Cable Crisis

This side bar article is a case study of the rehabilitation and strengthening of the Lake Maracaibo Bridge (formerly the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge). Considered to be one of the longest prestresed concrete bridges in the world when it opened in 1962, a collision with a ship in 1964, caused serious cable damage. Mono cable design was used in the replacement of 32 cables, all of which received extra corrosion protection via bitumen-soaked hessian wrap sheathed in galvanized sheet steel. By 1980, however, severe corrosion was observed after the break of one cable. The cause was attributed to tropical marine conditions. Emergency strengthening provisions followed. During the rehabilitation and strengthening several more cables on other main spans failed after replacement cables were set in place, leading to significant design changes to the main cable replacements. After two years of rehabilitation work (at a cost of US$50 million), inspectors discovered inadequate corrosion resistance in the cables, as corrosion was seen in both the cables and the anchorages. Moreover, major differences of up to 30% were observed in individual cable tensions, resulting in a major retensioning project.


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  • Accession Number: 01046496
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 15 2007 4:34PM