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Fugro Conducts Geotechnical Study for US 51 Cairo Bridge Project

Fugro is undertaking a nearshore geotechnical study to facilitate the site investigation phase for the new US 51 Cairo Bridge in Ballard County, Kentucky. The existing bridge, constructed in 1936, connects Wickliffe, Kentucky, to Cairo, Illinois, over the Ohio River, and is a vital route for commercial truck traffic. However, the bridge’s narrow lanes and shoulders are inadequate for oversized or overweight loads, necessitating the construction of a more capable crossing.

Selected by consulting engineer Terracon, Fugro brings its extensive nearshore experience to the project. The study is being conducted from a third-party lift boat, which is specially equipped to operate in both shallow and deeper waters with minimal environmental impact. This vessel reached the site after an 8-day journey up the Mississippi River from Louisiana, ready to commence the crucial investigation.

The study involves a comprehensive examination of subsurface conditions within the project’s marine environment. Fugro’s experts are carrying out soil sampling, in situ testing, seismic cone penetration testing (SCPT), and downhole PS logging and analysis. The fieldwork, expected to last around two months, will see two drilling and two SCPT crews working in rotating shifts to ensure 24/7 operations.

To enhance efficiency, project data will be delivered to Terracon in near real-time via Fugro’s proprietary cloud-based solution. This enables rapid access to early results, allowing for timely adjustments to the work scope as needed. Stephen Williams, Director of Site Investigation for Fugro in the Americas, emphasized the importance of this approach, stating, “Fast and accurate geotechnical data and analysis is a critical component of any bridge project, and we’re proud to be contributing our nearshore expertise on the US 51 Cairo Bridge. Our streamlined approach, experienced team and advanced technologies will positively contribute to the overall site investigation, supporting a modern bridge design that will better serve today’s transportation needs with safety and sustainability in mind.”

With the current bridge struggling to meet the demands of modern transportation, this geotechnical study by Fugro marks a significant step towards a safer and more efficient crossing over the Ohio River. As fieldwork progresses, the insights gained from the subsurface conditions will play a pivotal role in shaping the design and construction of a new bridge that promises to better accommodate today’s commercial traffic needs.

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