Smart Ways to Save Time and Money on Short Span Bridge Design and Construction

While America’s infrastructure continues to crumble, federal lawmakers are still unresolved on how to fund these projects. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that an additional $150 billion per year is required through 2020 to meet the national infrastructure crisisBoggs Road Bridge

In the meantime, bridges continue to need repair or replacement. Short span bridges (140 feet or less) dominate the national inventory, and county engineers are forced to find innovative ways to fund and resource these projects. With the increasingly growing demand and continued gridlock for additional funding, what’s a county engineer to do? Here are some options to consider.

“Bundling” Bridges and Other Approaches With Cost-Saving Results

Going at it Alone
Buying in bulk to save costs works for groceries, and can also be applied to bridges. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) demonstrated this approach when it launched a $685 million Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program in September 2008, with the goal of having 802 bridge projects across each of its 114 counties completed by the end of 2014. Nearly 250 of those bridges were rehabilitation projects processed through the DOT’s monthly letting schedule, with 100 under contract by the spring of 2009. The remaining 554 bridges were complete replacements through a single design-build contract, which was undertaken by KTU Constructors.

The results are impressive – all 802 bridges were completed in just 3.5 years (more than a year ahead of schedule), with more than 90 percent of the work performed by Missouri workers (Read more here). This program was recognized with the People’s Choice Award in the 2013 America’s Transportation Awards competition sponsored by the American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA and the National Chamber of Commerce.

Public/Private Partnerships (P3)
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce defines this relationship as such: “A typical P3 works as a contract between a private entity and a state or local government to help finance and build a specified infrastructure project; the private partner may also take on responsibility for managing and maintaining the project. In return, the private entity is paid back through tolls, gas tax revenues or any associated fees. Read more here.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) took a P3 approach with its Rapid Bridge Replacement Program to address the state’s nearly 4,200 structurally deficient bridges. Approved in September 2013, this program was selected to replace 558 of those bridges, with the benefits of less construction time, significant cost savings for taxpayers, and minimal impact on the traveling public. In October 2014, Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners was selected as PennDOT’s private partner.

The bridges selected for the Rapid Bridge Replacement Program have similar characteristics, are relatively small and can be designed and constructed to standard sizes. Their similarity allows for streamlined design, prefabrication of standardized components such as beams, and a compressed time frame for replacement.

Under the contract, the company and its subcontractors will manage the bridges’ design, construction and maintenance for 25 years after construction is complete, while PennDOT maintains ownership of the bridges throughout the contract. Construction begins this summer, and all 558 bridges must be replaced within three years. Significant savings will be realized: The average cost for design, construction and maintenance per bridge in the project is $1.6 million; compared with PennDOT’s standard process, where the cost to design, construct and maintain a bridge for 28 years would average more than $2 million. The savings will be used to address other infrastructure needs. Read more here.

A New Approach Offering Even More Cost Savings
In a fairly new approach, some county engineers are crossing state lines to explore similar options to “bundle” their bridge projects with neighboring Departments of Transportation. This strategy empowers multiple states to combine their funding and workforce resources to get the most cost-effective and time-saving results.

County engineers can take additional steps to cut costs by choosing steel for their projects and using a new free, web-based tool, eSPAN140, to design them. The cost of a steel bridge can be lower than a concrete bridge, as demonstrated in a comparison study of two nearly identical short span bridges built with steel and concrete in Audrain County, Missouri. Researchers found that steel saved more than 25 percent over the concrete superstructure, with an overall 19.3% savings in the total cost of the structure. Read more here.

eSPAN140 delivers additional cost savings by providing simplified standard plans for rolled beam, plate girder, corrugated structural plate, and corrugated steel pipe structures. eSPAN140 also provides contact information for multiple fabricators with the capacity to replace hundreds of bridges quickly. To use eSPAN140, the user simply enters a minimum of three project requirements and receives customized design results in less than five minutes. Since its launch in 2012, more than 1,800 designs have been generated by eSPAN140.

