-and-true economical construction and fabrication methods, which allow a high degree of repetition. The team optimized the bridge’s design to maximize prefabrication (utilizing assembly-line production) and permit incremental launching – a fast-paced erection technique. The design optimization relied on ecological lightweight bridge design principles as well as other innovative design methods, such as Fuse Design Philosophy and Failure Mechanism Concept. Use of these methods resulted in notable savings in material costs – 20 percent for steel and 30 percent for concrete.
In addition to the aesthetic, engineering and construction achievements, the Deh Cho Bridge is also an integral part of the community. The Mackenzie River is an important part of the lives of Canada’s aboriginal people, and the community is pleased with the bridge’s symmetry, simplicity, defined proportions and other aesthetic characteristics.
The IBC, in its 30
th year, is taking place June 2-6, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, the City of Bridges. It is the leading conference for the bridge industry in North America, Europe and Asia. IBC attracts more than 1,600 bridge owners and engineers, government officials, senior policy makers, construction executives, bridge designers and suppliers annually. The Gustav Lindenthal Medal is one of five awards that will be presented during IBC.
Created in 1999, this award is named for one of America’s most celebrated bridge engineers. Lindenthal is widely admired for his innovative ideas, vision and foresight during the technology boom of the late 19
th and early 20 th centuries. It’s fitting that the IBC is held in Pittsburgh, where Lindenthal established an engineering practice. He went on to design the city’s Smithfield Street Bridge. This bridge is designated as both a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Completed in 1883 as Pittsburgh’s first river bridge, the Smithfield Street Bridge is a double lenticular truss spanning the Monongahela River. It remains a popular passage today, serving more than 18,000 commuters and is the most heavily walked pedestrian bridge in the city.