At 2.75 kilometers, Chacao Channel Bridge will be the longest suspension bridge in South America. The 1,055- and 1,155-meter main spans will clear the Chacao channel by 50 meters. Three towers will rise to heights of 157, 175, and 199 meters. The Chile Ministry of Public Works commissioned the USD 740 million bridge to connect the Island of Chiloe to the mainland. The highly seismic region, strong currents, deep channel, and high winds have presented significant engineering and construction challenges.
The Ministry of Public Works is in charge of design verification, structural evaluation, and constructability. The subsidence of a mid-channel rock formation created a special challenge during construction of the central, 175-meter inverted-Y tower. The Ministry solved the problem by using the advanced dynamics and wind analysis capabilities of RM Bridge. Performing 3D computational analysis aided in evaluating alternatives and improving design quality.
Given the harsh environmental conditions, RM Bridge’s parametric analysis capabilities reduced the time required to evaluate alternatives and verify the structural design. Upon completion in 2020, the Chacao Channel Bridge will improve quality of life, commerce, and tourism for the Island of Chiloe and the port city of Puerto Montt. The bridge will replace sporadic ferry service across the rough channel. The Chilean government estimates the advent of improved commerce will result in a 6 percent return on investment.
The Chile Ministry of Public Works implemented Bentley’s master bridge engineering software, RM Bridge, for bridge design, analysis, and construction, and gINT to streamline data management and reporting for the geotechnical and geoenvironmental work. RM Bridge has proved to be a powerful tool for checking complex structural designs and reacting quickly to conditions in the field that require design modifications.