With these resources readily available, steel is a logical choice for bundled solutions that save taxpayers and state DOTs even more time and money.

Using Local Crews
A new video is now in production that will provide comprehensive training for county crews on how to construct a short span steel bridge in 30 days. The work is demonstrated by a seasoned crew working on two bridge replacement projects in Muskingum County, Ohio – the Green Valley Road Bridge and the Boggs Road Bridge. The use of local crews is a proven cost-saving measure in the construction of short span bridges.

To learn more about the cost-effective benefits of steel or to request a free workshop for your state’s Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) Center, contact Dan Snyder at

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Joining the National Focus on America’s Infrastructure Challenges

Tub Girders - WVU Lab 1 - Mar 2014 low res

The press-brake-formed tub girder is a cost-effective new technology for short span steel bridge design. Learn more at a free webinar on May 12 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT.

For one week this month, several prominent organizations representing business, labor and public policy will focus on the United States’ infrastructure challenges. They will host events and activities to “highlight the critical importance of investing in and modernizing America’s infrastructure systems, and the essential role infrastructure plays in our economy.” Infrastructure Week 2015 will be held from May 11-15.

The steel industry is participating with a free webinar on “Innovative, Cost-Effective Options for Short Span Steel Bridge Design” being held Tuesday, May 12 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm EDT. In cooperation with the American Iron and Steel Institute and the American Galvanizers Association, the webinar will be conducted by Dr. Greg Michaelson, Professor at the Weisberg Division of Engineering at Marshall University and a member of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance. Continuing education credits are available. Register for the free webinar here.

Dr. Michaelson will discuss a new technology for short span bridges with the potential to deliver significant cost savings for bridge owners and shorter construction times for crews (and thus fewer traffic delays). This press-brake-formed tub girder technology consists of modular galvanized shallow trapezoidal boxes fabricated from cold-bent structural steel plate. Several different options are available for the deck, including precast concrete and sandwich plate systems (SPS). These modular units can then be transported by truck to the bridge site. Read about the research here.

The new system offers several advantages:

  • It’s modular, so it can be quickly transported to the construction site.
  • It can be installed in one or two days.
  • It’s simple to fabricate and install.
  • It can save significant fabrication costs.
  • It requires fewer details.
  • It can be used for both tangent and skewed configurations, as well as simple and continuous spans.
  • It has the potential to cost-effectively replace thousands of short span bridges in need of repair or replacement.
  • It has the potential to open business opportunities for bridge fabricators that want to manufacture the units.

The first two bridge projects utilizing this system will be constructed this year in Iowa and West Virginia. The Amish Sawmill Bridge in Buchanan County, Iowa will be constructed with an FHWA Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment (IBRD) program grant, starting in late summer. Several potential sites are currently being evaluated in West Virginia, with construction anticipated to begin in late summer as well.

During the webinar, Dr. Michaelson will also discuss an innovative new design tool, eSPAN140, which is free, web-based, and delivers customized preliminary short span steel bridge design in three steps and under five minutes. The Jesup South Bridge in Buchanan County, Iowa was the first bridge in the nation to be built from an eSPAN140 design. Read more here.

Join the discussion during Infrastructure Week 2015. Register for the free webinar, and check out the other events being held. For more information on press-brake-formed tub girders and other cost-effective short span steel bridge solutions, please contact Dan Snyder at

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Muskingum County’s Short Span Steel Bridge Solution – Quicker, More Cost-Effective and Constructed in 30 Days!

When the Muskingum County (Ohio) Engineers Office (MCEO) Boggs Road Bridge - Muskingum County OH - June 2014needed to replace the structurally deficient Boggs Road Bridge near Zanesville, a detailed engineering analysis was conducted to compare the cost of replacing the existing bridge with steel or concrete.

