Monitoring bridges and managing their maintenance can be challenging and costly for transportation agencies. Innovative techniques being used in some states make this task easier, save money, and provide new information about how travelers are using the nation’s bridges.
Determined to keep the New International Trade Crossing moving forward, Canada has announced they will begin purchasing property in the distressed Delray neighborhood of Detroit. While Canada is already planning on paying for almost the entire bridge, including the approaches and connections to the interstate in Michigan, it has been waiting for U.S. funding assurances for the customs plaza on the Detroit side. Frustrated by a lack of a commitment by the U.S., consul-general Roy Norton told the Detroit Free-Press that Canada feels the project is too important to delay any further.
On November 8, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority used an Accelerated Bridge Construction technique to replace a 102-year-old bridge that carries the Red Line trains over Clayton Street in Dorchester. Using a Self-Propelled Modular Transporter, a new bridge was moved into place within 24 hours of the old bridge being demolished. MassDOT is at the forefront of ABC technology that prefabricates major bridge components in one location and transports them to the construction site where they will be quickly installed using heavy lifting equipment such as cranes, gantry systems, or SPMTs. The replacement of the Clayton Street Bridge was the first time this technology has been used to replace a bridge in the MBTA system, and one of the few on a transit project.
In late June, as the Pennsylvania legislature debated whether or not to raise the wholesale gas tax, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch warned that he would likely have to place weight restrictions on bridges across the state in order to extend their useful life if additional funding was not allocated. Some may have thought this was just a bargaining point, but now 1,000 bridges across the state have been posted with reduced weight limits.
While several states successfully passed transportation revenue packages this year, in Pennsylvania and Washington the failure of such bills will have immediate effects on infrastructure. PennDOT is considering weight limits for bridges across the state, and the $3 billion-plus Columbia River Crossing project, that would have replaced the existing I-5 bridge, shut down.
Accelerated bridge construction (ABC) techniques are transforming the replacement and construction of bridges across the country, and commuters are benefiting from shorter construction schedules. The central component of accelerated bridge construction is the use of prefabrication technologies which allow the production of bridge components off-site.