Bridge of the Americas

Bridge of the Americas

bridge of the americas

TYLin provided engineering services for the rehabilitation and widening of the Bridge of the Americas in Panama.

Spanning the Pacific Ocean entryway to the Panama Canal, the Bridge of the Americas was completed in 1962 to carry Pan American Highway over the canal, significantly increase limited traffic volumes offered by two movable structures. For 42 years, it was the first and only fixed crossing between North and South America.

The 1,653-meter-long bridge consists of 343-meter suspended steel truss tied-arch main span supported by cantilever trusses, 11 steel truss approach spans ranging from 73 meters to 170 meters, and two 23-meter steel plate girder access spans. The substructure consists of reinforced concrete two-column bents. 

Since 1995, TYLin has provided extensive engineering services to the Ministry of Public Works focused on the rehabilitation and widening of this iconic structure. Maintenance of vehicular traffic was critical on several contracts when the bridge was the only highway link between the two continents. 

To increase traffic capacity, the bridge was expanded to four lanes along the entire length of the structure. At the time, only the three central arch spans were four lanes, with the original approach span providing three-lane access. TYLin served as the Owner’s Engineer, providing independent design check services, value engineering to improve the widening design and erection methods, superstructure construction inspection, and structural analysis and evaluation of the arch main spans. 

Over the years, the heavily transited bridge also suffered from corrosion on truss elements, cracks in stringers, spalls and delamination in the concrete deck, and cracks in piers. TYLin supported the rehabilitation and retrofit work and performed the load rating analysis to assess the live load carrying capacity of the existing bridge based on the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards.  

Project Highlights: 

TYLin’s long-term scope of work includes: 

  • Inspecting, performing non-destructive testing, and developing load measurements to determine the extent of deterioration and damage to the concrete deck system, fatigue stresses, corrosion, and the structural deficiencies of the bridge superstructure and piers. 
  • Inspecting, evaluating, and performing physical testing on the three central spans of the bridge, totaling 2,244 feet (683 meters) and including the arch truss with suspended deck. 
  • Designing and providing construction support services for stringer retrofits after identifying fatigue-sensitive details of the deck-to-stringer connections at deck expansion joints.  
  • Reviewing and providing quality assurance for the deck strengthening design, which consisted of the pressure injection of deck cracks, patching of delaminated concrete, and installing fiber carbon rods and fabrics on the top and bottom of the deck.  
  • Performing stage-by-stage analyses for the complete replacement of the concrete deck and stringers of the bridge superstructure; analysis considered unbalanced load conditions during construction and wind effects with a partially completed deck, and their effects throughout various stages of the deck replacement construction.  
  • Developing a special safety repair program to keep the bridge open to traffic and ensure the safety of vehicular traffic.