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Bridge Launching

ISBN 978-0-7277-5997-9

ICE Publishing: All rights reserved

Chapter 1

The rst prestressed concrete (PC) bridge was built in 1941. From the end of World War II
onwards, PC bridge construction developed quickly, thanks to the pioneers of the new technol-
ogy: Guyon, Freyssinet, Leonhardt, Magnel, Morandi, Morsch and Ross, among others.

The design of most of these new bridges was limited to isostatic or poorly redundant systems,
because analysis of hyperstatic systems was not possible with the means of calculation available.
For many years, the basic criterion in the design of PC bridges was to ensure the possibility of
simple structural analysis. So, multispan bridges cast on falsework utilised the simple support
scheme, the rst balanced cantilever bridges in the 1950s were hinged at midspan, and the
rst PC decks built with movable scaffolding systems in the 1960s were supported at the piers
or articulated at the counterexure points. Most of the PC bridges of the post-war period were
also designed to minimise the quantities of structural materials.

From the 1960s onwards, the extraordinary progress in computing techniques extended the
possibilities of analysis of hyperstatic structures. The technological maturity of prestressing led
to lighter and more ductile structures with an enhanced capability of resisting temporary construc-
tion stresses. The improved knowledge of materials stimulated technological innovation, and
materials with higher performance found intelligent use and adequate processing methods.
Increasing labour costs amplied the labour component of the construction cost of new bridges,
and new construction methods were developed to rationalise production, regularise quality,
increase the erection rate, and ensure the safety of workers and the public.

The creative thinking during these decades led to the development of several construction
methods that ensured the competitiveness of PC over steel construction. At the same time,
however, the lower cost of high-quality hot-rolled steel plates, better workshop organisation,
new splicing techniques and new eld assembly methods extended the use of steelconcrete
composite bridges to spans that previously were the domain of PC bridges. New types of box
girders combining PC slabs and steel corrugated-plate webs were also developed to address
these borderline spans. This further stimulated research and created transdisciplinary connections
between different technologies.

New construction methods took advantage of the recent advances in technology to widen the eld
of application of already familiar techniques and to reduce the labour component of the cost of
bridge construction. Structures can be moved, but this requires a different way of thinking about
them, and the availability of suitable technology. So, although the idea of launching a bridge is not
new (think of a tree trunk in Palaeolithic technology) and numerous steel bridges were launched in
the 19th century, launching PC bridges was made possible one century later by the availability of a
new low-friction materials such as poly-tetrauoroethylene (PTFE) (Teon).

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Bridge Launching

For many decades, the light weight of steel structures had permitted their launch by means of
winches and lubricated wooden skids, with frictional loads that, although considerable, did not
cause excessive stresses in the piers or require expensive launch equipment. The exural efciency
of the steel girders and the ability of the material to indifferently resist tensile and compressive
stresses facilitated launching and avoided overdesign. Launching does offer several advantages
over in-air erection; however, compared with ground crane assembly, the costs of launching
were often higher due to the availability of only one working point, and launching was initially
limited to bridges to be located high above the ground or in inaccessible areas.

In the eyes of the PC bridge pioneers, some of the disadvantages of launch technology were less
critical, and others were even promising. Construction duration and yard organisation for a PC
bridge are different from those for a steel bridge, and the cost of labour and equipment is so high
that every possible alternative must be examined. Launching of a PC deck built on the ground
promised savings in both labour and equipment, but practical application was limited by the
weight of the deck and the low tensile strength of concrete.

These obstacles were gradually overcome. Advances in prestressing technology lightened the
deck, made it more exible and ductile and less subject to cracking, simplied splicing of tendons,
and allowed the introduction and removal of prestressing according to need. The commercial
availability of personal computers and structural analysis programs simplied analysis of the
continuous beam in the multiple support congurations of launching. The development of
steelTeon skids offered a substantial reduction in launch friction, and technological advances
in electro-hydraulic equipment offered the possibility of moving huge masses with due precision.

None of this was available in 1950, when a small three-span PC bridge was built in France on the
two banks of a river, and launched on a full-length falsework over the river for midspan closure.
The 56 m Vaux-sur-Seine Bridge was the rst launched bridge, and the rst bridge to use external
continuity prestressing (AFGC, 1999).

