CONTECH Bridge Solutions Inc.
July 2008 Newsletter: Continental bridge supports pipes and pedestrians for The Western Refinery at El Paso, TX

El Paso, Texas - Western Refining is an independent refiner and marketer headquartered in El Paso, Texas. The company wanted to transfer products from the south to the north side of the plant, but Trowbridge Street was an obstacle. Instead of running the pipes through casings under the road, the refinery elected to elevate the pipes over the busy thoroughfare to minimize construction impacts to the community. A pipe support bridge offered significant cost savings over a tunnel project and would make regular inspections more convenient. In addition to carrying the necessary piping system, the company solved a worker safety issue by incorporating pedestrian usage into the design.

C.F. Jordan, L.P., the general contractor, awarded CONTECH the project when the company met the criteria and specifications for the Western Refinery bridge structure. Over the years the firm had worked with other CONTECH products, including a Continental pedestrian bridge used for an earlier site.

"The engineering for the bridge was substantial and that was the concern," said Jorge Scott, Project Manager for C.F. Jordan, L.P. "We had worked with CONTECH over the years and felt comfortable with their abilities."

Robert Navarro & Associates Engineering, Inc. (RNA) represented Western Refining as consulting engineers for the bridge project. RNA was responsible for the architectural design of the bridge, as well as developing the engineering criteria for the structure, the piers and abutments.

"Western Refining wanted a bridge that would fit in well within the surrounding environment," said Walter Bambrook, Project Manager for RNA. "It had to perform well as a pipe bridge and pedestrian walkway, yet they didn't want it to have an industrial look. Aesthetic appearance was important here."

The multipurpose structure carries pipes and pedestrians up and over Trowbridge Street. It meets all of the necessary engineering requirements, including the ability to withstand El Paso's seasonally strong winds.

"This is an involved project and we are impressed by CONTECH's willingness to work with us on all of the special details," Bambrook said.

The painted steel truss bridge is 91 feet long by 28 feet wide. The lighted pedestrian walkways are located on the outside of the structure, with the pipe galley running between. Corrugated steel is used for the curved roofing above the walkways and also utilized as paneling to enclose the pipe galley. The walkway's metal decking is powder coated with a non-skid surface applied for sure footing.

JCF Bridge & Concrete assembled the bridge and installed the corrugated roofing and side panels for the pipe galley while the structure was on the ground. The city gave permission to close the street on a Sunday morning and, using two cranes supplied by Energy Transportation, the large structure was lifted onto the concrete piers and secured.

"The city allowed us to close the street and thanks to everybody's effort, the installation only took six hours," said Scott. "The installation went as planned and scheduled."

Western Refining is very pleased with the outcome of the bridge project. The aesthetic structure performs its main task as a pipe support bridge, and refinery employees will now reach the company parking lot on the south side of the road without crossing a busy thoroughfare.