Effects of Ice Loads on the Confederation Bridge


  • Donald Campbell


Coastal and Ocean Engineering, EN8751, Case Study, Civil, Confederation Bridge, Ice Loads


As the longest bridge in Canada and the longest bridge over ice-covered water in the world, the design and construction of the Confederation Bridge presented a unique engineering challenge. There was no precedent for designing for the ice loads experienced by the bridge piers. As such, extensive studies were conducted by the National Research Council (NRC) and various independent groups to ensure the Confederation Bridge design was adequate for ice loads in the Northumberland Strait, but also that the design was not overly robust. Since the completion of the Confederation Bridge studies have continued on the ice loads experienced by the bridge piers. These could prove very useful in determining the accuracy of original calculated expected loads and methods that could be used to calculate ice loads in the future. Also, engineers will be able to learn more about the effects of ice on fixed structures as the Confederation Bridge ages.


Brown, T.G, Jordaan, I.J., and Croasdale, K.R. (2001). “A probabilistic approach to analysis of ice loads for the Confederation Bridge”. Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering, Volume 28 (Number 4), pages 562-573

D.J. McGinn, personal communication, March 11, 2013

National Research Council Canada, “Response of Confederation Bridge to ice forces : Winter 2008-2010”, CHC-TR-075, 2010

(2013, March 10). The Confederation Bridge. Retrieved from http://www.confederationbridge.com

Manual of Standard Procedures for Observing and Reporting Ice Conditions (2013, March 10). Canadian Ice Service. Retrieved from http://www.ec.gc.ca/glaces-ice/

Cammaert, A.B., Jordaan, I.J., Bruneau, S.E, Crocker, G.B., McKenna, R.F., and Williams, S.A. “Probabilistic Analysis of Ice Loads on Conical Bridge Piers for the Northumberland Strait Crossing Project”. Contract report for Stanley Atlantic Inc., C-CORE Contract Number 93-C2






Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)