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A crisis on a construction site can mean a lot of different things; a natural disaster, medical emergency, hazardous materials or accidents, and more. No matter what it is, a crisis will always have a huge impact on job sites and project funding. The best way to mitigate its effects is with a well-developed crisis management plan. But how do you plan for the unexpected?

The Importance of a Crisis Management Plan

A crisis in any job occupation is a mess and naturally the same applies to construction. It affects all subcontractors, trades, and shipments involved in the project. Plus the delay means a potential loss of money and credibility. A company or crew that can successfully navigate that kind of situation not only proves its leadership and adaptability but also leaves a positive impression.

A prompt and well-organized response will minimize the negative effects of a crisis on the project and your business.

Identify Potential Crises

In order to properly plan for something, you need to know what exactly you’re planning for. Obviously, this becomes tricky when you’re trying to plan for something unexpected. But one way to make it easier is to identify every potential crisis in a project before construction even begins. Even if it never actually happens it’s good to acknowledge every area of the project that could go wrong or that could be a potential danger to the crew. Once you thoroughly identify every potential crisis then you are able to take the next step of the planning process.

Develop a Response

With your list of potential crises, you can now begin crafting a practical strategy. The best crisis management plan is tailored to the construction project and takes location, type of construction, and external conflict into consideration. Understanding what and who is needed for each crisis early on will help you establish a well-planned and effective response. Using this information, create step-by-step templates for different emergency situations. This guide should include a list of risk factors, site hazards, and each person’s role before, during, and after the crisis.

Now, you can then begin to consider what resources such as equipment and materials are needed to address the situation. In addition, you should predetermine your evacuation routes and communication line beforehand and confirm that your crew knows as well.

Establish a Communication Line

An important part of your crisis management plan is establishing a line of communication with local off-site first-aid responders such as hospitals, police, and fire departments. Connecting first responders with construction engineers, project managers, or others who have a thorough understanding of the job site will speed the crisis response. In addition, develop an efficient method to communicate with employees and their families in emergency situations.

The coordination of a well-developed crisis management plan will help you not only handle the crisis as it happens but become pivotal in the investigation of the crisis afterward.

Train your Team

A good crisis management plan is only helpful if your team actually knows it. Training will help your team recognize their areas of weakness as well as any weaknesses in the plan itself. Include a safety checklist to determine how prepared your team and job site are for a real crisis.

Create a system or policy that confirms that training is updated regularly to ensure the best results. Conducting mock drills and training will not only reinforce the plan to your crew but also produce a prompt and well-trained response.

Consider the Aftereffects 

The crisis doesn’t just end when the emergency is over. As a business, it’s important that you have a public relations strategy prepared to avoid causing irreparable damage to the company. This plan of action should specify what you can and can’t say as well as who will be overseeing public announcements. It’s important to have a strategy in place beforehand when you have more time to think than make a mistake in the heat of the moment.

Working with U.S. Bridge

Our 80 years of construction experience is why we can handle construction projects of various caliber. We are confident that our engineering and manufacturing expertise is just what you’re looking for to complete your project! Contact us on our website to learn more about how we can turn your project into a success or fill out our exclusive BridgeScope tool for a quick quote.

Have you ever driven over a bridge and wondered how old it was? In the United States alone there are more than 617,000 bridges, 12% of which are aged 80 years or older. But were all those bridges created at the same time or with the same method? What exactly is the typical lifespan of a bridge? And how many bridges are considered structurally deficient?

Contributing Elements to a Bridge’s Lifespan

Nowadays, bridges have become a natural part of everyday life. Your daily commute may even consist of traveling through a bridge or maybe two. Since they are vital to our economy and public safety, the government periodically mandates national bridge inspections to determine structurally deficient bridges.

Ultimately, there is no one number that fits the lifespan of all bridges across America. Each bridge has its own expected lifecycle but there are ways to estimate its lifespan. Generally, it’s believed that bridges are expected to function for 50-70 years however this is often not the case. Currently, only 42% of all bridges in the United States are at least 50 years old.

The lifespan of a bridge differs according to its design, construction, and location. Each component contributes either positively or negatively to the overall lifespan and structure of a bridge.

Materials

One of the most obvious factors that contribute to the lifespan and eventual structural deficits of a bridge is the material. In fact, both the concrete industry and the steel industry claim several advantages above the other for the Life Cycle Costs of a bridge.

Steel

Steel is a popular construction material due to its flexible and durable nature. The great thing about steel is that it is recyclable and still maintains its initial strength and integrity. Galvanized steel is even more durable plus it requires less upkeep.

Structural steel is a high-quality material that is readily available worldwide in certified grades and produced in various shapes and sizes. Currently, it is estimated that steel bridges have a lifespan of over 100 years. However, this number rapidly decreases as the bridge erodes or even with poor construction quality.

The deterioration of a bridge is created by a combination of several elements, for steel, it is often caused by corrosion, fatigue, stress corrosion, and damage from accidents.

Concrete

Another commonly utilized material is concrete. Concrete bridges are estimated to have a lifespan of over 100 years, again this number changes with daily wear and tear.

The causes of concrete deterioration are typically cracking, spalling, scaling, corrosion, and damage from accidents. In addition, cracks over reinforced steel allow water and chemicals to penetrate accelerating rusting which exerts great forces that pop the concrete.

Not to mention, extreme weather conditions, the presence of chlorides in de-icing salts, and cycles of freeze and thaw all contribute to the erosion of a bridge and its lifespan.

Timber

Timber, which is used for short-span and rural areas or pedestrian bridges is estimated to last only 20–30 years. This could be due to several reasons such as many engineers are less familiar with this material than their counterparts, or because there are fewer treatment options available for timber.