The year 1959 saw the rst attempt to launch precast concrete segments, on a 280 m long, four-
span bridge over the Ager River in Germany (Baur and Leonhardt, 1963). The deck was
assembled on a full-length timber falsework. Precast segments cast behind the abutment were
skidded into position along the falsework by means of a wooden rail lubricated with engine oil
(Figure 1.1). The joints between the 9.5 m segments were cast in-place, and long external tendons
within the box cell were tensioned from the end diaphragms to provide post-tensioning.

The Ager Bridge experience suggested that the use of falsework should be avoided and the
completed deck should be launched over the piers. This concept was applied in 1961 to the Rio
Caroni Bridge in Venezuela (Baur et al., 1966; Fernandez, 1965). The 480 m deck was assembled
full-length behind the abutment by joining precast segments with wet joints. On completion of
assembly, the deck was post-tensioned with a large external U-tendon within the box cell to
obtain a centroidal force. The tendon was anchored to the front end diaphragm and deviated
around a semi-cylindrical concrete block at the rear deck end. The deviation block was then
jacked away from the end diaphragm to generate the required prestressing force.

A steel truss extension was applied to the front end of the deck to control negative bending in the
front cantilever, and one temporary pier was erected in every span to halve the launch span
(Figure 1.2). The deck was launched by means of movable bearings sliding along low-friction

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Figure 1.1 Precast segments of the Ager River Bridge. (Reproduced with permission from ASCE)

Figure 1.2 Launch of the Rio Caroni Bridge. (Reproduced with permission from ASCE)

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Bridge Launching

surfaces applied to the pier caps; at the end of each launch stroke, therefore, the deck had to be
jacked to relocate the bearings.

On launch completion, the external tendon was made eccentric by lowering the midspan deviation
points and by lifting the pier deviation points. During these operations, the jacks at the rear
deviation block were progressively retracted to keep the pull in the tendon constant. The
tendon was nally attached to the inner face of the webs and protected with pre-pack concrete.

Adjusting the geometry of the loaded tendon was a complex and expensive operation, and this led
to the idea of combining permanent axial tendons designed for the launch stresses with integrative
draped tendons applied at the end of launching. This concept characterises most launched bridges
since then. Full-length assembly of a precast segmental deck behind the abutment also showed
limitations, and this led to the idea of match-casting longer deck segments behind the abutment
and progressively launching the deck. Launching thus became incremental.

The incremental launching method was applied for the rst time in 1965 for the construction of a
PC bridge over the River Inn in Kufstein, Germany. The deck was cast segmentally behind the
abutment, on a platform located along the projection of the bridge axis. After curing the new seg-
ment, the deck was pushed forward to clear the casting cell. Another segment was match-cast
against the rear deck end, and the process (adding a new segment and launching the entire
deck) was repeated until deck completion. The use of multiple temporary piers avoided the
need for launch prestressing in this bridge (Figure 1.3). The launch stresses were controlled
with reinforcement, and parabolic prestressing was applied at the end of launching.

In the following years, incremental launching construction was improved in multiple aspects. Low-
friction neopreneTeon (neo-on) pads are now inserted between the deck and xed launch
bearings to avoid deck lifting. Modular launch noses control shear and negative bending in the
front deck region, in combination with specialised schemes of launch prestressing. The thrust devices
offer reliable and smooth electro-hydraulic operations synchronised by programmable logic control-
lers (PLCs). Fast algorithms have been developed to analyse the launch stresses in the continuous
beam, and to provide time-dependent stress envelopes that simplify structural design.

After a few years, during which time the new technology moved towards maturity, incremental
launching construction began to compete with balanced cantilever erection of long PC
viaducts. For different reasons, the advantages of rapid deck construction in a xed location
found interest among bridge owners and contractors. The launched bridges can be rapidly built
over active highways and railways without impact on trafc, are perfectly compatible with
urban environments and sensitive areas, and ensure the safety of workers and the public. Fixed
logistics diminish the construction cost, enhance quality, and allow for continuous operations
in bad weather (Rosignoli, 2013).

Although the incremental launching method was originally conceived for highway bridges a
few hundred metres long, it has been applied to shorter and longer highway and railway bridges,
in ingenious applications all over the world. The rst launched bridges of the French TGV
high-speed railway lines date back to 1997. Incremental launching thus became one of the most
competitive construction methods for PC bridges of medium length and simple geometry. The
number of PC bridges launched in the 20th century exceeds 2500, and their total deck surface
exceeds 3 million square metres (AFGC, 1999).