The original 33-foot bridge built in the 1950s was showing signs of deterioration, and weight limits had been imposed. Muskingum County Engineer Douglas R. Davis, P.E., P.S., compared the cost of five galvanized steel beams with the cost of six concrete box beams which were needed to replace the bridge superstructure. His engineering analysis found that:

  • He could save $10,000 by choosing the five galvanized steel beams for the superstructure.
  • He could use his local crew to do the work since they would not need a crane to set the 1.5-ton steel beams, saving significant costs on materials and equipment rental.
  • He was able to secure a 35-year warranty on the galvanized coating system and the ability to rehabilitate the steel in the future.

Additional costs were attained by designing the 24-foot wide steel beam structure in-house. The new Boggs Road Bridge was constructed of five beam lines, five-feet on center covered with a nine-inch-thick cast-in-place composite concrete reinforced deck with no skew, placed on new concrete abutments with spread footings.

The superstructure was fabricated by U.S. Bridge in Cambridge, Ohio and hot-dip galvanized prior to delivery. MCEO crews began the removal and replacement of the bridge on May 20, 2014, and the new bridge reopened to traffic just one month later. Click here for details on the construction process.

MCEO likes steel, and approximately 60 percent of the county’s 415 bridges are steel. The inventory includes 42 steel truss bridges (one built in 1913), three steel girders, 186 steel beam bridges and 19 steel culverts (buried soil steel structures).

Why choose steel? Because steel is:

  • Strong and economical for the county’s typical span lengths.
  • Easy to fabricate and construct.
  • Easy to install, with a strength-to-weight ratio that allows most structures to be erected without the use of a crane.
  • Easy to maintain and repair, which promotes structure longevity.
  • Recyclable and reusable, allowing steel structures to be reused or repurposed in other locations, saving tens of thousands of dollars.

A new web-based design tool, eSPAN140, allows users to receive preliminary customized short span steel bridge designs in three easy steps and at no cost, with results in less than five minutes.

Do you have a creative short span steel bridge solution? Click here to tell us about it.

Posted in Accelerated Bridge Design and Construction, Bridge Design Economics, County Bridges, eSPAN140, Installation, Material Recycling, Plate Girder, short span bridge design tools, Short Span Bridges, Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance, Steel Bridges, Superstructure, Sustainability | Leave a comment

Ohio County Finds Creative, Sustainable Steel Solutions for Bridge Replacement

Green Valley Muskingum County completed bridgeMuskingum County (Ohio) Engineer Doug Davis, P.E., P.S. and his team have found a creative, sustainable way to replace short span bridges while saving taxpayers money. How? They use recycled steel bridge beams.

In a recent project near Zanesville, the team repurposed W33x141 beams salvaged from a previous bridge replacement in the county to replace the Green Valley Road Bridge superstructure. The new bridge is 52 feet long and 20 feet wide with five beam lines, four feet on center.

Why use recycled steel beams? For Davis, it’s a matter of cost. He saved the county $51,000 in superstructure costs by using the repurposed beams. “When the span length, beam size, and hydraulic opening allow, we always consider the use of previously removed beams or beams that are currently in service as part of structures that are scheduled to be replaced,” he says.

The Green Valley Road Bridge is the fifth in his county to be replaced with repurposed steel beams.

Davis finds his steel beams from a local fabricator and an iron recycling/scrap yard. “In our sustainable, fiscally strapped world, we firmly believe that one person’s metal scrap can be repurposed to help modernize our infrastructure,” he says.

Using steel also saves costs because short span steel bridges are light in weight and can typically be constructed with on-hand tools and equipment using local work crews.

Significant costs can also be realized in the design phase. The Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance offers a free, web-based tool called eSPAN140 that allows users to design steel bridges of less than 140 feet in fewer than five minutes. Users can access the tool at and follow three easy steps to receive customized preliminary designs.

Creative, sustainable steel solutions are essential to rebuilding the nation’s short span bridges, and Muskingum County, Ohio is on the cutting edge. For more information on the Green Valley Road Bridge project, click here. For more information on the benefits of steel for short span bridge design and construction, visit or contact Dan Snyder at

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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; 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,
  • Videos – Short clips on two important projects are included on the SSSBA website,
    • 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

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“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 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. 

