No need to meet us halfway

Expansion joints for a multi-span bridge

In supplying the expansion joints of the Halfway River Bridge in western Canada, we reflect on what has always been an integral part of mageba’s mission – offering optimal solutions for any particular bridge’s requirements from our wide range of products, and ensuring high quality, so the client doesn’t have to compromise on either.

The Halfway River Bridge on Highway 29 in northern British Columbia is the sort of structure for which we love to supply our products – in this case expansion joints. With its total length of 1042 m (3418 ft), the bridge’s superstructure (steel girders with max. span of 84 m, prefabricated concrete deck panels, with concrete deck and asphalt overlay) is expected to experience movements of up to 1135 mm (45 in) at each end. Due to the client’s preference for finger-type expansion joints, as opposed to the modular-type joints that would typically be used nowadays to accommodate such large movements, this gave mageba the opportunity to shine in a way our competitors typically can’t. Indeed, we like to think we are uniquely well qualified to meet the needs of a project like this, considering our experience in designing and manufacturing expansion joints of different types – including finger-type joints – to facilitate movements of this magnitude. Our experience in supplying expansion joints for enormous movements goes back several decades already, e.g. with 25-gap TENSA®MODULAR joints accommodating movements of 2000 mm (79 in) manufactured in 1996 for the Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong. In the case of finger-type joints in particular, we supplied TENSA®FINGER Type GF expansion joints with movements of up to 1240 mm (49 in) in 2010 for the Audubon Bridge over the Mississippi – an extraordinarily large movement for “modern” finger-type joints that are not supported at mid-span.

So when a bridge designer or owner is looking for an expansion joint solution for movements of this magnitude, we have the experience and expertise needed to provide good advice on the pros and cons of each alternative, and to provide a complete design-and-fabricate solution for the chosen option. Where a client prefers a finger-type expansion joint, for instance, we can offer three standard options from our product range: TENSA®FINGER Type GF sliding finger joints (of the type used here), TENSA®FLEX Type RC sliding finger joints, and TENSA®FINGER Type RSFD cantilever finger joints. When none of these standard options will suffice, however, we have extensive experience in developing a tailored solution to meet a project’s unique requirements – generally on the basis of well-proven standard designs such as these.

The joints required for the Halfway River Bridge are designed to accommodate movements of 1150 mm (45 in) – almost as large as the similar joints of a decade earlier for the Audubon Bridge. In this case, however, the very different climate with heavy snowfalls had to be taken into account. Additionally, there were numerous other project-specific requirements and different national design and fabrication standards required. A specific design detail for which the experience from Audubon Bridge was particularly relevant related to the drainage channel beneath the expansion joint, which was similarly specified to have an unusually large slope of 10%.

So please let us know how we can support you on your next project. When it comes to designing and manufacturing bridge expansion joints – as well as bearings, dampers and other key bridge components – we have what it takes to provide you with the ideal technical solution from our wide range of tried-and-trusted products, or a specially developed unique design, so you will never have to compromise on achieving the perfect solution for your structure.

Bridge / Building designer: WSP
Contractor: Eiffage Infrastructure Canada
Owner: BC MoTI

The Halfway River Bridge on Highway 29 in British Columbia, Canada is expected to be opened to traffic at the end of 2021 (© EIFFAGE)

Like the bridge as a whole, its expansion joints in particular must be able to withstand the harsh climate, including frequent heavy snowfalls, at the bridge’s location in northern British Columbia (© EIFFAGE)

The design of the expansion joints – one shown here during fabrication – makes them the largest finger-type expansion joints ever supplied by mageba for a bridge in Canada

Lifting of one 21-tonne expansion joint onto a truck for shipping across the Pacific from mageba’s Shanghai factory to the bridge construction site in eastern Canada

Safely enclosed inside this 40-foot shipping container – fully closed to minimise the width and still just fitting in – the joints are optimally protected for their journey

Assembly on site of the similar joints of the Audubon Bridge in 2010, with connection of the drainage channel beneath

Lifting of a huge TENSA®FINGER expansion joint into position in the deck of the Audubon Bridge

A TENSA®FINGER expansion joint, designed for movements of 1240 mm (49 in), in the deck of the Audubon Bridge prior to concreting