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Figure 1.3 Launch of the third box girder of the Kufstein bridge: the rectangular piers are temporary.
(Reproduced with permission from ASCE)

The last decades have seen ingenious applications of the launch techniques: curved decks with
tight radius, decks launched over arches, cable-stayed decks launched symmetrically from the
opposite abutments for midspan closure or cast on temporary supports and rotated into position,
and continuous decks launched over temporary piers and suspended from pylons or tied arches on
launch completion.

The technological maturity of incremental launching opened new perspectives for monolithic
handling of heavy and ultra-heavy structures. Although incremental launching is still the most
common of these construction methods and its evolution has inuenced the development of the
others, monolithic launching, symmetrical launching, rotation, and jacking and skidding have
acquired their own roles for specic applications (Rosignoli, 1998). From the 1970s on, hundreds
of bridge decks have been lifted, lowered, rotated, launched or skidded all over the world.

In the eld of steel constructions, a better knowledge of instability and the commercial availability
of high-grade steels with reliable mechanical properties have led to lighter steel girders that are
easier to launch. Non-stiffened webs are used to maximise robotised welding with prole-tracking
equipment, and control of web buckling required improvements in the launch bearings. Light
launch noses and specialised systems for transfer of the thrust force are also available.

In spite of the advances in launch technology, the difference in cost between reinforced-concrete
slabs and orthotropic steel decking systems still suggests the use of reinforced concrete for the

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Bridge Launching

deck slab of medium-span bridges. In a continuous beam, controlling deck slab cracking in
the negative bending regions requires oversized longitudinal reinforcement and discontinuous
segmental casting sequences that increase costs and construction duration of the deck slab.
This led to the idea of incrementally launching a continuous concrete slab over prelaunched
steel girders.

Research into PC also led to external prestressing. When external tendons are used, the web thick-
ness can be designed for the principal compressive stress allowed by the design standards for the
serviceability limit state (SLS). Lighter webs diminish the weight of the cross-section and enhance
its exural efciency. When shear dictates the minimum web thickness, steel webs offer a higher
strength-to-density ratio than concrete webs. This led to the concept of prestressed composite box
girders, where two reinforced concrete slabs resist bending, and deviation of external tendons
reduces the shear force in the webs down to levels that can be resisted by corrugated steel plates.
Compared with a PC box girder, a prestressed composite box girder with steel corrugated-plate
webs offers savings in weight, concrete, reinforcement and prestressing. Compared with a non-
prestressed composite deck, these new sections require only a quarter of the steelwork. Finally,
advance in the launch technologies for PC and steel bridges led to the incremental launching
construction of the rst prestressed composite bridges.

1.1. Introduction to bridge launching

Several construction methods for steel and PC bridges take advantage of the resistance of parts
of the structure during construction. Many structural components are designed for permanent
stresses that are higher than those reached during construction, and this temporary overstrength
is exploited to simplify construction and to reduce the cost of construction equipment (Rosignoli,

In PC bridges, the material is inherently unable to resist signicant tensile stress. Prestressing does
control the principal tensile stress; however, stress adjustment is achieved using tendons designed
for the distribution of internal actions to be corrected, and whose alignment can be modied only
by expensive operations. Steel plates resist indifferently tensile and compressive stresses; this
simplicity, however, is only apparent, as compressive stresses may cause instability. In both
cases, therefore, design for permanent actions may be inadequate for self-resisting construction
if the erection stresses are very different from the nal ones.

Design for self-resisting construction depends on the level and distribution of the transient
erection stresses, which mostly depend on the weight of deck and erection equipment and on
the transient structural congurations during construction. When the deck is built with the
same static system as the permanent structure, the application of superimposed dead load results
in a quasi-proportional increase in the internal actions at the end of construction. Live load, wind,
thermal gradients and support settlement may result in non-proportional increases or reductions,
but this second type of effect is superimposed on the basic effect of dead load.

