Recent innovations in bridge abutment design have resulted in the development of open cell sheet pile bridge abutments. The open cell abutment structure is a cellular flat sheet pile structure driven in a partial circular shape when viewed from above. Open cell structures can easily resist very heavy loads such as extremely heavy drill rig vehicles and module loads, ice attack from arctic river breakup events and high seismic accelerations. Additionally, these abutments uniquely protect the bridge structure from the effects of extreme river scour.
These abutment structures are easily constructed without the use of field welding, bolted connections or an independent tieback system, making them less expensive and easier to construct. The system functions as a membrane, relying solely on the resistance developed between the soil and the sheet pile tail wall. The system does not rely on toe embedment for stability.
These structures have significant advantages over typical spill through or reinforced earth abutment structures, especially in arctic conditions. Over one-hundred open cell sheet pile structures (fifty-nine, of which are bridge abutments) have been built throughout Alaska and the rest of the United States, some in very active seismic zones. These structures have performed flawlessly in the twenty years of their history resisting hundreds of earthquakes.
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