The WSDOT Blog: New pile driving design about to make waves
New construction research is poised to make big waves both here and far abroad. We’ve been working in partnership with the University of Washington (UW) to find ways to reduce the noise created by underwater pile driving that will not only benefit and protect marine wildlife in the Puget Sound, but may also change marine construction practices around the globe.
Piles are long poles or tubes driven into the seabed to provide the foundation support for ferry terminals, docks, bridges and other structures. The noise created by hammering the piles into the seabed floor is easily carried underwater and can harm, and even kill, sensitive marine wildlife. As a result of those impacts, strict regulations on marine construction projects make them expensive and challenging to complete.
Our team of researchers, and environmental, construction and ferry engineers has worked with scientists to study the detrimental effects of underwater pile driving on marine environments for years. In 2008, the team invited both the construction industry and the academic fields to come up with a quieter pile design solution.
UW’s Mechanical Engineering department submitted a winning proposal for a new pile design technology. With our research-funding support, UW engineers and graduate students studied the mechanics of why pile driving is so loud, how the sound is transmitted underwater and how to reduce that sound. With this knowledge, they created a double-wall pile design that confines the installation noise within the pile itself.
|Mechanical Engineering PhD Candidate Tim Dardis reviews
the fabricated double-wall pile for field testing at
Commencement Bay in October. (Photo courtesy of the
University of Washington)