Variations in the static system have a more profound inuence, especially when they cause rever-
sal of bending in regions of the structure that are stably loaded on completion of construction.
During launching, each deck section is a support section, and then a midspan section. A perma-
nent midspan section crossed by prestressing tendons at the lower edge is hardly compatible with
negative bending. A permanent support section crossed by prestressing tendons at the upper edge
will hardly resist positive bending. Modifying the alignment of tensioned tendons is expensive,

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and less eccentric tendon layouts are therefore used to enhance the capability of the cross-section
to sustain these temporary load conditions, which results in a less efcient nal design of pre-
stressing. Similar conclusions can be drawn for the ange plates of a steel girder.

The transient stresses of self-resisting construction depend on the self-weight and the static system,
and both these are easy to control. Self-weight should be as low as possible during launching. The
concrete slab of composite bridges is 7085% of the deck weight, and is therefore cast or applied
to the steel girder after launch completion. For PC and prestressed composite box girders, launch
noses are used to control the launch stresses in the front deck region, temporary piers may be used
to shorten the launch spans, and the side wings of wide decks may be cast in-place using forming
trolleys after launching the central box core (Rosignoli, 2013).

1.2. Launching of PC bridges

PC decks can be moved in many different ways. Vertical jacking, monolithic launching, symmetri-
cal launching with midspan closure, lateral skidding, rotation and combinations of these methods
are used in bridges having one or a few spans, while incremental launching is used for multispan
continuous beams. Compared with traditional construction methods, incremental launching
combines the advantages of in-place casting and precast segmental construction, and is also
revolutionary from many other points of view.

g Building the deck on the ground is extremely safe for the workers. No work activities are
performed on the deck during launching, and this is also safer for the public travelling
beneath the bridge. No footbridges or falsework are required between the piers, with clear
advantages when the bridge spans a river or fjord (Figure 1.4), or a highway, railway or
inaccessible place, or presents reduced clearances.

Figure 1.4 Skye Bridge. (Reproduced with permission from ASCE)

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Bridge Launching

g The deck is built in a xed, sheltered facility. Bad weather does not affect the erection
rate, each operation is simpler and safer than on falsework or at the tip of a cantilever,
and production can be organised in parallel rather than serial processes. The learning
curve is short, repetitive tasks facilitate training of inexperienced crews, task specialisation
enhances productivity, and mechanised production diminishes the labour demand, so that
a 15-person crew in total is typically enough for weekly casting cycles of 1525 m
g Special construction equipment is simple and inexpensive, easy to ship and assemble, easy
to use, and easy to recondition for different projects. A standard set of equipment includes
a casting cell, a thrust system, and a launch nose for control of the launch stresses.
g Logistics and plant are concentrated in one small and compact facility, which diminishes
site investment and overheads. A rail-mounted tower crane facilitates handling of materials,
supervision of personnel is easy, and minimal transportation means are required. Logistics
is stationary and does not follow production, and most construction activities are
performed within the casting yard (AFGC, 1999).
g The length of the deck segments varies from one-fth of the span to full span.
Compared with precast segmental construction, segment production is easier, the joints
have through reinforcement and are never opened, and no transportation facilities or
erection gantries are needed (Rosignoli, 2013). Compared with balanced cantilever
in-place casting, launching is faster and requires only one casting cell instead of
multiple pairs of form travellers, logistics does not follow production, and deck
construction and geometry control are denitely simpler. From the perspective of
quality, the number of construction joints is one order-of-magnitude smaller than with
the other alternatives.

Incremental launching requires the use of specialised equipment and the construction of a casting
yard behind one of the abutments. These costs do not vary much with the length of bridge, and
incremental launching tends therefore to be more cost-effective for long bridges. These obser-
vations, however, do not consider the requirements of minimal impact construction (Ontario,
2006). Because of the minimal impact on the area under the bridge, launching is the rst-choice
technology for new crossings over active highways and railways, as well as for their replacement,
on bridge lengths of 100150 m and longer.

The extensive use of launch technology for replacement or duplication of overpasses over active
highways and railways requires a modular organisation of production that limits the set-up cost of
the launch facilities. Short PC decks assembled full-length from standardised precast segments,
prestressed full-length, and launched into position in one operation, offer several advantages.
Deck construction is independent of pier construction, as precast segments can be stored else-
where. The use of labour and specialised equipment is optimised in repetitive operations in the
precasting facility and the launch yards, and modular launch equipment is inexpensive and
easy to assemble and dismantle. Rapid eld operations minimise construction duration, and
launching may be combined with skidding to build the bridge alongside an existing crossing
without encroaching on the approach embankments. An existing deck to be demolished can
also be skidded laterally, jacked to create the clearance for launching of an underbridge, and
rolled along the underbridge for incremental demolition behind the abutment.

