When building a bridge or any other structure in water, a dewatering solution is crucial to completing the project successfully. All dewatering methods are essentially the same, specifically to create a dry work environment. There are, however, differences to note when examining a caisson vs. cofferdam. Becoming familiar with these terms will help you and your team choose the best solution for your next project.
Yes, there really is a difference between caissons and cofferdams. While construction novices may use the terms interchangeably, each has unique characteristics. Knowing the differences and how they apply to your construction project will ultimately improve the success of your project.
A caisson is a box-like structure that is permanently fixed within the water table of engineering projects. They are primarily used in the construction of bridges, piers, or similar structures. Depending on the size and scope of the project, there are three different caissons used most commonly.
Open Caissons – Timber, steel, or concrete box that is open at the top and bottom of the structure. The walls are generally heavy and pumped with reinforced concrete to ensure a dry area.
Box Caissons – Watertight boxes usually composed of timber or concrete that are open at the top. They are generally floated to the specific area and then sunk into place with a masonry pier.
Pneumatic Caissons – Primarily used in underwater construction, these boxes are closed at the top and open at the bottom. Water is pushed out during the sinking process by using compressed air.
In comparison, cofferdams are temporary structures that are installed to divert water away from worksites. Cofferdams are most commonly used in new construction works or short-term maintenance projects of shallow bridges, piers, or boat ramps. Traditional cofferdams are filled with concrete or rock to restrict nearby water or river flow. Comparatively, inflatable cofferdams use water pumps to inflate themselves and create a temporary dam.
Pro Tip: AquaBarrier cofferdams are not only environmentally-friendly but easy to install. Save time and money by choosing a dewatering solution that your whole crew can use.
Caisson vs. Cofferdam
Not all building projects are created equal. With that being said, where a cofferdam could be installed, a caisson may not be applicable. Both caissons and cofferdams are watertight structures that can be used in the construction of submerged water areas.
The difference, however, lies within the scope of the project. Caissons are permanent structures found in the initial design construction, whereas cofferdams are temporary structures installed for necessary repairs or maintenance.
Solutions for Your Work Area
Are you building a bridge or pier near a large body of water? Do you have a preferred dewatering solution? High water levels could impede your project’s timeline so it’s crucial to prepare your worksite in advance. Whether it’s a caisson or cofferdam, choose the right water control solution for your next project.
If you own a contracting company or work in the construction field, you are well aware that many projects are in or around shorelines. Carrying out the project can damage or disrupt the shoreline, causing erosion and the possible destruction of our precious shorelines.
What Projects Require the Use of Shoreline Restoration Techniques?
Employing shoreline restoration techniques can be beneficial in a number of construction fields and projects. It is important to consider shoreline restoration when dealing with many dewatering projects, such as pipeline construction, bridge and dam projects, and for sediment control. Here are five times that shoreline restoration needs to be taken into consideration:
Shoreline Erosion and Stabilization
Bridge and Dam Projects
1) Shoreline Erosion and Stabilization
Erosion occurs by the removal of coastal land that has been supplanted by water. It can be caused by storms, high winds, improper irrigation, and construction projects that disrupt the shoreline.
2) Sediment Control
It is important that developers and builders take into consideration sediment to help prevent erosion. When the soil and shorelines are disturbed, it can lead to a loss of habitat, blocked stormwater drains, public health issues, and an increased risk of flooding.
3) Bridge and Dam Projects
Because bridge and dam construction or repair projects require dewatering and are located along shorelines, they are an important time to use shoreline restoration techniques and practices.
4) Pipeline Construction
Many times, pipeline construction projects and inspections are performed in the water, and therefore the shoreline needs to be taken into consideration.
5) Ecosystem Restoration
When it comes to keeping shorelines healthy and the ecosystem thriving, it is imperative that control measures are installed before excavation or site disturbance occurs. Construction projects and natural weather disturbances can cause harm to the shoreline. When it comes time to performing restoration techniques, be sure you are using the best tools for the job.
