Orange County Branch Newsletter

September 2014

Branch News

Cow Camp Road Bridge Presentation and Tour – September 2014

By: Jerusalem V. Verano, EIT

On September 5, 2014 the ASCE OC Branch, in conjunction with Rancho Mission Viejo (RMV), hosted a tour of Cow Camp Road Bridge located east of the I-5 and north of Ortega Highway in Rancho Mission Viejo.  The tour was presented by Gene Strojek (Sr. Project Manager for RMV), Jim Yates (Sr. Project Director for RMV), Ivan Benavidez Jr. (Fountainhead/ Murrow CM), Tyrone Taylor Jr. (Fountainhead/ Murrow CM) and Jessica Byrd (Fountainhead/Murrow CM). The tour included a technical presentation, a visit to Planning Area 2’s (future community) grading operation, and a walk through of the long spanning and impressive Cow Camp Road Bridge.

Cow Camp Road Bridge, currently under construction, will serve as a main access route connecting Antonio Parkway to Planning Area 2, a new community being developed by the Ranch in Rancho Mission Viejo. (Photo: Gary Gilbert)

Technical Presentation
After arriving at an offsite location, over 40 guests packed into a caravan of trucks and drove to the Ranch’s forward engineer office within the PA2 development. Here the presentation began with an overview of Rancho Mission Viejo’s “Ranch Plans” which includes 23,000 acres of land most of which will be protected open space. Guests were then shown an impressive aerial video of the first phase of construction on Cow Camp Road Bridge. The aerial video was captured by a drone operated by the Ranch. Listening to the presenters, one got the sense that the Ranch truly enjoyed leveraging the latest in technology to supplement their operations. One of the most exciting technologies illustrated was the use of 3D terrain models in conjunction with GPS and grading equipment to grade sites. According to the Ranch this has made tracking and billing grading quantities far more efficient.

The Ranch’s forward engineering office adjacent to Planning Area 2 development. (Photo: Gary Gilbert)

Gene Strojek presenting on Cow Camp Road Bridge. (Photo: Gary Gilbert)

Speaking on efficiency, gone are the days of carrying plans into the field. The presenters explained that Ranch operators now use iPads to retrieve, view, and mark engineering plans. Additionally, the use of an ArcGIS app (application), on the iPad has allowed for real time positioning in the field, relative to engineering plans; a useful tool for visualization and navigating virgin, ungraded terrain. Ultimately, according to the presenters, these tools have served to keep the project on schedule and within budget.

Grading Operations
The tour then shifted to an active grading site within Planning Area 2. The presenters discussed the ongoing grading operations, the plans for the future development, and the 17,000 acres of protected open space as part of the Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo. This is in comparison to the 6,000 acres designated for 14,000 new homes within RMV.

Standing on a future school site located within PA2 discussing grading operations. (Photo: Gary Gilbert)

Scrapers operating in the background (Photo: Gary Gilbert)

Cow Camp Road Bridge
Having gotten our fill of the grading operations, the tour was then driven to the main event, Cow Camp Road Bridge. Ivan Benavidez Jr. and his team from Fountainhead Murrow CM, explained the details of the bridge construction. One detail that stood out is how the Ranch has taken the lead on delivering the bridge; a role reversal where generally the public agencies lead on structures, such as, Cow Camp Road Bridge. Ivan, Gene, and Jim explained that this arrangement was allowed due to the Ranch’s strong relationship with the county, from previous developments, and the Ranch’s local expertise of the area.

Ivan and his team discussing the technical details of Cow Camp Road Bridge. (Photo: Gary Gilbert)



As can be seen from the image above the bridge is split into two sections with a hinge point near the center. The first section of the bridge was completed at the time of the presentation whereas the second half was due to be poured on Tuesday Sept 9th according to the presenters. Because the bridge crosses a creek, the ground water table is shallow. The columns are driven down to bedrock and vary in girth and depth. Ivan explained that the bridge columns are all fixed with two piles in each section being pinned as determined by a seismic analysis. 

After a short walk around the bridge, guests were treated to the views from the deck of the bridge. Crossing over the finished portion we gathered around the hinge point of the bridge where space has been allotted for post-tensioning the bridge. According to Fabio Sanchez, P.E., the bridge designer with RBF Consulting, a Company of Michael Baker International, the post-tensioning cables are arranged in the parabolic moment diagram shape to counteract those forces acting on the bridge.

Gathered around the Cow Camp Road Bridge hinge point. Guests were treated to the “skeleton” of the bridge.

Once completed, Cow Camp Road Bridge will serve as the main artery into the new PA2 development. A second bridge is planned adjacent to the current structure. This concluded the presentation. Overall the presentation was informative, eye opening to the Rancho Mission Viejo home development scene, and a joy to experience. 

Special thanks to the presenters from RMV and Fountainhead Murrow as well as Gary Gilbert and Josue Vaglienty of ASCE for organizing the event!

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