Monolithic launching can be a very competitive solution for replacement or duplication of

crossings over active highways and railways, without impact on trafc. Bridges with regular

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standardised geometry and whose length does not justify the investment for a self-launching
gantry are optimum candidates (Rosignoli, 2013). In larger-scale projects, a precasting facility
can simultaneously feed self-launching gantry erection lines and launching facilities for enhanced
depreciation of investment and planning exibility.

1.3. Launching of steel girders

In recent decades, many factors have increased the competitiveness of composite bridges and
reduced their lower threshold of use to spans of about 50 m, which previously were the dominion
of PC box girders. Progress in iron metallurgy led to hot-rolled high-grade steels of reliable
mechanical properties. The development of design standards based on the strength of materials
and on load and resistance factors led to a better evaluation of structural capacity. The progress
of assembly techniques replaced riveted splices with bolted or welded ones. In recent years, this
evolution has been accelerated further by the cost stagnation of steel plates and the general
increase in labour costs.

The qualitative advantages of concretesteel composite bridges are numerous. The high tensile
and shear strength of steel plates combines with the low-cost compressive strength of concrete.
Rapidity of construction and the possibility of building most of the structure in a workshop
improve planning and risk management. The long durability resulting from different and
renewable protective treatments, and the possibility to modify the structure over time to adapt
it to new use conditions, further enhance the exibility of design. Finally, the presence of few
structural elements, the function of which are clearly recognisable, enhances the architectural
quality of the structure.

The optimum eld of utilisation of a composite section is the simply supported beam. In the
negative bending regions of a continuous beam, the axial compressive stress in the bottom anges
requires thick plates or closely spaced stiffeners to prevent instability, and the tensile stress in the
concrete slab requires plenty of longitudinal reinforcement for crack control. The use of a bottom
concrete slab in the negative bending regions for double composite action is competitive only for
long spans. In most cases, therefore, the cross-section is open, and only aesthetic considerations or
particular design requirements justify, in straight bridges, the higher cost of closing the girder with
a steel bottom plate.

These limitations also inuence the launch of composite bridges, as the dispersal of support
reactions within the webs and the negative bending stresses affect every cross-section of the
girder as it passes over a pier. As the weight of the concrete slab is 7085% of the total weight
of the cross-section, the steel girder is launched rst, and the concrete slab is assembled or cast
in-place on the girder on launch completion. This solution reduces the launch stresses in the
steel girder and the permanent tensile stresses in the slab.

The concrete slab may be precast full-depth, cast in-place on conventional forms or left-in-place
forms, cast in-place monolithically with a forming carriage, or incrementally launched over the
steel girder. Full-depth precasting technology is undergoing a rapid evolution, this being driven by
the acceleration of minimal impact bridge construction, although large-scale applications are still
relatively rare. Manual form handling is labour intensive, risky and time consuming, and forming
carriages or left-in-place forms are typically used for in-place casting. The investment for a forming
carriage and its shipping and assembly costs limit the use of this type of equipment to long bridges
(Rosignoli, 2013), and short- and medium-length bridges are processed with left-in-place forms.

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Bridge Launching

Precast concrete panels for two-layer slabs can bridge long transverse spans between the girders but
are often designed so as not to contribute to the carrying capacity of the slab, and their weight there-
fore increases the weight of steelwork. Precast planks are also expensive and difcult to handle,
especially when the piers are tall or the area under the bridge is not accessible.

As an alternative to in-place casting, a continuous concrete slab may be cast segmentally behind
one abutment and launched incrementally over the steel girder to the nal position. The slab
includes match-cast segments with continuous reinforcement, and may be prestressed in the
negative bending regions of the bridge. Casting of a new segment is followed by launching of
the entire slab along the steel girder, and this sequence is repeated until slab completion. The
slab is nally connected to the steel girder to achieve composite action.

Incremental slab launching is an interesting construction method. The casting cell is less expensive
than a forming carriage. Slab casting is a continuous process, while a forming carriage must be
shuttled back and forth along the girder to cast the span segments rst and the pier segments
in a second pass to minimise the permanent tensile stress in the negative bending regions. Cage
prefabrication and concrete handling are much simpler. Slab launching avoids impacts on the
area beneath the bridge, reduces shrinkage and creep cracking, simplies application of longitudi-
nal prestressing, improves durability and aesthetic quality, and reduces risks to workers.

