The original Richard J. ‘Dick’ Henderson Memorial Bridge over the Kanawha River between the communities of St. Albans and Nitro, WV was opened to traffic in 1934. The replacement for this 79-year old bridge began on January 7, 2013.
The new bridge has a layout of three spans measuring 257 ft on the St. Albans side of the Kanawha River, 450 ft spanning over the Kanawha River and 302 ft on the Nitro side of the river. There are two piers; on either side of the river bank. The bridge utilized five lines of welded steel plate girders with cast-in-place concrete deck. The steel girders for the new bridge are just over 11 ft deep.
The contract document for the bridge required the contractor to construct the new bridge in about 10 months after closing the old bridge. The contract plans also indicated the construction of temporary piers in the river to erect steel girders for the middle span over the river.
E. L. Robinson (ELR) Engineering began to work in the pre-bid phase with engineers and construction personnel from Kokosing Construction to develop a cost effective and efficient methodology for the erection of the steel girders for the new bridge. ELR engineers evaluated several girder erection options.
During construction, the steel girders unlike concrete girders are at very high risk of buckling under their self-weight, wind, construction loading, etc. prior to the placement of the concrete deck.
E. L. Robinson Engineering developed state of the art computer 3-D models to investigate the step-by-step erection sequence. For each stage of the girder erection and lift, these models provided deflections, rotations, and stresses to ensure there were no problems during erection.
Through the use of advanced computer modeling, ELR engineers were able to eliminate the construction of temporary piers in the river. This meant the steel girders would cantilever more than half the length of a football field on either side of the river bank which also helped expedite the construction and resulted in a substantial cost savings to the citizens of West Virginia.
After being closed for 10 months, the new Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge was opened to the public ahead of schedule on November 1, 2013.