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Innovative Design Elements Instrumental in Achieving Project Goals

The SPIA container wharf includes a 600-meter-long quay shown here.

Located off the remote, seismically active Pacific coast of Colombia, the Sociedad Puerto Industrial Aguadulce S.A. (SPIA) container terminal project and the Boscoal bulk handling terminal project presented BergerABAM with a unique opportunity to design two state-of-the-art wharf structures on a difficult site. This project implemented a common precast heavy wharf structure design despite the varied usage of the two wharves and stringent operational requirements. The simultaneously constructed, fast-tracked projects are located on the Aguadulce peninsula off the Port of Buenaventura in Colombia.

The SPIA container wharf is a T-headed structure composed of a 600-meter-long (1,970 feet) quay connected to the peninsula with a 160-meter-long (525 feet) access trestle and a 25-meter-long (82 feet) platform. The wharf is designed to accommodate several super
post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes and very large container ships. The Boscoal bulk handling wharf is an inverted L-shaped structure west of the SPIA quay and includes a 250-meter-long (820 feet) quay connected to a 186-meter-long (610 feet) access trestle and a 47-meter-long (154 feet) platform. It has multiple conveyor belts serving coal exports and grain imports and is capable of berthing Handymax bulk vessels, which are smaller compared with the super ships and designed to easily accommodate varying cargos.

BergerABAM’s deck design for the two wharves not only maximized the use of precast concrete to eliminate complicated formwork, reduced in-situ concreting, and provided superior durability, but also satisfied state-of-the-art seismic design guidelines. The precast wharf deck design was made compatible with the contractor’s “top-down” construction system adopted to install the piles and deck and featured the use of an innovative precast concrete pile plug/pile cap unit connecting the steel pipe piles to the deck, which helped expedite construction significantly, given the large number of piles in the wharves. Deck design and fabrication was completed during the time pre-ordered piles forming the substructure of the two wharves were being installed. This allowed the deck elements to be installed soon after pile installation in order to meet the tight construction schedule.

The SPIA wharf was constructed in the record time of 12 months, whereas construction for the Boscoal wharf—less than half the length of the SPIA wharf—took 9 months. BergerABAM’s wharf designs not only satisfied the owner’s design criteria but helped the contractor meet the tight construction schedule by implementing its preferred means and methods.