Incremental launching of steel girders has evolved into several derived methods. Single spans are
assembled behind the abutment and launched frontally into position with the help of temporary
piers, long launch noses, or a front set of self-propelled modular transporters. Frontal launching
has been used for many tied arches, where the edge girders of the composite deck tie the arch, sup-
port the concrete slab, and act as runway beams during launching. Three-span bridges have been
built by assembling two deck halves alongside existing highways, railways or navigable channels,
and rotating them over the obstruction for midspan closure. Also in these cases the concrete slab is
typically cast in-place on launch completion.

1.4. Launching of prestressed composite box girders

In spite of its advantages, a composite continuous beam has some limitations. Incremental
launching construction requires launching the steel girder rst and placing or launching the
concrete slab later. Slab launching is rarely used, and in-place casting and placement of full-
depth precast panels involve technical and logistic challenges. The difcult casting conditions
of a bottom slab also discourage the use of double composite action.

Construction of a concrete bottom slab would be much simpler in a xed casting cell behind an
abutment. This led to conceiving box girders composed of two concrete slabs and two steel webs,
these being launched after completion of the cross-section. The presence of two concrete slabs
requires the application of prestressing, and concrete slabs, steel webs and polygonal prestressing
tendons are combined in new typologies of prestressed composite sections.

In these sections, axial forces in the concrete slabs resist bending, tendon deviation reduces the
shear force, and the steel webs resist the residual shear force. The structural behaviour depends
on the shear distribution between steel webs and prestressing tendons. The high strength-to-
cost ratio of the prestressing strand suggests shaping the tendons so as to resist the shear force
produced by permanent loads and one-half of the live loads, such that the steel webs resist only
the shear variations due to the presence or absence of live loads.


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It is thus possible to obtain slender and efcient cross-sections, even if construction stages in
which the self-weight shear is not reduced by draped tendons become particularly delicate. Pre-
stressed composite sections do involve several launch challenges.

1.5. Symbols
The symbols listed below have been used in the text. Some passages have required further
symbols, described in the respective paragraphs.

a distance between web mid-bres measured at the top slab mid-bre

af longitudinal projection of the fold in a corrugated plate
A cross-sectional area
Aa,eq equivalent cross-sectional area of the assembly
Ab area of the bottom slab or ange, area of the braces of a temporary pier, net area of a
stressed bar
Ac cross-sectional area of the concrete slab
Ac,eff cross-sectional area of the concrete slab within the effective width
Af net cross-sectional area of each ange
Aj cross-sectional area of the nosedeck joint
Ap cross-sectional area of each pillar of a temporary pier
Ar total area of longitudinal reinforcement within the effective width of the concrete
As cross-sectional area of the steel girder
Aw cross-sectional area of a web
b distance between web mid-bres measured at the bottom slab mid-bre, breadth of
concrete in cross-section, breadth of a cast-iron roll, ange width, ange segment
bb breadth of the bottom ange
bf width of the longitudinal folds in a corrugated plate
bnf breadth of the neo-on plate
bt breadth of the top ange
B total breadth of the top slab
c sloped depth of the web
cf sloped width of the folds in a corrugated plate
Cb equivalent moment factor
Cd cross-sectional property related to warping
Cf friction coefcient
Cf,i kinetic friction coefcient at launch bearing i
Cf,i breakaway friction coefcient at launch bearing i
Cf,L friction coefcient of the contact plates of the Eberspacher launcher
Ci constant
Ct torsional stiffness
d geometrical breadth (from web mid-bre) of the side wing of a box girder
db diameter of a stressed bar
db,min minimum diameter of a stressed bar
dc distance of the compression ange from the cross-sectional centroid
dcs diameter of the contact surface of the anchor nut
dh diameter of the hole
dt distance of the tension ange from the cross-sectional centroid


