SR 288 Main St. Bridge, Wampum, USA - Accelerated Bridge Construction

08.04.2016
 

It’s no secret that thousands of bridges across the U.S. are in dire need of replacement or repair. Today, numerous U.S. state DOTs are employing some of the latest bridge technology in order to meet the challenge of maintaining and/or replacing hundreds of bridges each year. In many cases, faster is better which has resulted in a growing demand for Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) and the use of prefabricated/precast bridge elements connected with Ductal® Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC).

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Prefabricated / precast structure

At the recent 2014 National Accelerated Bridge Construction Conference *, the “Best ABC Project” Award (Prefabricated Bridge Element System category) was presented to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation form an innovative ABC replacement project which utilized precast and Ductal® solutions: the State Route 288 Main Street Bridge in Wampum. The old, single span concrete arch structure was replaced (in August, 2014) with 3 side-by-side, 78 ft long prefabricated bridge modules. Each module consisted of two steel I-beams with a concrete deck on top. Ductal® UHPC Joint Fill was used to connect the precast deck elements and for the integral abutments. Additional precast elements consisted of decked steel beam modules with barriers, abutment caps and wing walls.

Thanks to the ABC methods used on this project, the bridge re-opened to traffic in less than 7 days!

* The ABC Conference, held in Miami, Florida Dec. 4-5, was co-sponsored by State DOTs and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Attendees included DOT engineers and other bridge professionals including consultants, material suppliers, fabricators, contractors, academia and government representatives. The ABC Conference Awards program showcases and recognizes talented individuals and innovative projects advancing the ABC initiative. ABC is a paradigm shift in the project planning where the need to minimize mobility impacts which occur due to on site construction activities are elevated to a higher priority. Intrinsic benefits of ABC include improvements in safety, quality, durability, social costs, and environmental impacts.

 

Two questions for Louis J. Ruzzi, Bridge Engineer, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District 11-0.

How did you use UHPC in this project?
 
UHPC was used to connect the three superstructures and three approach slab units - all prefabricated elements. The prefabricated superstructure elements are modular units that consist of a full-depth, pre-decked topping supported by two steel I-beams. The approach slabs were also full-depth, prefabricated slab panels.
 
What are the advantages of the UHPC method?
 
The intended benefit of using UHPC is to accommodate the need to accelerate construction with a durable connection for the prefabricated modular units and prefabricated approach slabs. The material (which possesses steel fibers to obtain its characteristics) is used in conjunction with reinforcing steel to create a joint that is stronger than the connected elements. It essentially transfers full moment and shear across the joint - which addresses our concerns for differential deflections causing longitudinal cracking. 
The material properties offered enhanced durability properties that we, as an Owner, like to see. For example, the permeability of UHPC is essentially zero which, for a state that uses a lot of de-icing salts, is a tremendous benefit. Because of the steel fibers and zero permeability, our concerns for the performance of the joint (if transverse cracking was to occur) were eliminated. Lastly, the manner in which we prepped the joint and installed the material offered superior bonding characteristics, meaning that any deck leakage at the precast joint interfaces and the UHPC is no longer a concern. It’s all about finding better, more efficient ways to accelerate construction without forgoing quality.
 

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The intended benefit of using UHPC is to accommodate the need to accelerate construction with a durable connection for the prefabricated modular units and prefabricated approach slabs

Louis J. Ruzzi, Bridge Engineer, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation