Saturday, September 19, 2009


Parsons Brinckerhoff and another company sued over crumbling of Philadelphia’s Frankford elevated line

by Larry Geller

The problem is properly called “spalling” and refers to concrete breaking away from and falling from a structure. Yes, someone below could be injured or killed by the falling concrete.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Parsons Brinckerhoff and Sverdrup (now part of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.) are being sued for costs of repair of the Frankford elevated line. The line was rebuilt, according to the article, in the 1980s and 1990s.

To prevent pieces of concrete from falling onto cars or pedestrians, SEPTA crews have installed 8,000 metal mesh belts on the underbelly of the El and plan to install 2,000 more, beginning Monday.

That's a temporary fix, designed to keep the 5.2-mile-long El safe until SEPTA consultants come up with a permanent repair in the next year.

The problem? The El was rebuilt in a way that does not allow its deck to adequately expand and contract with temperature changes, SEPTA chief engineer Jeffrey Knueppel said.

SEPTA, which has been struggling with the crumbling concrete for years, blames the El flaw on the two engineering companies responsible for the design and the construction management of the structure


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