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Bridge Launching

Dx longitudinal exural stiffness of a cross-sectional plate

Dz transverse exural stiffness of a unit length of web
e eccentricity, lateral midspan deection
ea eccentricity of the additional prestressing in the front deck region
ed downward eccentricity of the resulting force
em efciency of material
eu upward eccentricity of the resulting force
E elastic modulus
Eb elastic modulus of the braces of a temporary pier
Ec elastic modulus of concrete
Ec,h mean elastic modulus of concrete during the heating period
Ec,c mean elastic modulus of concrete during the cooling period
En elastic modulus of the launching nose
Es elastic modulus of steel
Ex,eff effective longitudinal modulus of elasticity of a steel corrugated plate
fc,i cube compressive strength of concrete at i days of curing
fck 28-day characteristic compressive strength of concrete
ft tensile strength of concrete
ft,eff effective tensile strength of concrete
ftm mean tensile strength of concrete
fu ultimate strength of steel
fy characteristic yield strength of steel
fy,d characteristic design yield strength of steel
F general force, prestressing force
Fa additional prestressing force in the front deck region
Fb longitudinal tensile force in a stressed bar
Fcc friction resistance opposed by the casting cell
Ff total frictional resistance
Fg longitudinal force due to the gradient of the launch surface
Fh hemi-symmetrical force
Fi0 breakaway force at support i
Fl lower prestressing force in the nosedeck joint section
Flb,d design lock/brake force
Fmax maximum prestressing force
Fp pressing force for plate corrugation
Fpar parabolic prestressing force
Fs pull in the stays, longitudinal axial force in the slab
Ft thrust force
Ft,d design thrust force
Fu upper prestressing force in the nosedeck joint section
Geff effective shear modulus of steel
Gs shear modulus of steel
h geometrical depth of cross-section (distance between the mid-bres of slabs or anges)
hc depth of the cross-sectional central core, average thickness of concrete
hf depth of the fold in a corrugated plate
hm height of the mast
hw net height of the web plate measured clear between anges
H total depth of the cross-section (distance between the outer edges)


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Hw total depth of the steel girder (distance between the outer edges)
I moment of inertia about the centroid of the cross-section
Ic,f lateral moment of inertia of the compression ange
Ij moment of inertia of the nosedeck joint cross-section
In moment of inertia of the launching nose
Is cross-sectional moment of inertia of the steel girder
Iy lateral moment of inertia about the vertical (weak) axis
Iy,eff effective lateral moment of inertia
Iy,t lateral moment of inertia of the tension ange
J cross-sectional constant of torsion
k beam on elastic foundation (BEF) modulus of foundation, generic coefcient or
kcr,g buckling coefcient for global buckling
kcr,l buckling coefcient for local buckling
ki generic coefcient or constant
kT torsional stiffness of elastic support
kV vertical stiffness of elastic support
kw warping constant
Ki constant or coefcient
L length of the span
La total nut-to-nut length of the assembly
Lb length of the end span of the continuous beam, length of patch loading along the
bottom ange edge, total length of a launch bearing, spacing of the lateral restraint
points along the girder where twist is prevented, length of a stressed bar
Lcr critical length of the front cantilever
Ln length of the launching nose
Lnf length of the neo-on plate
L0 effective length, length of the equivalent hinged rod
Lw length of patch loading along the web edge
m inverse (1/n) of Poissons ratio
M bending moment
MB cantilever moment at the leading support prior to nose landing
B negative moment at the leading support at the end of launch
Mcr critical moment for lateraltorsional buckling
Md design value of the bending moment
Mr ultimate exural capacity of the cross-section
My rst-yield moment of the cross-section
n number of items
nc number of columns of a temporary pier
nr number of braced members
ns number of bracing panels of a temporary pier
p uniformly distributed service load
ph hemi-symmetrical component of the unit load
ppar uniformly distributed load produced by parabolic prestressing
psdl uniformly distributed superimposed dead load
pt pitch of the thread
P axial force in a member
PE Eulers critical load


