“I’m Just Sayin'” – Bridge Designers and Builders Talk About Their Experiences With eSPAN140 and the Jesup South Bridge

Buchanan County (Iowa) Engineer Brian Keierleber, P.E. stands by the new Jesup South Bridge.

Buchanan County (Iowa) Engineer Brian Keierleber, P.E. stands by the new Jesup South Bridge.

Before buying a big-ticket item, cost-conscious consumers usually begin by doing some research. They shop around to learn about the product; check out comments made online; and speak with colleagues, friends, and product specialists before making their decision. Selections are often made based on the product’s quality and by how much time or money can be saved by the buyer.

County engineers and other transportation officials who are responsible for repairing or replacing bridges in the short span category—140 feet or less—must also consider durability, cost-effectiveness and time savings when choosing a material. Recommendations from their colleagues can be important factors in these decisions.

The Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance (SSSBA) has put together a four-minute video that tells the story of the design and construction of the Jesup South Bridge in Buchanan County, Iowa by the professionals who were involved in all aspects of the project. The Jesup South Bridge was the first one built from an eSPAN140-generated design. eSPAN140 is a free, web-based, interactive design tool that produces customized steel designs in less than five minutes. Since its launch in 2012, more than 1,000 preliminary designs have been generated.

The original Jesup South Bridge was one of the most heavily traveled in Buchanan County, with a sufficiency rating of 49 and way too narrow for the big loads that traveled over it. The new bridge is now in service. In the video, you’ll hear from:

  • Brian Keierleber, P.E., County Engineer, Buchanan County, Iowa – While self-described as “not real computer-literate,” Brian found eSPAN140 very easy to use – and he’ll use it for future projects as well.
  • Dennis Gonano, Director of Engineering, U.S. Bridge – Dennis provides a fabricator’s perspective on taking the eSPAN140 design and turning it into customized steel beams for the bridge, as well as the benefits of hot-dip galvanizing.
  • Randy Andrews, Bridge Foreman, Buchanan County, Iowa – While this was a bigger job than Randy and his crew had undertaken before, they completed it on their own.
  • Karl Barth, Ph.D., Samples Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, West Virginia University and a lead team developer of eSPAN140 – Over the lifetime of the bridge, instrumentation placed by Dr. Barth is measuring construction load effects and how the bridge is meeting design code criteria.
  • Greg Michaelson, Ph.D., former Graduate Research Assistant at West Virginia University and now a professor at Marshall University – Dr. Michaelson comments on the bridge instrumentation.
  • Robert Wills, Vice President, Construction, Steel Market Development Institute – The Jesup South Bridge project shows county engineers that safe steel designs can be put in place very simply and cost-effectively, giving them confidence to use eSPAN140 for their own projects.

While eSPAN140 saved time by providing standardized preliminary designs, the use of steel saved money since the local crew was able to construct it, and no heavy equipment was required during the construction process.

The 76 companies that make up the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance invite you to take four minutes to see what your colleagues are saying about eSPAN140. Please go to www.ShortSpanSteelBridges.org and click on the video titled “Jesup South Bridge in Buchanan County, Iowa.” Then click on the eSPAN140 logo in the center of the home page and try eSPAN140 for yourself. We think that like Brian and his crew, you’ll like this one-stop shopping experience and will come back again. 

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 https://www.pullmarketer.com/. Dan can be contacted at dsnyder@steel.org.
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