The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has contracted with Minneapolis-based consultancy and design firm WSB & Associates to begin development of a scheduling tool for the state's bridge construction projects, according to Crossroads.
Once the research project is complete, MnDOT will develop guidelines to establish the production rates of different bridge designs. The planned support document will also help project managers decide whether accelerated bridge construction (ABC) techniques would be appropriate.
WSB's study will be complete in March 2018 and will include a review of transportation department processes around the country, bridge construction case studies and software options. WSB could also produce a bridge construction cost estimating tool if there's enough left in their budget.
The workload needed to repair and rebuild America's roads is growing, and the companies and agencies responsible for doing that work are increasingly looking for ways to do it more efficiently. ABC is one such strategy that, according to the Federal Highway Administration, seeks to improve such projects' safety and quality, while reducing their social and environmental impact, by cutting the construction schedule.
The ABC method could play a critical role in repairing and replacing the country's aging bridges. Although the American Road and Transportation Builders Association found that there were fewer structurally deficient bridges in 2016 than there were in 2015, the number of U.S. bridges currently in need of repair or replacement exceeds 55,000.
The Tennessee DOT will use ABC techniques on the replacement portion of a $28.5 million bridge rehab project along Interstate 24 in downtown Nashville. Officials said the fast-tracked project will enable the agency to complete construction in months, rather than in years.
In Georgia, the state DOT and highway contractor C.W. Matthews used ABC earlier this year to rebuild a 350-foot collapsed section of Interstate 85 through Atlanta, according to Equipment World. The highway bridge caught fire in March, leading it to collapse.
The significant traffic the bridge typically saw prompted transportation officials to speed up plan reviews and permitting, establishing a 10-week construction schedule. To reinforce those efforts, the agency offered Matthews a $3.1 million early completion bonus, likely contributing to the team's success in opening the project one month ahead of schedule.