Geotechnical Polyurethane Breathes New Life into Controversial Structure of Big Sur Bridge


Article by: Moana Kai, on 08 July 2023, at 10:03 am PDT

Highway 1 in California's stunning Big Sur region is not only renowned for its breathtaking coastal views and the impressive Bixby Creek Bridge but also for the challenges it faces due to flooding, erosion, and rockslides. Recently, maintenance staff discovered gaps in a retaining wall called a crib wall supporting the bridge's abutment, which prompted them to seek a solution to preserve its integrity.

To tackle this issue, engineers from Caltrans turned to EagleLIFT, a company with expertise in infrastructure rehabilitation. The team used a technique involving the injection of Strata-fill™, a liquid polyurethane foam, into the voids behind the crib wall. This innovative product not only fills the gaps but also provides additional benefits. It is lightweight, exerts minimal pressure on the soil, and features a low exothermic reaction temperature, preventing overheating or the risk of fire.

Using steel rods, approximately 5,000 pounds of Strata-fill were injected into the voids, completing the job efficiently within a day and a half and significantly under budget. Cliff Frazao, the president of EagleLIFT, credits their experience in infrastructure rehabilitation for a successful and cost-effective outcome. He emphasizes the importance of proactive maintenance, drawing a parallel to promptly addressing issues in a car to prevent further damage and expenses.

Although the repair is a temporary fix, Frazao assures that it will serve its purpose until a new bridge is constructed over Limekiln Creek, emphasizing the significance of continuous preventive maintenance.

The collaboration between Caltrans and EagleLIFT not only demonstrates the effectiveness of innovative solutions but also highlights the importance of proactive measures in preserving infrastructure and minimizing costs. As California continues to address the challenges posed by its dynamic natural environment, such partnerships and preventive approaches will play a vital role in ensuring the longevity of its iconic highways and bridges.

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