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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.

With the sudden outburst of COVID-19 last year, many individuals were concerned about how it would affect the economy. Despite the negative effects of the pandemic, studies indicate a steady rise in the global bridge construction market.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the bridge construction market and what factors affect its growth.

The Construction Market

The construction market consists of sales made in the construction industry such as construction services and goods by organizations, sole traders, and partnerships that construct buildings or engineering projects (e.g., highways and utility systems). While the market primarily consists of the construction of buildings or other projects, it also includes the process and materials necessary for preparing new construction sites.

These materials are obtained from both domestic and international suppliers such as manufacturers and wholesale trade operators. The service and goods provided by this market include construction, civil engineering, specialty trade contracting, and other residential, non-residential, and engineering modes.

What Affects the Market?

A large market such as the construction market has several variables that come together to influence the industry. However, there are always key factors that contribute more than others.

The availability of raw materials, the technology for extracting and processing raw materials, government policies, and increased sustainability focus all greatly affect the construction market. A great example of this is demonstrated through the pandemic as many companies struggled to procure their materials from their usual international suppliers. COVID-19 created a significant impact on the industry that will greatly affect but not hamper the market moving forward.

Technology is an important factor that is pushing change in nearly every industry. Its influence over the construction industry is illustrated with more drone usage and 3D printing than ever before. Not to mention, new innovative methods of bridge construction such as modular and prefabricated designs.

The Projected Global Boom of the Bridge Construction Market

In 2019, the global bridge construction market was valued at $908.0 billion and projected to reach $1,212.6 billion by 2027. Thus registering a CAGR of 4.6% from 2020 to 2027.  The strong growth of this market is attributed to an increase in investments, government initiatives, and global economic growth.

The global urban population is expected to rise by 2050. Thus, fueling the demand for bridge construction and other transport infrastructure. Furthermore, the surge in the standard of living, particularly in developing countries is anticipated to drive market growth.

In addition, technological advancements are expected to encourage the growth of the market. These improvements in equipment and systems are intended to reduce the time and cost involved in bridge construction. This economic and urbanization boom is expected to fuel the expansion of the railway networks throughout the globe. Thus boosting the growth of the bridge construction market.

U.S. Bridge

Here at U.S. Bridge, we pride ourselves as leaders in the bridge construction industry. We’ve been engineering and manufacturing bridges for decades with services worldwide.

We understand that a bridge project is a major investment. That’s why we designed an effortless process for you to build a bridge that will last generations. Please contact us for a free quote or use our exclusive bridge design tool Bridge Scope for a quick five-minute scope. Together, we’ll build a better future for America’s infrastructure.

Bridges play a key role in our lives by connecting our communities, promoting commerce travels, and contributing to our country’s economic development. But who designs these bridges and what does a bridge engineer do?

Bridge Engineers

Bridge Engineers are civil engineers responsible for designing and building bridges and other highway-related structures. Typical tasks for bridge engineers include designing and maintaining bridge structures, minimizing environmental impact, and supervising the fabrication process. As well as completing site investigations, data collection, identifying environmental risks, analyzing manufacturing processes, supervising construction, and more.

Although the exact duties of a bridge engineer may differ, it’s safe to say they’ll always play a critical role in any bridge construction project.

Designing and maintaining a bridge is no easy task. That’s why bridge engineers are required to have skills such as analytical thinking, leadership, supervisory skills, organization, and creativity. Not to mention, time management and budgeting skills which are essential for projects with restricted time or resources.

Bridge Engineering: It’s All About The Details

Meetings & Details

Naturally, the first part of any construction project is understanding the full scope. This meeting typically covers topics and details such as bridge series and styles, special enhancements or treatments, railing criteria, etc. This will help the bridge engineer to draw up some preliminary sketches of the bridge’s general framing plan, bridge geometry, and basic construction.

These designs help illustrate the bridge and prepare the project for its next step.

Digital Renderings

One of the most powerful tools for bridge engineers to utilize is technology. Bridge engineers will often use computers to create virtual models to assist in visualizing a project. This helps the team picture the visual impacts of the bridge to any given site as well as the aesthetic qualities. Our bridge engineers are able to model your proposed bridge over a digital terrain model or incorporate it into photos of your existing site.

This aspect is extremely useful, especially if a construction project requires models to help stakeholders buy-in or make a sale.

Final Process

Once a commitment has been made, the design process officially begins and a team is assigned. The project engineer analyzes the proposed bridge including the specified design loads and appropriate load factors, along with applying numerous code checks. Eventually, the bridge engineer begins to sketch the design details and information for the designer. These sketches convey all the information previously discussed and finalized.

The engineer will also markup the general notes and list the design assumptions and pertinent bridge data onto the title sheet.

