When an oversize vehicle struck the Colorado Bridge, which crosses the Libertadores Highway to the north of Santiago, it caused significant damage. The vehicle crashed into the beam, and caused the lower flange to detach over the centre of the beam, exposing both active and passive reinforcement. It was the first highway bridge beam replacement carried out by Freyssinet Chile.

  • Name of the owner
    Chilean Ministry of Public Works/ Ministerio de Obras Públicas
  • Name of the client
    Autopista Los Libertadores S.A
  • Delivery date of the project
    August 2016

Beam replacement was the only option

Further structural analysis led the engineer to conclude that the structural element could not be repaired and that replacement was the only option. But it was not possible to purchase an identical replacement as the product was no longer available, so Freyssinet Chile had to propose a new design prepared by the precast beam company, which had to be approved by the engineer and highway authorities before it could be manufactured.

The 27 m-long, 1.2 m-high precast, prestressed beam that was damaged was one of four that make up the west span of the two-span bridge. In order to replace it, part of the deck slab on that span also had to be demolished to allow the reinforcement to be cut, to free the beam from the remaining deck slab. The bridge is 55 m long in total, with a 12.6 m-wide superstructure formed of a 180 mm-thick deck slab.

  • 27
    Length of damaged beam (m)
  • 12.6
    Width of the superstructure (m)
  • 180
    Thickness of deck slab (mm)
Colorado bridge - Beam replacement plans

Deck repair plans

Freyssinet Chile was contracted to repair the deck as part of a wider programme of works on the highway. The first step was to safely remove the damaged beam; a one metre strip of the remaining deck was cut away along the edge and holes were made in the structure to allow lifting chains to be attached.

As part of the procedure, Freyssinet also opted to replace the bearings for this beam, in order to eliminate any potential problems that might have arisen through damage during the impact. A mobile crane was brought to the site to pick the damaged beam off the supports and place it on the side of the highway, and to lift the new beam into place.

Quick lift

The crane operation took around eight hours to complete; this procedure and the remaining work to repair the bridge deck was carried out with only one carriageway closed. Traffic was diverted to a contraflow on the other carriageway for around three weeks to enable the work to be carried out safely.

It was the first highway bridge beam replacement carried out by Freyssinet Chile.

Colorado bridge - Quick lift

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