Uplifting experience




Uplifting experience

The Panama Canal’s new Atlantic Bridge is just the latest project in the Americas for which mageba has designed and supplied uplift bearing solutions
The Atlantic Bridge, or Puente Atlántico, is currently being built across the Panama Canal, the world’s busiest waterway which connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans across Panama in Central America. The bridge construction project follows the recent mega-project to widen and deepen the canal to allow for a second lane of traffic for larger container ships – the New-Panamax ships. The bridge, which is expected to open in 2018, will span 530 m (579 yards) and have a clearance of 75 m (82 yards).

The design of the bearings presented a number of significant challenges. Due to the bridge’s seismic isolation design, large longitudinal movements of up to +/- 1,025 mm (+/- 40 inches) can occur during an earthquake and had to be allowed for in the design of its bearings. Transverse movements of up to +/- 390 mm (+/- 15 inches) must also be accommodated in some cases, and uplift forces of up to 3,500 kN (787 kips) can arise. There was also a need for bumper bearings to be installed vertically between the bridge’s deck and its pylons to provide lateral and longitudinal restraint to the deck – an application which requires these bearings to be “height adjustable”. This enables them to be installed, considering deck construction tolerances, without any gap at their sliding interface, which would result in hammering and therefore damage to the sliding materials.

The project reaffirms our belief – founded on years of experience delivering extraordinary bearing solutions for projects all around the world, including uplift bearing solutions for structures in the Americas such as the Golden Ears Bridge in Canada – that if a bearing solution can be developed and supplied for any set of requirements, mageba can do it.


Equipping of bearing with sliding plate (beneath) to accommodate large sliding movements, with folded sheet dust protection on top


One uplift bearing following completion of assembly, including with long anchorages on top for concrete connection


Packing of the bearing for safe transport to site in Panama


Testing of one of these very special uplift bearings to AASHTO specifications


Representation of an alternative uplift bearing solution as also developed for the Atlantic Bridge – this simpler type designed to resist uplift forces only


Representation (cut-out view) of a bumper bearing as designed for the Atlantic Bridge (to be rotated and installed “on its side”) allowing its “height”/thickness to be adjusted and its ROBO®SLIDE sliding material sheets to be replaced if required


The lower part of a complex uplift bearing for the Atlantic Bridge, during assembly in a mageba factory


Further assembly of an uplift bearing in the factory


An uplift bearing for the Atlantic Bridge, partially assembled