Part of this process involves reviewing the design calculations and construction plans to verify the scope and specifications. Also checked is the plan content to ensure it reflects the engineer’s design intent and that no conflicts exist and that no omissions have occurred. The final step before submittal is usually the application of the Professional Engineer’s seal and signature.

Designed for Success at U.S. Bridge

At U.S. Bridge, we’ve been engineering and building bridges for over 80 years. Our engineers have the skills and experience to build bridges in many different styles and sizes to fit the needs of your project. Find out more about how U.S. Bridge has everything you need to make your project a success.

Contact us for a free quote or check our exclusive Bridge Scope tool to start building your project today.

Ohio's Construction Boom

Economic forecasters predict a slowdown in the construction industry. However, this does not seem to apply to Ohio’s metropolitan area. Our buckeye state is experiencing a construction boom with more than $4 billion in new starts (this year) including nonresidential, residential, and public works projects. According to the president of the Central Ohio chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Columbus area has become the place to do business. So, in order to accommodate the influx of residents, construction companies are hard at work. U.S. Bridge is an Ohio native bridge company. Our mission is to serve communities by engineering and manufacturing steel bridges.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Throughout 2019, Ohio saw an increase in starts. Between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2018, the population of Columbus grew by 13.1%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

  • In 2019, nonresidential starts were at $2.6 billion – an increase of 38% from the same period in 2018
  • During 2019, residential starts were valued at $1.4 billion – an increase of 6% from 2018
  • Combined, these numbers amount to a 25% surge in new starts

The numbers are a telling indicator of the need for construction. In fact, at least 300 new projects are in the works for this busy metropolitan area. The modern job market is attracting more and more people, which demands ongoing construction. This includes the healthcare projects and further construction labor taking place at Ohio State University. Additionally, the dollar value of new starts has circled the total for the years of 2008 through 2014! Columbus is experiencing both a population and construction boom that is expected to continue at a quick rate.

Skilled Laborer Shortage

The continuous increase in the city’s population has brought upon a serious issue. There aren’t enough skilled trade laborers to take on the challenge. This inadequacy is driving an increase in project costs and completion times. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, the data released from their new survey claims that Ohio construction firms are expecting the construction boom to continue; 90% of companies report that they plan to hire additional workers throughout 2019. However, 88% of that population expect the hiring process to be a challenge. Unfortunately, this has become an issue of qualified workers on top of the existing shortage. Studies show that over one-third of firms agree that a lack of qualified talent is hindering the successful and timely completion of construction projects.

Solutions to Combat this Issue

33% of Ohio state respondents say they are using methods to reduce on-site work time. This includes:

Columbus Construction Boom

While the issue of worker shortage remains, construction in Columbus continues to attract new and existing citizens. So much so, companies such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook are also participating in the construction boom by extending their headquarters to the Ohio metropolitan area. The city has become known as a modern technology hub, attracting wide groups, especially millennials.

U.S. Bridge Can Assist

U.S. Bridge believes in thoroughly investing in America’s infrastructure. We help to make transportation possible with our durable quality bridges. With 10,000+ completed projects and 80 years of combined construction experience, U.S. Bridge will help make your project a success. In busy cities, like Columbus, that demand the possibility for easy transportation, our bridges serve communities both local and global. Get a quote today to start your next project today.

Hot Dip Galvanized Steel Vs. Weathering Steel What's The Right Choice

Steel has long played a key role in American construction efforts. Not only is steel lighter in weight than many other building materials on the market, but it also earns points for durability, affordability, and environmental friendliness. Still, bridge builders may struggle with whether to use more traditional weathering steel or increasingly popular hot-dip galvanized steel. Read on to discover how these options stack up.Hot Dip Galvanized Steel Vs. Weathering Steel What's The Right Choice

Benefits and Drawbacks of Weathering Steel

Long a favorite among bridge builders, weathering steel offers numerous advantages over other building types. Strong and attractive, this material rusts in a way that provides protection against the elements. Builders refer to this as “useful corrosion.”

Still, the news about weathering steel isn’t all positive. Progressively corroding, weathering steel can deteriorate faster if moisture is present. To compensate for this loss of mass and strength, builders may need to use thicker sections of steel from the start. Additionally, salt air and humidity can damage weathering steel, resulting in accelerated corrosion.

Benefits of Hot-Dipped Galvanized Steel

Formed by dipping bare steel in molten zinc, hot-dip galvanized steel is a popular choice in bridge construction. Featuring the strength of weathering steel, hot-dip galvanized steel offers additional benefits, too. Barrier and cathodic protection mean that this material resists corrosion. As a result, this option requires less long-term maintenance than weathering steel. Additionally, hot-dip galvanized steel maintains its structure despite exposure to UV rays, snow, water, and soil and is 100 percent recyclable.

