Confederation Bridge Scour

The Confederation Bridge is the world’s longest bridge over ice cover across the Northumberland Strait and connects Prince Edward Island to the mainland. Scour protection was critical in this extreme environment for long term protection of this $1B bridge in the Canadian Maritimes.

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Strait Crossing Bridge Limited
Northumberland Strait, Canadian Maritimes
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Northumberland Strait, Canadian Maritimes

Project Highlights

The bridge design was completed before scour investigations began, requiring close work with the design-build team to understand constructability issues associated with scour protection requirements.

  • Fast-track project, design and construction completed in 4 years
  • 65 supporting piers
  • Max. water depth is 30m
  • Bridge exposed to harsh conditions (Waves – Hs/Tp up to 4.5m/10s; Currents – up to 2.5m/s; Ice – floes up to 1.2m thick, ridges with keel depths up to 15m)

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Project Challenges

  • Defining scour potential was difficult due to complex and variable seabed conditions.
  • Complex hydrodynamic flow conditions existed from the interaction of waves and currents within the pier geometry.
  • Difficult to calibrate new scour methodology in complex environment.
  • Validation of new scour methodology was critical to project success.

Baird Solutions

  • A new methodology was developed to estimate scour in complex materials.
  • Numerical and physical models magnified the conditions, resulting in efficient scour protection design.
  • An innovative method using scour data from a major storm event during construction was used.
  • A detailed scour monitoring program was designed and implemented.

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