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Bridge Launching

Pr ultimate patch-load capacity

q uniformly distributed self-weight
qn uniformly distributed self-weight of the launching nose
qs uniformly distributed self-weight of the steel structure of a composite bridge
Q self-weight of the deck
r radius of gyration of the cross-section about the centroidal axis, radius of curvature,
radius of a cast-iron roll, uniform friction load
Rb local buckling strength
Rd design value of the support reaction
Rh hemi-symmetrical component of the support reaction
RI reaction at support I
Rr ultimate support reaction applied through the bottom ange plate
Rs symmetrical component of the support reaction
Rt radius of curvature of the equivalent tendon
Rv,i vertical support reaction of the bearing i
Rv,L support reaction at the Eberspacher launcher
Ry local yielding strength
Sx section modulus
Sx,m modied section modulus
{S}j state array in the section j
{SR}J reduced state array of the support section J
t time, thickness
tb thickness of the bottom slab or ange
tt thickness of the top slab or ange
tw web thickness
T torsional moment, temperature
[T ]kj transfer matrix between the cross-sections j and k
[R]KJ reduced transfer matrix between the support sections J and K
Tu ultimate tensile force in headed stud connector
V shear force
Vb lateral shear force in the bottom slab
Vr ultimate shear capacity of the cross-section, nominal static ultimate shear strength of
headed stud connector
Vr,eff effective nominal static ultimate shear strength of headed stud connector in the
presence of tension
Vt lateral shear force in the top slab
Vw shear force in the web
W vertical misalignment of launch bearings
Wh hemi-symmetrical component of vertical misalignment of launch bearings
Wm symmetrical component of vertical misalignment of launch bearings
Wp plastic work for a complete corrugation
Wr warping restraint
zl distance of the centroid from the lower edge
zu distance of the centroid from the upper edge
a angle, longitudinal gradient of the launch surface, coefcient of thermal expansion,
dimensionless progression of launch
acr critical dimensionless progression of launch
b angle, restraint coefcient, degree of compensation of parabolic prestressing


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D difference between two values

Dsp(t) loss of prestress at time t
1 axial strain
1cc creep strain of concrete
1cs shrinkage strain of concrete
f friction angle, creep coefcient, resistance factor, equivalent angular deviation from
fcr resistance factor for buckling failure
fi contemporaneity factor for the breakaway force of the launch bearing i
fs resistance factor for shear failure
w exural rotation
g specic weight, load factor, average shear angle
gs load factor for uncontrolled sliding
h vertical deection, imperfection constant
hd distortional component of the cross-section deformation
hpp vertical deection of the top of a permanent pier
htp vertical deection of the top of a temporary pier
ht torsional component of the cross-section deformation
l BEF characteristic length, slenderness ratio
ls BEF characteristic length for the calculation of distortional edge stresses
lw development ratio of the corrugated-plate web
mt friction coefcient of the thread
n Poissons ratio
q torsional rotation
r mass density
rf exural efciency of the cross-section
rs structural efciency of design, reinforcement ratio
s axial stress
sall axial stress limit at the serviceability limit state
sb axial stress generated by tightening in a stressed bar
sc compressive stress (positive)
scr critical buckling stress
scr,v critical vertical stress
sid ideal biaxial stress
sl longitudinal axial stress at the lower edge of the deck
slc linear contact pressure on a cast-iron roll
snf contact pressure on a neo-on plate
sp tensile stress in a prestressing tendon
sp,0 initial tensile stress in a tendon
sr residual tensile stress (negative)
ss tensile stress in reinforcement due to direct loading
ss,0 tensile stress in the reinforcement caused by negative bending acting on the
composite section, calculated neglecting concrete in tension
st tensile stress (negative)
su longitudinal axial stress at the upper edge of the deck
t tangential stress
tb tangential stress generated by torque in a stressed bar
tcr critical tangential stress for buckling


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Bridge Launching

tcr,d design critical tangential stress for buckling

tcr,g critical tangential stress for global buckling
tcr,i critical tangential stress for interactive buckling
tcr,l critical tangential stress for local buckling
td design ultimate tangential stress capacity
tT Timoshenkos critical tangential stress
ty nominal tangential stress at yielding
ty,d design tangential stress at yielding

AFGC (Association Francaise de Genie Civil) (1999) Guide des Ponts Pousses. Presses de
lecole nationale des ponts et chaussees, Paris, France, p. 240.
Baur W and Leonhardt F (1963) Die Agerbrucke. Die Bautechnik, September.
Baur W, Leonhardt F and Trah W (1966) Brucke uber den Rio Caroni, Venezuela. Beton und
Stahlbetonbau, February.
Fernandez A (1965) Construction dun pont sur le Caroni (Venezuela). Travaux, JulyAugust.
Ontario (2006) Incrementally Launched Post-Tensioned Concrete Bridge Design, May.
Rosignoli M (1998) Launched Bridges. ASCE Press, Reston, VA, USA.
Rosignoli M (2013) Bridge Construction Equipment. ICE Publishing, London, UK.


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