ProTip: The Aqua-Barrier® Inflatable Cofferdam allows you to create a temporary dam in order to get a dry workspace to begin a shoreline stabilization project–without having to worry about flooding surrounding areas.
Shoreline Restoration and the Aqua Barrier® Water Inflated Dam
It is the job of the builder or developer to consider shoreline restoration and take reasonable care to prevent material (soil, sand, litter) from leaving construction sites. This can be achieved by using proper dewatering technique and using the best tools available, like the Aqua Barrier® Water Inflated Dam. Traditional sandbags can actually cause more damage to the shoreline, so using a cofferdam is the best option for any shoreline restoration project.
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Prevention is about keeping bridges from developing issues, while preservation focuses on fixing and repairing problems. Both are crucial to proactive bridge repair and maintenance and helping halt the deterioration of the bridge. Here are five things that are done to maintain bridges, and in turn, preserve them.
Establish a Long-Term Commitment
Cyclical Maintenance Activities
Have the Right Equipment
1) Establish A Long-Term Commitment
One of the main elements of preserving bridges is to make a long-term commitment to maintaining and improving the bridge through its entire life. By setting a schedule to perform certain maintenance tasks, you can help extend the life of the bridge. Creating a checklist and timeline can help you stay on track.
2) Conduct Cyclical Maintenance Activities
Performed on a schedule, these maintenance activities can help keep the bridge from deteriorating. Some examples of maintenance that needs to be done every year or so are:
Wash and clean the entire bridge
Clear drainage areas
Repaint exposed areas
Remove trash and other debris
Zone coat steel beams and girders
Install deck overlay on concrete decks
3) Condition-Based Preventions
While cyclical maintenance needs to be done on a planned schedule, condition-based prevention happens when issues are discovered during bridge inspections. If a problem is found during the inspection, the repairs are made in order to keep the bridge in good working order and to extend the life of the bridge. Some examples of this type of preventative measures are: replacing or sealing leaking joints, installing deck overlays, and painting and sealing steel structural elements.
4) Crisis Maintenance
Crisis maintenance in bridge repair is the most challenging because it means something has happened to put the bridge (and those using it) in jeopardy. You want to avoid crises at all cost by performing the cyclical and condition-based maintenance regularly. If the bridge gets severely damaged or neglected, rehabilitation or a total bridge replacement might be needed.
5) Have the Right Equipment
ProTip: To make sure you are able to properly maintain the bridge, it is important to have all the right equipment for the job. Having the best equipment allows you to save time and money when a repair is needed.
For example, an Aqua-Barrier® inflatable water dam is the perfect tool for your dewatering purposes. This reusable dewatering tool is a better option than traditional sheet piling or sandbags because it takes less time to set up and is also environmentally friendly, too.
Effective Bridge Repairs and Maintenance
By being proactive with your bridge repair and maintenance, you can help keep our American bridges safe and functioning. By planning and scheduling cyclical maintenance and condition-based preventions, and by having the right tools for the job, you can help eliminate crises and the need for more drastic issues that might lead to a bridge replacement.
Contact us to learn more ways on how you can adopt a proactive bridge repair and maintenance plan.
Construction work is always risky, but bridge repair projects put workers at an even heightened danger. In fact, according to OSHA, over 14,000 workers are killed on the job per year. And, with more than 56,000 bridges in America deemed structurally insufficient in 2017, more and more workers will be finding opportunity in fixing these outdated structures.
Safe Bridge Repair Projects
Keeping workers safe on bridge repair projects takes the right tools and planning. Check out these three safety considerations for bridge repair projects to see what protective gear and equipment can help keep workers safe on the job.
Specialized Bridge Access Equipment
Dewatering and Diversion Equipment
Eye, Face, and Foot Protection
1) Specialized Bridge Access Equipment
One of the top risks of working on bridge repair is falling from a high level to a lower one. Make sure to provide workers with equipment specifically designed for bridge work like bridgewalkers, hydra platforms, and UBITs, rather than retrofitting other equipment that isn’t meant for bridge repair.
