Canadian Consulting Engineer

Shenley Bridge in Quebec Built With Sandwich Plate System

November 1, 2004
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Sandwich Plate System (SPS) was used in the fall of 2003 to build the Shenley Bridge in Quebec, Canada. It is a major innovation in the field of heavy engineering.

The Sandwich Plate System (SPS) was used in the fall of 2003 to build the Shenley Bridge in Quebec, Canada. It is a major innovation in the field of heavy engineering.

The SPS system consists of two steel plates bonded to a solid elastomer core. The elastomer provides continuous support to the plates, precludes local plate buckling and minimizes the need for stiffeners.

When floodwaters swept away a number of bridges in Quebec in the summer of 2003, Transports Qubec and the municipality of St-Martin opted to use SPS to rebuild one of them. The technology was supplied by Solicor, a business unit of the Canam Manac Group. The system cut the project schedule compared to a concrete deck alternative by a significant amount of time. Despite adverse weather conditions, it took just 14 days to build, erect, complete and test the Shenley Bridge.

The Shenley Bridge deck is 74 ft. long by 23 ft. wide (22.5 m x 8 m). It is composed of 10 SPS panels: eight measuring 7.87 x 23 ft. (2.4 m x 7 m) and two measuring 5.4 x 23 ft.(1.6 m x 7 m) supported by three girders. The new bridge is roughly 60% lighter than its concrete counterpart (37 tons vs. 96 tons). Its sandwich plate system consists of two 1/4* steel plates separated by a 1-1/2* elastomer core. The flexural stiffness and strength of its sandwich plate was tailored to meet its particular static and dynamic structural requirements by selecting appropriate thicknesses for the sandwich elements.

“The use of SPS allowed a weight reduction of over 40% compared with the original design,” says Richard B. Vincent, vice president of research and development for Canam Manac. “Concrete formwork was not required, allowing the faster bridge erection than with traditional methods.”

Roger Dorton, P. Eng. of Buckland & Taylor, a bridge consulting engineering firm based in Vancouver, says: “The speed with which this bridge was erected was impressive. SPS has the potential to make considerable savings by using pre-fabricated panels and simply bolting and/or welding them together on site. The success of the Shenley Bridge project augurs well for the application of SPS decks to long span bridges, where the weight saving will have an even greater impact.”

Extensive tests were conducted on the SPS bridge deck in the field for Transports Qubec and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to prove the static and dynamic behaviour of the technology. Similar newly built bridge designs were subject to a detailed test program this summer at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Virginia State University in the U.S. where preliminary indications are good (a complete report will be released late this year). A test program for bridge repair using SPS technology is under way at Rheinisch-Westfalischen Technische Hochschule in Germany.

The technology was developed over 10 years by Intelligent Engineering under the guidance of Lloyd’s Register and in collaboration with BASF AG. The Canam Manac Group has signed an agreement with Intelligent Engineering to fabricate and market the product throughout Canada, the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean.

To date, Intelligent Engineering has completed 39 SPS commercial projects across four continents. There are now over a quarter of a million square feet in service around the globe.

Article provided by Canam Manac Group and Solicor, Boucherville, Quebec, tel. 450-641-4000/1-866-506-4000;, Contact: Annie Bollard.


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