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Improving the Grade for America’s Structurally Deficient Bridges

Dr. Karl Barth conducts a test on the new shallow steel press-brake tub girder technology.

Dr. Karl Barth and his team are developing a new shallow steel press-brake tub girder technology that will significantly impact short span bridge design.

As the Samples Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at West Virginia University, Dr. Karl Barth knows a thing or two about giving and receiving grades. So when he sees a C+ assigned to the condition of bridges in the United States by The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in its 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, he’s motivated to bump the grade up. And as technical director for the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance’s (SSSBA) Bridge Technology Center, he has some ideas on how to do it.

Approximately one-half of the bridges cited in the ASCE report are short span bridges (those under 140 feet), and most are owned and maintained by local governments. Two of the biggest challenges standing in the way of repairing or replacing these bridges are time and cost restraints. Barth says that steel has solutions for both.

Design Phase – Steel Saves Time. In 2012, a free online tool that provides standardized short span steel bridge designs was introduced to the marketplace. The new tool, eSPAN140, also connects bridge owners with SSSBA member companies that can take the project from design to completion. By using standardized designs and making available specific contact information for companies that can complete the project, eSPAN140 speeds up the time it takes to construct the bridge and cuts down on design and construction costs. Dr. Barth and a team of 30 experts from the steel and bridge construction industries reviewed more than 3,000 designs over several years during the development of eSPAN140.

“What eSPAN140 does is allow county engineers to go online and input some very simple geometric property information and from the standard designs we’ve developed, receive a set of preliminary bridge plans,” explained Barth. “Now they have a way for getting a steel solution on the table in less than five minutes, where before it would have taken several days and additional personnel.

“When looking at short span bridges, most situations do not require complex designs,” said Barth. ”Therefore, the standardized plans provided by eSPAN140 can greatly reduce the amount of time required to design a short span bridge.”

The Jesup South Bridge in Buchanan County, Iowa was designed with eSPAN140 and went into service in November 2013. The story behind the bridge is included in an April 14, 2014 article in Roads and Bridges.

Construction Phase – Steel Saves Money. According to Barth, steel can be more cost-effective, sustainable, lighter and more aesthetically pleasing than alternative materials for short span bridge construction. Steel can be less expensive because: 1) fewer girders may be required for the project, 2) most city and county governments can use smaller cranes to install the lighter steel beams, and 3) in many cases, local work crews can be utilized to construct the bridge.

The Next Phase – New Technology. Dr. Barth and his team at West Virginia University have developed and are testing a steel option for new and replacement bridges that could speed up the construction process and reduce the cost of the superstructure. This innovative accelerated bridge construction (ABC) technique involves a shallow steel press-brake tub girder technology that consists of modular shallow trapezoidal boxes (either galvanized or made from weathering steel) and is fabricated from cold-bent structural steel plate. The deck can be precast on the girder, and the modular units can be hauled by trucks to the bridge site.

The first demonstration bridge using this new technology will begin construction in 2015 in Buchanan County, Iowa. The Amish Sawmill Bridge will be constructed with funding from the Federal Highway Administration’s Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment (IBRD) program. When completed, Dr. Barth will conduct field testing on the bent plate system to validate design assumptions and evaluate performance over the long term. This new system could significantly impact future best design practices, and other states have already expressed interest in initiating projects of their own.

For more information on the benefits of steel for short span bridge design and construction, contact Dan Snyder at

Posted in Accelerated Bridge Design and Construction, Bridge Design Economics, County Bridges, eSPAN140, FHWA, Iowa Demonstration, Prefabricated Bridges, short span bridge design tools, Short Span Bridges, Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance, Steel Bridges, Superstructure, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Standardization for Bridge Design

High Point Lane Bridge, Boone County, MO

High Point Lane Bridge, Boone County, MO

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is undertaking a massive rapid-bridge replacement program and conducting it in a way that makes a lot of sense. Bernard Harris details the process in “Public-Private Partnerships Reinventing PennDOT” (LancasterOnline, May 14, 2014).