OSHA requires bridge workers to wear proper safety protection to help prevent injuries. Bridge repair work puts workers at risk for eye and facial injuries because foreign particles from welding, grinding, cutting, or working with concrete can occur, as well as facial damage from extreme winds, dangerous chemicals, smoke, or electrical work. Foot protection is just as important and the correct shoes are important to help prevent slips, falls, and safety from electrical discharge.
Bride Repair & Dewatering Solutions
There are, of course, more safety measures and equipment that can help keep workers safe while doing bridge repair, but these three considerations can help prevent bridge repair related injuries and accidental deaths. Using the best equipment for the project (and used correctly) will help reduce workplace risks and make the job safer. You owe it to your valued employees to do all you can to protect them on the job.
Contact us to learn more about the best ways to keep your worksite safe during a bridge repair project.
How the Aqua-Barrier® Compares to Other Temporary Cofferdams
Safe and reliable: The patented internal baffle provides the most stable and safe system on the market
Engineering: Aqua-Barriers are backed by engineeringdata (Master Spec, Engineer Stamp, Aqua comp Software)
Convenience: Manufacturing – Sales – Service – Repair … all in one place by a TEAM that has almost 50 years of experience cumulatively
Versatile: restrain water, contain water, divert water, frac and hydra testing, flood protection, erosion control, turbidity — we have done it all !
Unique qualities: No other water inflated dam has a patented internal baffle. It is unique to Aqua-Barrier and Hydrological Solution’s products as are the fittings and accessories
Reusable: Aqua-Barriers are designed for multiple uses and are infield repairable without replacement components
Labor reduction: The exclusive accessories – lifting loops / fill ports / drain ports / work in combination to reduce man-hours which results in savings during install and removal
World-Wide: Our products are sold world-wide and all are made in the USA
Service: our TEAM responds quickly to serve you with minimal wait time and that service does not end at POS – we are available throughout your project to give you the benefit of our experience and knowledge.
Whether you are laying pipes in a river or lake bed, performing maintenance on an underwater structure, or building a bridge, dewatering the worksite is a must. Cofferdams are widely used for this purpose and come in many shapes and forms. Water filled cofferdams have become a popular choice in many industries due to the many benefits associated with this type of solution.
Why Choose a Water Filled Cofferdam?
If you have never used a water filled cofferdam before for your projects, you may be wondering how it is different and how it compares to using sandbags or other types of cofferdams.
Here are 5 Key Benefits of using a Water Filled Cofferdam for your Next Project:
ONE: Water filled cofferdams are easy to fill and quick to install.
This type of cofferdam solution goes up very quickly and easily because the water does all the work.
TWO: Fill material is available in abundance on site
Water is readily available on site so you never have to worry about carrying enough fill material with you to set it up.
THREE: Molds perfectly to physical environment
Water is pliable and flexible. When you fill the cofferdam, it forms to the river bed, lake bed, or other environment with no resistance.
FOUR: Forms airtight seal to prevent water escape
With sandbags and other materials, you run the risk of water escaping through the cracks. With a water-filled cofferdam, this risk is eliminated due to the nature of the seal that is formed when it is installed.
FIVE: Eco-friendly, no environmental footprint
Water filled cofferdams are reusable and have no environmental impact. Not only does this reduce product waste, but also saves money as they do not have to be replaced often.
At Hydrological Solutions, we are experts on water filled cofferdams. Our Aqua-Barriers® are built to help provide our customers the peace of mind they deserve when working in sensitive conditions. For more information about Aqua-Barriers® Cofferdam, please visit our FAQ. If you’re interested in our effective inflatable cofferdam solution, give us a call at 936-372-1222 or toll free at 800-245-0199. We look forward to hearing from you.