Canadian Consulting Engineer

Effects of wind on traffic on Confederation Bridge being tested

This spring, engineers have been conducting the first on-site wind tests on Confederation Bridge in Prince Edward I...

April 25, 2008   Canadian Consulting Engineer

This spring, engineers have been conducting the first on-site wind tests on Confederation Bridge in Prince Edward Island. The bridge, which opened in 1997, is a 13-kilometre structure that spans the Northumberland Strait, linking P.E.I. with mainland New Brunswick.
High winds force the closing of the crossing to transport trucks and buses on average 50 times a year. If the wind speed is higher than 70 kilometres an hour the bridge is closed. The longest closure was 26 hours.
Researchers from the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory at the University of Western Ontario were taking an empty transport truck and tour bus equipped with sensors across the bridge. The tests were to quantify how the vehicles’ stability was affected to determine the appropriate wind speed limits.
The Transport Canada web site says that currently the decision on whether to restrict traffic takes into consideration wind speeds, wind gusts and wind direction. The hierarchy of restrictions commences with a speed reduction, then a restriction of certain high-sided vehicles, the restriction of all high sided vehicles and finally, closure to all vehicles.
Designed by Stantec (Barry Lester, P.Eng.) and J. Muller International, Confederation Bridge is the longest bridge over ice covered waters in the world. It is 11 metres wide and carries two lanes of traffic and an emergency shoulder for each direction of traffic. Strait Crossing Development owns and operates it as a toll road.
The project won the Schreyer Award in the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards in 1998, the top mark of recognition for a Canadian engineering project.


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