Cofferdams Protecting New York Bridges from Ship Collisions

by Daniel M. Hahn, (M.ASCE), Engr. of Design; Tunnels, Bridges & Terminals Design Div., Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, One World Trade Center, New York, N.Y. 10048,
Hugo E. Rama, (M.ASCE), Staff Engr.; Tunnels, Bridges & Terminals Design Div., Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York, N.Y. 10048,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1982, Vol. 52, Issue 2, Pg. 67-68


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: During the past few decades, there have been a number of cases where ships have rammed bridge piers, triggering the superstructure's collapse. The most tragic case was the collapse of three spans of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge into Tampa Bay on May 9, 1980. Such cases underscore the crucial importance of protecting bridge piers from ramming by large ships. In the New York City area, the Port Authority has taken some pier-protection steps that have already fended off catastrophe. Specifically, the PA has constructed sand-filled cofferdams adjacent to piers on some of its bridges. These in effect serve as crash barriers, preventing mammouth vessels from ramming bridge piers.

Subject Headings: Accident prevention | Bridges | Cofferdams | Piers

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