In 2012, Pennsylvania passed a Public-Private Partnership law which allows other companies to review the services that PennDOT provides and propose ways to improve upon them. This gives PennDOT the opportunity to provide services more quickly, efficiently, and at lower cost while transferring the cost of projects to the private sector.

The largest Public-Private Partnership under consideration would replace 550-650 of the state’s deteriorated bridges under one contract. State Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch told construction industry professionals that he anticipates savings of as much as 40 percent in the design cost of each bridge. This is due to the fact that the same bridge design will be replicated throughout the state. He also expects to save 30 percent of construction costs because the same materials will be used for each project.

The reason that PennDOT Secretary Schoch can confidently assume these significant savings is because these bridge designs and materials will be standardized, rather than having to be designed and built individually. In addition to significant resource cost savings, hundreds of hours will be saved on what would have been spent on design.

The standardization of bridge designs makes a lot of sense. In 2012, the steel industry introduced standardized designs for short span steel bridges – those under 140 feet – through a free, web-based tool known as eSPAN140. To access the tool, county engineers and other bridge design professionals visit, type in a few parameters such as span length, width and the number of striped traffic lanes, and receive customized steel solutions in a PDF file in five minutes or less. The Steel Solutions document includes standard designs for rolled beam, plate girder, and buried soil steel structures. It also includes contact information for individuals and companies that can help build the bridge. For any questions related to the design, users can get free expert advice from the Bridge Technology Center. It’s that easy.

Even better, the bridges can be built with local work crews. Buchanan County (Iowa)

Engineer Brian Keierleber, P.E., and his crew just finished the Jesup South Bridge, which was designed with eSPAN140. Keierleber is already planning another eSPAN140-designed project.

Boone County (Missouri) Engineer Derin Campbell used the preliminary designs from eSPAN140 for the High Point Lane Bridge, the first plate girder short span steel bridge built using this tool. The bridge was fabricated and installed by DeLong’s, Inc., a Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance member and one of the manufacturers whose steel solutions are included in eSPAN140.

Standard steel bridge designs are a powerful cost-saving and time-saving tool for county, state and federal transportation officials. With a design tool that’s free to use – eSPAN140 – and delivers results in less than five minutes, it makes perfect sense to find out what it can do for you.

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Make Your Voice Heard in the Call to Repair America’s Infrastructure

Repairing America’s infrastructure is a national challenge, impacting all of us where we live, every day. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, counties are responsible for more than half of the United States’ nearly 67,000 structurally deficient bridges. Most of these are short span structures of 140 feet or less.

To repair or replace them, officials rely on funding from cash-strapped local and state governments (see related SSSBA blog), or from the federal government through the Highway Trust Fund. The U.S. Department of Transportation has warned that this fund will likely encounter a shortfall before the end of FY 2014, and if no new legislation is passed before that deadline, then new and ongoing construction projects slated for 2015 cannot be funded.

Congress needs to act now. In order to draw national attention to this situation, AISI and the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance are joining several organizations—including the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the National Association of Manufacturers, and others—during Infrastructure Week 2014 to: “…explore emerging solutions, innovative approaches, and best practices being developed nationwide to modernize aging infrastructure.” The week of May 12-16 will include daily signature events that “focus on the consequences of (Congress’) inaction and the importance of interconnected infrastructure that provides a safe, secure, and competitive climate for business operations nationwide.”

As part of the Infrastructure Week 2014 events, Dr. Michael Barker from the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance will conduct a free webinar on Economical Design Tools and Cost Analysis of Short Span Steel Bridges on Tuesday, May 13 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EDT. The webinar will be conducted through the American Galvanizer Association’s GalvanizeIt! Webinar series (Register here). CEU, LU and PDH credits are available.

In another national legislative effort, construction employees are encouraged to contact their Congressional representatives through Hardhats for Highways, a national campaign to directly impact funding for the Highway Trust Fund by encouraging Congress to pass multi-year authorization of transportation funding and increase the nation’s infrastructure investment. The website includes general information and ways to participate.

