In 2018 the Port of Corpus Christi Authority put out a request for proposals to design and build a new 40,500-ft² cargo dock and ramp for the port’s North Bank. The dock had to be durable enough to support a steady stream of cargo from the Handymax and Panamax vessels arriving in the port.
“One of the challenges on this project was to develop the most cost-effective solution,” says Louis Klusmeyer, the port's chief of design for engineering services at the time of the project.
They design they chose featured a precast prestressed concrete pile-supported ship dock, consisting of precast concrete beams, precast, prestressed concrete slabs, and a cast-in-place topping slab.
The use of precast concrete piles, pile caps, and deck panels met the financial goals, with added financial benefits achieved through rapid erection of the structure. That reduced the need for costly floating cranes and associated labor costs, he says. “Precast concrete construction also minimized the need for expensive overwater formwork, which would have been required for cast-in-place construction.”
Flexibility for the Future
Once the design was approved, the biggest challenge for the precast concrete producer was meeting stringent concrete mixture design specifications, which would have been very difficult to accomplish without the use of plant-cast precast concrete. It required tight quality control procedures, which the precast concrete producer was able to meet by following close specification requirements set by the design team.
Once on-site, the precast concrete elements were erected in just five months. The precast concrete slabs delivered the necessary strength and functionality, while serving as an in-place forming system over water, which enhanced the project schedule while improving worker safety.
“The precast concrete deck concept not only simplified the installation of topsides, including the ship unloader rails, but also provided enough flexibility for future liquid bulk operations,” says Carlos E. Ospina, former vice president of BergerABAM and current vice president of WSP USA. “Innovative design ideas and close communication with the design-builder owner and suppliers were paramount for the success of the project.”
The final design now provides a highly efficient structure that will meet the needs of the port and its clients for years to come. With ample space, lots of storage, and a highly durable, extremely low-maintenance structure, the terminal is now open for business, accommodating cargo ships coming from around the globe.
“The additional benefits of precast beyond the cost savings is the greater durability and longer time until first repair that precast concrete exhibits over a steel structure,” Klusmeyer says. “This was important to reduce the long-term maintenance costs of the facility to the owner.”