Serving Drivers with Instant Bridge Replacement

John Schwartz reports on a bridge replacement technique that demonstrates innovation in construction, as well as customer service.
April 19, 2012, 9am PDT | jerinbrent
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The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has recently shifted their approach to highway projects. Administrator, Frank DePaola, describes how the department has been so narrowly focused on construction and road projects that they've lost sight of the fact that they work for the local drivers, not the contractors.

Gov. Deval Patrick points out, ""It's their money, after all. And it's their broken bridge."

Massachusetts is leading the charge with an innovative bridge replacement technique meant to alleviate the inconvenience to drivers when projects drag on for years. "Accelerated bridge construction" is being employed across the state to build and replace critical infrastructure as quickly as possible, sometimes as quick as a weekend.

NYT reportor John Schwartz observed the completion of Boston's River Street Bridge. Using the new accelerated technique, workers began constructing the superstructure a year ago on an adjacent lot. Upon completion, the old bridge was deconstructed, precast concrete caps were placed on the existing bridge abutments and the new bridge was slipped in "like the world's biggest Lego block."

While Massachusetts is leading the way, accelerated bridge construction is picking up steam across the country. San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is getting a prefabricated makeover one section at a time so as to avoid full road closure. The new technique is not only faster and avoids lengthy traffic detours, but it also tends to cost about the same or less as traditional bridge replacement projects.

Thanks to Jessica Brent

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Published on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in The New York Times
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