The Hodder Avenue underpass in Thunder Bay, Ontario is proof that the extensive use of ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) in a modular project delivers versatility, durability and design excellence. At the forefront of the growth in UHPC use are its very specific properties, the foremost being ductility, one of the factors that sets it apart from conventional concrete, and even traditional high performance concrete. Its unique set of characteristics frees designers from the constraints of traditional solutions. Engineering expertise and partnerships with architects, designers, design offices and precasters have enabled the development of a great many uses. Today we can demonstrate Ultra High Performance Concrete's unequalled performance and longevity.
This Hodder Avenue Underpass is the first structure in North America to incorporate precast UHPC pier cap and pier column shells along with high-performance precast concrete box girders, parapet walls and approach slabs. Field connections, joints and closure strips were field cast using UHPC, resulting in smaller, simpler joints with superior durability. The bridge spans six highway lanes and is founded on a combination of hard till and bedrock. Because the structure would be exposed to the harsh northern Ontario climate, it was necessary to choose a construction material that could stand up to the extreme weather conditions, says Biljana Rajlic, vice-president and engineer for Hatch Mott MacDonald in Mississauga, Ontario. The precast concrete design gave the project durability and so much more, says Rajlic. “The use of precast concrete, along with UHPC joints, provided multiple benefits,” she notes. The precast prestressed concrete solution increased structural capacity and the design requirements while the UHPC allowed for smaller joints and improved durability, strength, and continuity. “Even after years of exposure to harsh climate and abuse from salt spray, it will still look great for decades to come,” adds Rajlic.
The project demonstrates that the use of precast ultra-high-performance and high-performance concrete bridge elements combined with field-cast UHPC connections gives designers an opportunity to advance bridge performance, shorten construction time, and extend the durability of these spans. The result, Rajlic says, “is a resilient, attractive structure that is built to last and an excellent model for similar precast bridge projects worldwide.”
“As the owner of the bridge, we are extremely proud of the finished structure,” says Ray Krisciunas of the Ministry of Transportation. “The use of UHPC enabled us to achieve our intended objective of an open, esthetically pleasing and welcoming bridge, which was also economical and durable. It will now form the baseline design for a number of other planned overpasses on this section of the Trans-Canada Highway.”
PCI Design Awards Winner in 2013 for
"Bridges with Main Span from 76-149 ft" and the
"Harry H. Edwards Industry Advancement Award."