Managing Dollars and Sense in Spite of Difficult Bridge Design Challenges

How does a county engineer keep his projects moving forward while managing his budget and maintaining his sanity in today’s transportation/infrastructure environment?

Take the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, a lift bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine. At 73 years old, the Long Bridge was shut down in January after its center span got stuck during a routine test. But that isn’t the biggest problem – it’s the corroding floor beams and supports. The replacement bridge is scheduled for completion in 2017, but there’s a hitch—the current bridge may not last that long. Even though it’s the top red-listed bridge in New Hampshire, the funding for renovations is not yet in place. The need is obvious, but the funding isn’t there. This story, printed in “The Portland Press-Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram” on February 4, 2013, is, unfortunately, more the rule than the exception.

In Iowa, Buchanan County Engineer Brian Keierleber, P.E. talks about the scope of bridge repair challenges he faces. “I have to replace a bridge from 1870, one from 1872, and one from 1875,” he says. “General Custer fought the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876! I’m working on bridges that predate the Model T!” But Brian has a big problem in that his 19th century bridges are facing 21st century demands, such as modern combines that measure 22 feet wide but must cross bridges that are 20 feet wide. This places extra strain on structures that should have been replaced years ago. With a huge gap between need and funding resources, Brian surmises that eventually “economics will dictate that the rural road system must be brought to more modern standards, which begins with building modern bridges.”

The SSSBA is helping to turn that eventually into now with a new, easy-to-use, web-based design tool called eSPAN140. Engineers (or non-engineers) can obtain cost-effective designs for short span steel bridges in five minutes or less in just three easy steps. The only data required is the project’s length, width and number of striped traffic lanes. eSPAN140 prints out a Steel Solutions book that’s tailor-made for the project and includes the names/phone numbers/emails of manufacturers and fabricators who can provide pricing information and deliver the completed bridge to the site. And the best news of all – eSPAN140 is FREE to use and can be used multiple times for additional projects. It was developed by the steel bridge industry, with more than 30 organizations collaborating on the project.

County engineers (and non-engineers) have everything to gain and nothing to lose with eSPAN140. Try it today.

About Dan Snyder

Dan Snyder is director of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance (SSSBA), where he works with SSSBA members to educate, inform and promote the many advantages of using steel for short span bridges including cost-effectiveness, time-saving bridge designs and life cycle analysis advantages. He is a digital marketing enthusiast, appreciating both the creative side of the process as well as the science behind it, and provides regular updates via his Pull Marketer blog at Dan can be contacted at
This entry was posted in Bridge Design Economics, County Bridges, eSPAN140, Short Span Bridges, Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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