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In episode 009 of the Civil Engineering Podcast, we take a closer look at Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge in St. Louis, Missouri and provide project management advice from Jeff Church, PE and Gwen Lageman, PE, the engineers who worked on the project. Christian will break down the project and I will summarizes 6 challenges the project engineers encountered during the design and construction of the bridge and how communication plays an important role in the success of the project.
What You Can Learn From the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge Project:
- How to help multiple people or organizations agree on one thing.
- How to have good workflow communication when dealing with different organizations and government agencies on one project.
- How to work with project specialists like archaeologists and keep the project moving along on schedule.
- How to get buy-in from the community and ensure minority participation in the workforce is achieved.
- How to know forecast the risks on your civil engineering project.
- How to maximize your time if you’re managing multiple projects.
- “Overcome your fear of public speaking by getting comfortable with your topic.” Learn more in Ep 009! #TCEPodcast
- In project management, communicate early and often. Tune in now to Ep 009 of #TCEPodcast
- The story and design challenges behind the Stan Musial Veterans Bridge. #TCEPodcast Ep 009
Project Name: Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge
The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge is also known locally as “The Stan Span,” it spans the Mississippi river just north of downtown St. Louis. Stan Musial was a 22-year veteran of the Cardinals, a first baseman, and widely considered to be one of the greatest and most consistent hitters in baseball history. He missed the 1945 season to serve in the Navy, hence the tie-in to “Veteran” in the bridge’s name.
Project Location: St. Louis, MO in the USA
The main span of the cable-stayed bridge is 1,500 feet (460 m) in length, part of a total span of 2,803 feet. It is 86 feet (26 m) wide. Cables stretch from the bridge deck to the tops of two A-shaped towers, which reach 435 feet (133 m) above I-70. The new bridge’s main span is supported by 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of 0.6-inch-diameter (15 mm) stay-cable strand, enough for nearly two round trips from St. Louis to Chicago.
Project Budget (Construction): $667 million
Was Project Over/Under Budget:
The cost of the original design of the bridge and surrounding area was estimated at nearly $1.7 billion. After which, both Illinois and Missouri state governments decided that they could not bear that cost, they called for a new design; this proposed a smaller size and was submitted in 2007 with an estimated cost of $667 million. Of the total, $264 million covered realignment of I-70 on the Illinois side, $57 million to realign I-70 on the Missouri side, and $346 million to build the bridge.
Project Completion (Month/Year or Expected Completion Date):
The project took a little over 4 years to complete and opened to traffic on February 9, 2014.
Special Design Features and/or Challenges:
Subsurface exploration showed thick deposits of low-density sand below the water table, which could liquefy during an earthquake. This is actually a real threat to the St. Louis region, coming from the New Madrid fault. Several ways to reduce the risk were considered, including in-situ densification of the sands, but ultimately the foundations were changed to feature 12-foot-diameter (3.7 m), 120-foot-long (37 m) drilled piers founded in the limestone bedrock to support the bridge superstructure. The bedrock is 120 feet (37 m) below the surface on the Illinois side and between 30 and 60 feet (18 m) on the Missouri side.
Foundation construction was also challenged by the deep, swift water of the Mississippi River. The conditions at this site were subject to flooding from a difficult current.
Another challenging element of the bridge construction were the towers, which are 400 feet above the river. Having the experience and equipment to build towers of such height was crucial.
Benefits to Society:
Until the Stan Span’s completion, St. Louis’s Poplar Street Bridge held the distinction of being one of the two bridges in the U.S. to carry three interstate’s traffic – I-70, I-55 and I-64. The Poplar was ALWAYS backed-up and whenever maintenance work was underway.
The Stan Musial Bridge carries approximately 40,000 commuters daily and eases other traffic congestion by 20 percent for Poplar Street Bridge and 50 percent for two other St. Louis Mississippi bridges: the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge and the Eads Bridge.
Another benefit, from a different aspect, was the provision of a secondary major crossing of the Mississippi River. St. Louis sits near the New Madrid fault and would be greatly susceptible to any major seismic activity. If a serious event occurred, the bridge improves the likelihood that a major connection between Missouri and Illinois would exist for emergency services and evacuations as required.
St. Louis’s Mississippi bridges represent each of the four major classes of bridges:
- Cable-stayed – the Stan Musial bridge
- Beam bridge – the Popular Street Bridge
- Arch bridge – the Eads Bridge
- Cantilever bridge – the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bridge
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below about the strategies you have used to manage multi-organizational civil engineering projects.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success
Photo of the Stan Musial Bridge by Cathy Morrison – MoDOT