CONTRACTORS: Hecht Burdeshaw Architects, Inc. – Architect Hatch Mott MacDonald – Structural Engineer PROJECT SYNOPSIS: Originally constructed in 1833, the 14th Street Bridge connects the Columbus RiverWalk to the Alabama RiverWalk in Phenix City. The bridge was destroyed four different times and played a starring role in the last major Civil War land battle. Constructed in 1920, the current incarnation of the bridge is a nine span, earth-filled, closed spandrel arch structure that was rehabilitated in 2013 to serve as a pedestrian plaza over the Chattahoochee River. It provides the perfect vantage point for watching the world’s longest urban whitewater rafting course. PROJECT CHALLENGES: The structural restoration required extensive investigation in the condition of the structure, due to the lack of plans for the structure. The contractors used design details from other similarly constructed bridges of that period to develop an approach for the rehabilitation of the concrete arches and replacement of the overhangs. “Another interesting challenge of this project came about unexpectedly,” recalled G. Mark Hitchcock III, P.E., PMP, DBIA - Atlanta Office Manager for Hatch Mott MacDonald. “While replacing an end-span of the bridge, the excavation uncovered parts of the original storm sewer system that no one knew was there. Soils on that end of the bridge were so poor that the space could not be backfilled with more soil. The design would have to minimize the amount of load. The solution was a pair of retaining walls and conversion of the space into bathrooms. With this rehabilitation, the bridge is now primarily used for pedestrian traffic – no longer exposed to heavy wear and tear from the passage of trucks and cars. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, it should still be standing for many decades. This project was such a unique, one-of-a-kind exercise. You don’t run into these things that often.” The 14th Street Bridge rehabilitation project was selected for a State Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia (ACEC Georgia) and a National Recognition Award by ACEC National.
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