Publish and Present
The oldest continually operated port facility in Guatemala, the Terminal Ferroviaria de Puerto Barrios, has seen many changes from its original construction in 1880 as the Guatemalan Northern Railway’s Caribbean terminus to its current use as a modern deep-draft container port. Completed in August 2015, the latest phase of modernization consists of a pier widening project designed to provide 250 linear meters (660 feet) of berth with the operational space and structural capacity for working gearless container vessels with state-of-the-art post-Panamax mobile harbor cranes (MHCs).
Although the pier expansion enabled a large increase in productivity, the implementation was challenging because the operator could not allow a berth to be taken out of service without making other provisions for continued stevedoring. In addition, the difficult subsurface conditions, high seismic risk, and the need to reconcile the relatively weak and brittle behavior of the existing pier with a modern ductile plumb-pile structure, presented the project team with a challenging set of tasks to overcome in a very short nine-month design and construction program.
The project also includes redevelopment of the existing container yard, including new infrastructure designed to support the implementation of a dedicated rubber-tired gantry (RTG) yard crane operation. The berth improvements and expansion, coupled with the container yard redevelopment, are planned to maximize the productivity of a 15-hectare container terminal and reach the operational goal of 1 million TEUs per year.
This paper discusses the innovative solutions to design, program management, and construction sequencing that were required to bring the project to a successful conclusion. Elements, such as the procurement and installation of a temporary (now permanent) floating pier extension, owner-procured large-diameter steel pipe piles, fast-track design and construction program, a highly efficient combination of precast and cast-in-place concrete construction, were all essential for the success of the implementation program.