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Bridge across Ohio River and Blennerhassett Island

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The bridge across Ohio River and Blennerhassett Island, located near Parkersburg, West Virginia, is the last link needed to complete Appalachian Corridor D, a major East–West transportation link in the region, the development of which was begun in 1965. Blennerhassett Island is site of a state park and has great historical significance. Archaeological excavations have unveiled traces of settlements dating as far back as 9000 years ago. In more recent history a wealthy Irish aristocrat, Harmann Blennerhassett, and his wife Margaret made the island their home. They purchased its eastern tip in 1798 and had a magnificent mansion constructed in an area that was frontier at the time and where most people lived in crude log cabins. Their home became the center of social activity and was considered one of the most elegant estates in Virginia. In the event, the expenses for the mansion, together with some failed business ventures and Harmann's entanglement with Aaron Burr's conspiracy against the United States to form a separate western empire forced the couple to flee the island in 1806. Ultimately they returned to Ireland, where they died in poverty. The mansion accidentally burned to the ground in 1811. However, it has been reconstructed at the original site and can be toured by visitors to the park. Due to the historical and environmental sensitivity of the site, far reaching input in the bridge type selection was given to environmental, historical, and architectural stake holders. The final structure chosen is 1222 m long, comprising slender steel plate girders composite with a concrete deck for the approach spans and a steel tied arch bridge for the main span across the navigable channel of the Ohio River. A unique feature of the arch is its network hanger arrangement which improves stiffness, redundancy, and strength of the structure. With a span length of nearly 268 m, the tied arch ranks among the longest of this type in the world. The initial contract value of the project of USD 120 million makes this the largest contract ever awarded by the West Virginia Department of Highways.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-02-01

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    Structural Engineering International (SEI), the quarterly Journal of IABSE, published since 1991, is the leading international journal of structural engineering dealing with all types of structures and materials. SEI offers its readers a unique blend of short profiles on recent structures, and longer, in-depth technical articles on research, development, design, construction and maintenance. Articles are written by practicing engineers and academia from around the world and reflect the high standards of IABSE. IABSE Peer Review stamps are given to papers that have passed through a highly selective review process and demonstrate a significant contribution to the state of structural engineering knowledge.To recognise contributions of the highest quality, an Outstanding Paper Award is presented each year.

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