Nevertheless, the accurate range of which timber lasts is uncertain as there are very few data that exist that are based on actual performance data.

However, that doesn’t make timber a poor option. Timber is a lightweight material compared to concrete but still strong. This advantage plus low maintenance and repair costs make timber ideal in certain situations.

Plus studies suggest that timber is a durable option in highway bridge superstructures and that it can perform well for more than 70 years when properly pressure-treated with preservatives.

Location

The location of a bridge plays an instrumental part in its overall structural deficiency. Depending on the environment, it could accelerate the deterioration of the bridge.

Recently, there has been a slightly positive trend in addressing the maintenance of structurally deficient bridges. However, progress is not universal because states face different challenges when it comes to maintaining, repairing, and replacing bridges.

Urban

When it comes to urban locations, the major factor to watch out for is a higher traffic volume. The combination of a heavier load and volume further leads to the wear of the bridge. There are various ways for builders to slow this process down such as galvanization and other special treatments.

Rural

Unlike urban settings, rural bridges don’t have such a large volume of traffic. Unfortunately, it is because of this that rural bridges are typically not designed to withstand the growing numbers and weight of traffic and freight trucks. In actuality, rural bridges and transportation play a key role in our economy’s success and for rural communities.

However, more and more bridges in rural communities are experiencing rapid deterioration without the proper care and maintenance to last.

Coastal

Bridges that are located in coastal environments face unique challenges due to their location. Bridges in marine environments often experience corrosion-induced damage due to high sea salt and humidity. In addition, strength loss in the splash and the tidal zone is more common and significant than in the atmospheric zone.

An example of the distinct problems faced by coastal bridges is illustrated by the Morandi Bridge in Italy. In 2018, this cable-stayed bridge suddenly collapsed causing the death of 43 individuals. The collapse was reported as the fault of a weakened cable that deteriorated from corrosion. The degradation was caused by atmospheric agents and the proximity of the marine environment eroded the structure and integrity of the bridge.

Structural Deficient Bridges in America

Structurally deficient bridges are those that are in need of repair or maintenance due to the deterioration incurred throughout the bridge’s lifetime. Recently, 7.5% of highway bridges were designated structurally deficient. This is a striking improvement from the previous 12% record. In addition, the average age of America’s bridges is increasing to 44 years.

The plan is that the overall lifespan of a bridge should increase over time as more techniques, treatments, and designs are discovered in the future.

Build a Bridge that will Last Lifetimes with U.S. Bridge

Are you looking for an experienced industry leader company to assist with your building projects? Here at U.S. Bridge, we’ve built for different projects all across the globe; and we know that choosing the right material for your bridge takes a combination of experience, expertise, and skill.

To learn more about our bridge engineering and manufacturing, contact us for a quote or to answer any questions. Or start building your scope and bridge with our new interactive tool the Bridge Scope.

Proper bridge construction management is necessary to keep a project organized and completed within the budget and schedule. However, managing such a large project such as a bridge’s construction may seem daunting, so we’ve listed some of the best practices for maximizing your chance of success.

Determine the Scope of the Project

Like in any other industry, proper management is essential to a construction project’s success. What’s the best way to pre-plan your project and effectively manage it? Well, a great solution is by working with key stakeholders to determine an accurate scope of the project.

Understanding the scope is one of the first steps in the successful management of bridge construction. This means taking the time to create a thorough breakdown of what’s required for the project such as:

  • Identifying what is within or out of scope.
  • Noting the work required, the team performing the work, and the schedule of its completion.
  • Include any important elements that may impact the outcome.
  • Determining the constraints that might limit or negatively impact the outcome of the project such as resources, procurement issues, timing, etc.

Once you work out the scope, you can now move on to planning project decisions such as deck construction, railing criteria, live loads, etc.

Start Creating Plans and Strategies Early

Your planning process is essentially how you will achieve the goals set out within the scope. The reality is that while a project of the highest quality scope, at the lowest price, done in the least amount of time is ideal, it is difficult to achieve. Hence, a strategy-based process is necessary to achieve your overall objective.

Understanding your project’s success metrics is key to streamlining the decision-making process. In other words, determine project components such as feasibility, procurement, construction, close-out, and more to effectively work towards accomplishing the goal. In addition, as the project progresses you should continually refer to your detailed scope to determine if there are any changes and how they will impact the project. Recognizing and implementing adjustments in a timely manner will help reduce delays and risks.

This means start planning long before the actual construction begins, and continue revising until the end of the project. The design, pre-construction, and procurement stages of a construction project all require meticulous planning — and may need to be revised as the project progresses.

A properly planned out and scheduled project is a well-managed and successful bridge project.

Ensure Quality Construction

The quality of the construction is a big part of its success and reflects your skills in bridge management. Thus, in your planning process, you want to consider options that will create lasting effects. Consider utilizing durability solutions such as special enhancement and treatments. Galvanized or weathered steel is a popular option to slow the process of deterioration.

Not only should you be deciding what materials and methods to use, but who the manufacturer should be. Supply chain management helps you stay organized and save money. This means careful management of suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and designers.

Pay attention to the order and delivery of materials on-site, the selection of contractors, their involvement in design and planning, and methods used to reduce invoice and transaction costs. In addition, reinforce collaborative methods with those involved in the project to keep the system flowing. This will encourage proper accountability, support, and incentives from supply chain partners.

Starting a project with these practices in mind minimizes disputes and delays. Not to mention, it improves safety and business practices and develops better project relationships.

Trust us to Build your Bridge

Our 80+ years working with various companies all across the world has provided us with the skills and experience needed for even the most challenging projects. We are confident that our engineering and manufacturing expertise will fit the needs of your project. Contact us on our website to learn more about how you can collaborate with us or fill out our exclusive BridgeScope tool for a quick quote.