Fugro supports US 51 bridge redesign with nearshore geotechnical expertise


Geodata specialists Fugro to apply their skills to help design a safer and more reliable Ohio River crossing.

Fugro is performing a nearshore geotechnical study to support the site investigation phase for the new US 51 Cairo Bridge in Ballard County, Kentucky.

The current bridge, built in 1936, connects Wickliffe, Kentucky, to Cairo, Illinois and carries a high volume of commercial truck traffic over the Ohio River. However, its narrow lanes and shoulders are inadequate for oversize or overweight loads. Fugro’s study will focus on the subsurface conditions within the project’s marine environment, providing critical information for the efficient design of a safer and more reliable crossing.

Fugro was selected for the project by consulting engineer Terracon. Leveraging extensive nearshore experience, Fugro is conducting the study from a third-party lift boat, specially equipped to operate in both shallow and deeper waters with minimal environmental disturbance. The vessel is now on site after an eight-day journey up the Mississippi River from Louisiana, enabling Fugro experts to begin the study, which involves soil sampling, in-situ testing, seismic cone penetration testing (SCPT) and downhole PS logging and analysis.

Fieldwork is scheduled to last approximately two months, with two drilling and two SCPT crews rotating shifts for 24/7 operations. Project data will be delivered to Terracon in near real-time using a Fugro proprietary cloud-based solution, enabling fast access to early results and timely adjustments to the scope of work.

“Fast and accurate geotechnical data and analysis is a critical component of any bridge project, and we’re proud to be contributing our nearshore expertise on the US 51 Cairo Bridge,” said Stephen Williams, director of site investigation for Fugro in the Americas. “Our streamlined approach, experienced team and advanced technologies will positively contribute to the overall site investigation, supporting a modern bridge design that will better serve today’s transportation needs with safety and sustainability in mind,” he said.