The joint venture of Flatiron/Dragados last week showcased its progress on the precast concrete segments it will use to build the new $802.9 million Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi, TX, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Flatiron/Dragados is manufacturing eight bridge segments daily using imported molds from Italy. It should take two to three years to produce all 2,600 segments, which will range from 10 feet to 14 feet tall and 58 feet to 69 feet wide. Each piece weighs approximately 100 tons.
Likening the segments to Lego blocks, joint venture officials said each one is marked to assist with assembly on site. The bridge is on track for completion in the spring of 2021.
Precast is part of the offsite, prefabricated construction segment, which continues to gain traction. Through this method, owners and contractors execute as much of a project as they can under controlled environments like the Flatiron/Dragados precast yard. The types of projects taking advantage of this method range from bridges to hotels to smaller subcontracted portions of a job.
Earlier this year, Marriott International announced it would develop 13% of its new North American properties this year using modular construction. The estimated 50 hotels will incorporate either prefabricated guest rooms or bathrooms.
The hotel giant has already opened one modular hotel in California, completing that project two months ahead of schedule. Marriott has four similar projects underway, including an AC Hotel in Oklahoma.
According to Lad Dawson, the retired former CEO and managing partner of Boise, ID–based modular manufacturer Guerdon Modular Buildings, the Marriott announcement further legitimized the offsite industry and increased awareness of the benefits of prefab. Guerdon produced the units for the hotelier's Oklahoma property.
Given the ongoing labor shortage, prefab has also made it easier for some subcontractors to complete their work without having to struggle with the limitations of the current workforce. For example, Bill Weber, principal at Gaston Electrical, in Norwood, MA, told Construction Dive earlier this year that being able to work offsite with other subcontractors to build multi-trade racks ahead of time can reduce the company's skilled labor needs by as much as 50%.