An Immediate Solution. County engineers can save significant costs on designs for steel bridges of 140 feet or less with the free, easy-to-use, web-based design tool eSPAN140. The tool has already generated more than 1,000 preliminary short span steel bridge designs, each customized and delivered to the user via a Steel Solutions PDF document in five minutes or less.

eSPAN140 is quick and efficient. Check out the experiences of Buchanan County (Iowa) Engineer Brian Keierleber, P.E. on the Jesup South demonstration bridge and Boone County (Missouri) Engineer Derin Campbell on the High Point Lane Bridge, the first plate girder short span steel bridge built from an eSPAN140 design.

Act today and make an impact in two ways: 1) Participate in Infrastructure Week 2014 and Hardhats for Highways, and 2) Investigate how steel solutions with eSPAN140 can save you significant time and costs on your upcoming short span bridge projects.

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First Plate Girder Short Span Steel Bridge is Built Using Design From eSPAN140

???????????????????????????????The High Point Lane Bridge in Boone County, Missouri is one of a kind―the first plate girder bridge built utilizing preliminary designs generated from the free, web-based design tool eSPAN140, created specifically for bridges that span less than 140 feet.

The bridge is located just outside of Columbia, Missouri and crosses the Little Bonne Femme Creek. The original bridge was too narrow, had a poor roadway alignment, and no longer served the needs of the residents in a growing part of the county. 

Chris Criswell from Bartlett & West is the Engineer of Record for the project. He had learned of eSPAN140 during a presentation made by Michael Barker, Ph.D., P.E., a member of the Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance’s (SSSBA) Bridge Technology Center, at a conference hosted by the Transportation Engineers Association of Missouri. Chris input the project parameters into eSPAN140 and received customized, cost-effective preliminary design results in less than five minutes. Based on the ease of design and cost efficiencies outlined in his Steel Solutions file―as well as additional efficiencies realized with short span steel bridges through their ease of installation, use of local crews, and light weight―he decided that steel provided the most cost-effective material option for the project.

The project called for a two-lane bridge with a length of 102 feet, a web 44 inches deep, and an overall girder height of 46-1/4 inches using weathering steel plate. Weathering steel was chosen due to the cost efficiencies it provides and for its ability to blend in with natural surroundings.

The bridge was fabricated and installed by DeLong’s Inc., a Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance member and one of the manufacturers whose steel solutions are included in eSPAN140. Ryan Wisch, project manager for DeLong’s Inc. in Jefferson City, Missouri (who worked on the Boone County project), explained: “eSPAN140 can save so much time because it provides standard designs and details, which help to expedite the overall design of the structure to ultimately reduce the overall project delivery time. From the designs generated in eSPAN140, we were able to provide a price estimate for the cost of the superstructure of the High Point Lane Bridge in less than 24 hours. Plate girders provided the most cost-effective option for this project, which is typical for bridges of more than 100 feet.”

eSPAN140 also includes customized design details such as elastomeric bearings, bearing stiffeners, intermediate and end diaphragms and connections, and modular bridge and coating systems. All are available from SSSBA member companies, whose contact information is included in each eSPAN140 Steel Solutions file. Complimentary technical support is available from experts at the Bridge Technology Center, whose members can be contacted here.

Boone County Engineer Derin Campbell and Bartlett & West’s Chris Criswell made the right choice. Criswell notes that eSPAN140 is a great tool, which he highly recommends for preliminary design and cost estimating. High Point Lane Bridge was constructed in the spring of 2013 and now handles more than 600 cars daily. While Boone County residents are enjoying their new weathering steel bridge, DeLong’s is in the process of constructing another plate girder bridge that utilized the preliminary designs from eSPAN140 for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

To learn more about eSPAN140 and to try out your own short span steel bridge design, click here.

For information on the recently completed eSPAN140 demonstration bridge in Buchanan County, Iowa, click here.

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