Regarded as “the World’s Highest Truss Bridge”, the Phil G. McDonald Bridge is a 2,180-foot long deck truss carrying Interstate 64 over Glade Creek near Beckley, West Virginia. The deck truss is fracture critical, has a main span of 784 feet and is supported on voided rectangular piers that are 340 feet in height. The bridge stands 670 feet above Glade Creek. TRC was retained by the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, to perform bi-annual NBIS inspections of this bridge as part of West Virginia’s 6-Year Inspection Program.
A complete “hands-on” inspection was performed on all components of the bridge. Due to the extreme height of the structure and depth of the deck truss, a “UB-60” snooper and a “Skyclimber” inspection basket was employed to inspect the various superstructure components of the bridge. Each abutment and the lower portions of the piers were inspected from the ground and by free climbing.
As a separate project, TRC was retained to complete a comprehensive load rating of all of the gusset plates for this structure that involved a field inspection of the gusset plates to verify size, a truss analysis to determine the forces in the gusset plates, gusset plate rating calculations, and a summary report. A subsequent rehabilitation design effort for the entire structure was also undertaken which involved instrumentation of the bridge with thermocouples and survey prisms to monitor the bridge’s movement. Completed under an accelerated schedule, rehabilitation plans were developed for bearing replacements, deck joint repair and replacement, various steel repairs, substructure concrete crack and spall repairs, and deck repairs.
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