A remarkable feat took place recently in Boston, MA. A bridge, owned by the The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, that would “normally involve two years of detours and frustration for local drivers” (according to an article in the New York Times) was replaced in one weekend. See a time-lapsed video and more information here.
The article highlights the fact that by using “accelerated bridge construction” techniques, a collection of technologies and methods that can shave months if not years off the process of building and replacing critical infrastructure, Massachusetts is at the forefront of a national effort that is aimed at putting drivers first.
Victor M. Mendez, the head of the Federal Highway Administration, said “This will be the new normal,”
In order to achieve these feats, many engineers and DOTs are utilizing steel for the projects which required accelerated construction. Short span steel bridges provide many advantages for accelerated construction. In 2010, The Utah Department of Transportation decided to install a pre-fabricated steel bridge in order to save time and money. According to Tom Christensen, P.E., project engineer with Jones & DeMille Engineering, “We specified prefabricated steel on this project for several reasons. One reason was that steel beams are typically shallower than pre-fabricated, pre-stressed concrete systems, which allowed us to keep a low bridge profile height. The second factor was cost. The pre-fabricated steel beams were less expensive than comparable pre-fabricated concrete systems.”