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Building the foundation of North Main Street's new bridge

Posted March 16, 2018

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V-Pier Bridge design
Signature bridges over the future bypass channel are being built now and will allow traffic to enter Panther Island from the north and west.

The recent soggy weather hasn’t dampened progress much on the North Main Street bridge.

Construction on the Trinity River Vision Authority’s third signature V-pier bridge began in late December with traffic detours on North Main Street near Coyote Drive-In and LaGrave Field. The bridge is being built on dry land and will serve as a connector across the new bypass channel. Design of the north end of the bypass channel was approved in December.

Steps in V-pier structure construction

Step 1: Pier shaft construction. This initial step requires drilling approximately 30 feet into the ground to create a strong foundation to support the future bridge structure. Once the pier shafts are drilled, a circular steel cage is inserted in the drilled hole and concrete is poured to reinforce the bridge’s foundation. This bridge will have four pier shafts, each 10 feet in diameter, below ground. Work began on the pier shafts in December and they were completed in early February.

Step 2: Pier column construction. The pier columns are constructed by encasing circular steel reinforcement in high-strength concrete, which connects to the underground pier shafts. The upper part of the pier columns has a round dome that will be visible above the waterline. The four pier columns are underway now; the first two were poured the second week of March.

Step 3: V-pier construction. Once the pier shafts and columns are complete, the bridge’s four signature V-piers will support the bridge’s superstructure, or deck, for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The North Main bridge will have four V-piers that will consist of approximately 210 cubic yards of steel-reinforced high-strength concrete.

Why a V shape?

The signature bridges get their name from the V-shape of the support pier that will be visible above the water. But there’s more beneath the surface.

The V-shape is an alliance of art and architecture. World-renowned architect Miguel Rosales designed the V-pier structure with Freese and Nichols Inc. of Fort Worth. Aesthetically, the design mirrors structures in Fort Worth’s Cultural District, like the Modern Art Museum. Practically, the V-pier design provides better bridge support with fewer piers. Fewer piers mean less concrete and fewer obstructed views from the river.

Ultimately, the V-piers will support the superstructure of the bridge, which will connect traffic from one side of the bypass channel to the other.

The Panther Island project, which includes three signature bridges positioned along the to-be-realigned Trinity River, are a collaborative effort between the Trinity River Vision Authority, TxDOT, City of Fort Worth, North Central Texas Council of Governments, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tarrant County.

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