Taking on America’s Infrastructure Challenge, One County at a Time

ScBuchanan County Bridge Crewhedule a complimentary technology transfer session today!

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gives the U.S. a “C+” for its bridges, stating that: “In total, one in nine of the nation’s bridges are rated as structurally deficient, while the average age of the nation’s 607,380 bridges is currently 42 years.”

According to the National Association of County Engineers, more than 231,000 U.S. bridges are owned by counties. Most of these are classified as short span bridges of less than 140 feet. The common challenge faced by these counties is a huge demand for bridge repair/replacement, but insufficient funds available to meet it.

Now, tools and information are available to meet this formidable challenge. The Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance (SSSBA) has developed design tools and implemented technology transfer sessions for county engineers, bridge owners and designers to equip them to move forward. Steel is an optimal material for short span bridges, ensuring durability, speed of design and construction, ease of installation, light weight, the use of local crews, cost-effectiveness and time efficiencies.

The SSSBA offers these tools and technology transfer sessions:

  • eSPAN140 – A free, web-based design tool that provides customized short span steel bridge solutions in less than five minutes. To access this tool, users go to espan140.com; type in the parameters for their projects such as span length, width and the number of striped traffic lanes; and receive customized preliminary designs and the names of suppliers and fabricators who can take the project from concept through completion. Since 2012, more than 1,300 preliminary designs have been generated by eSPAN140.
  • Short Span Steel Bridge Workshops – The SSSBA offers complimentary educational on-site workshops specifically for Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) and Tribal Technical Assistance Program (TTAP) Centers. The half-day workshops provide practical information on the safe and cost-effective design, detail, fabrication and installation of short span steel bridges (under 140 feet)―including information on standardized designs developed by the bridge industry.
  • Steel Bridge Forum – The SSSBA and the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) team up to conduct one-day workshops that cover short-, medium- and long-span steel bridge design, and associate research. The Steel Bridge Forums are conducted throughout the U.S. and are ideal for Departments of Transportation. The next Steel Bridge Forum will be held November 19, 2014 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • National/Regional Bridge Conferences – SSSBA representatives and county engineers discuss short span steel bridge design and construction at several conferences throughout the year. The following events are scheduled for the remainder of 2014:
    • SSSBA representatives are hosting three sessions at the National Accelerated Bridge Construction Conference, December 3-5, in Miami, Florida:
      1) “Guidelines for the Design of Efficient Steel Bridges Using AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications” (Pre-Conference) | December 3, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      2) “Development of Economical Short Span Steel Bridge Standards” | December 4, 2014 | 2:50 p.m. – 3:10 p.m.
      3) “Development of a Press-Brake-Formed Modular Steel Tub Girder for Accelerated Bridge Construction” | December 5, 2014 | 10:50 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.
    • Iowa’s Muskingum County Engineer Doug Davis, P.E., P.S. will discuss his team’s choice of steel in the design and construction of two new short span bridges at the Iowa County Engineers Conference on December 10 at 9 am. in Ames, Iowa.
  • Webinars – The SSSBA hosts one-hour webinars on short span steel bridge design that are eligible for Professional Development Hours (PDHs), conducted by Dr. Michael Barker at the University of Wyoming, Dr. Karl Barth at West Virginia University, and special guest speakers.
  • Ask an Expert –The SSSBA offers complimentary design support for questions relating to bridge and buried soil steel structure design through its Bridge Technology Center. The topics include standard design and details of short span bridges (plate girder and rolled beams, corrugated steel pipe and structural plate), prefabricated short span steel solutions, durability solutions, and more.
  • Case Studies – Efficiencies in design, cost and time on specific projects are documented in case studies on the SSSBA website, ShortSpanSteelBridges.org.
  • Videos – Short clips on two important projects are included on the SSSBA website, ShortSpanSteelBridges.org:
    • An overview of the design and construction of the first bridge built with an eSPAN140 design ― the Jesup South Bridge in Buchanan County, Iowa ― as told by the engineers who worked on the project.
    • A cost comparison of two nearly identical bridges in Audrain County, Missouri ― one built with steel and the other with concrete ― in which the steel short span superstructure provided a 25.8% cost savings over the concrete bridge, with an overall 19.3% savings in the total cost of the structure.
    • In 2015, a training video that demonstrates the installation of a short span steel bridge from start to finish will be posted on the website.

America’s infrastructure is in crisis, but there are long-lasting, cost-effective steel solutions available now to meet the challenge, county by county. If you have not considered or used steel in the design of short span bridges, we invite you to review the information available and to try eSPAN140 for one of your own projects.

For more information or to schedule a workshop, seminar or speaker, please contact Dan Snyder, SSSBA Director of Business Development, at dsnyder@steel.org.

About Rich Tavoletti

Rich Tavoletti is Director of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance. He is also Director of the Container Market program for the Steel Market Development Institute, a business unit of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and Executive Director of the Canned Food Alliance. Rich has extensive experience in marketing and communications. He was marketing manager at the Steel Recycling Institute. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at rtavoletti@steel.org.
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