In 2014, GZA was contacted by the Marine Renewable Energy Coalition (MRECo). The MRECo had received a grant to create a permanent tidal energy equipment test site for axial turbines near the Bourne Railroad Bridge due to swift and predictable currents. The facility, the first of its kind, had to be constructed to rigorous safety and testing tolerances within the budget limit of the grant.


As test borings were not possible within the client’s budget, GZA first assembled boring data from the Bourne Railroad Bridge, first built in the early 1900s, and data from another site a mile from the proposed location. From this historical research, GZA designed a unique platform that was both mechanical and structural, with a crossbar to anchor equipment for testing that slides up and down the piles, powered by a winch. GZA then turned the design into a digital model, developing a unique system for modeling interactions between piles and structures. A third pile was added as field conditions were resolved.


The Bourne Tidal Test Site has served as the only permanent tidal energy test stand in the world. The structure has withstood multiple weather incidents and is currently in regular use by the MRECo.