Trust U.S. Bridge With All Your Building Needs

As a bridge building leader, U.S. Bridge brings more than 80 years of engineering and manufacturing expertise to the table. We’re passionate about constructing bridges that withstand time and the elements while making use of materials that are safe for the environment. Ready to learn more about our products and services? Call our steel bridge experts today or contact us online for info.

 

The Economic Benefits Of Bridge Building

Most of us don’t notice much about the bridges and roads that connect our cities and states. However, we would certainly notice if we woke up one day and they weren’t there. Bridges play a crucial role in various aspects of modern life, enabling us to get to work or school and contributing to the country’s economic development. This, of course, is something the American Society of Civil Engineers knows well. Every four years, this all-important group releases a bridge report card, assessing how these structures are holding up. Read on to learn more about bridge economic impact and what we can do to protect these structures moving forward.

Aiding in Infrastructure

Bridge economic impact starts with the way they support the transport of people and goods. Along with allowing companies to ship materials, bridges enable consumers to travel to shops and malls and visit new cities as tourists. When a bridge goes down, the surrounding area experiences a halt in economic activity, as people can no longer purchase goods and services with the same ease.

Supporting the Local Economy

Bridges also support the local economy, thanks to wages paid to construction workers and repair crews. Even the most well-designed bridges require regular cleaning and maintenance. Bridge workers then give this money back to the local community by paying taxes and purchasing local goods and services.

Connecting Communities

Bridge economic impact issues go beyond simple cash flow. Bridges connect people in different communities, allowing them to interact for work or play. This capacity is especially essential for areas where one town has an abundance of raw materials and another has a labor force in need of work. In this way, both people and communities can support one another.

What’s to Come for Our Nation’s Bridges

In assessing the country’s bridges, the American Society of Civil Engineers determined that the average bridge age is rising. As result, the United States will need to spend $120 billion or more to complete the necessary repairs and get all the bridges up to code. That’s where companies like U.S. Bridge can help.

Contact Us for a Consultation

As a leader in bridge design and manufacture, U.S. Bridge helps communities create safe, longer-lasting bridges. Plus, we build many of our bridges using prefabricated panels and assemble them in modules to expedite construction. For more about our services, call today or contact us online.

Those who aren’t familiar with bridge building might think of decks as parts of a ship or the area in the backyard where grills are kept. However, in the industry, we know “deck” is a term for the driving surface of a bridge. Whether constructed from concrete, wood, steel, or open grating, decks that form the driving surface of a bridge need to be strong enough for traffic to cross safely. At U.S. Bridge, we provide a full range of sustainable bridge floor and deck solutions to clients throughout the world. Read on to learn more about the types of decks we offer:

Concrete Deck Slab

When it comes to bridge floor and deck products, the concrete deck slab is one of the most popular. Typically between 7 and 9 inches thick, this deck has two layers of steel reinforcing bars to provide strength and durability.

Asphalt

For this deck type, corrugated steel planks, 3, 5 or 7 gauge, are attached to the stringers of the bridge and become a structural component of the structure.. By galvanizing these planks, the flooring is protected against corrosion. With an asphalt overlay, these types of decks provide a long-lasting, economical, driving surface.

Open Grid Steel Deck

If weight constraints are an issue, open grid steel decking is a wonderful option for a bridge floor. It is characterized by whether the grid is filled, or partially-filled with concrete. If concrete is included, a metal pan or form is included near the base or at mid-height of the grid to support the concrete while it cures.

Precast Concrete Panels

One of the most efficient deck types, precast concrete panels can be constructed quickly and easily. Designed and manufactured off site, these panels can be installed one day and driven over the next. Non-shrink grout is mixed and poured in batches on site.

Nail-Laminated Timber Bridge Floor

Ideal for more rustic locations around the country, these timber decks utilize pressure treated lumber to protect against the elements. Additionally, buyers can opt to cover the deck with asphalt if they choose.

Start Building Your Bridge Today

As a leader in bridge floor and bridge flooring solutions, U.S. Bridge engineers and manufactures steel bridges for a wide range of private and public organizations. You can trust us to create a safe, durable bridge that will stand the test of time. To learn more about what we do, call today or contact us for an online bridge consultation.

2018 Bridge Industry Economic Projections

Rumors have been circulating that the federal government is ready to pour a lot of funds into U.S. infrastructure. Beyond rumors, though, what is the real economic outlook for our industry? Below are some key Bridge Industry Economic Predictions and what we can expect throughout 2018.

Strong Overall Outlook

With a dropping unemployment rate and low inflation, the overall outlook for construction growth in 2018 is very positive.  General construction work is estimated to grow by five percent. More specifically, signs indicate that the Southern and Western United States will see the biggest impact on growth. While the cost of building materials is likely to rise by a little over two percent, overall industry growth is still expected.

Bridges and Roads

Bridge Industry Economic Projections estimate that bridges and roads will be the biggest growth segment in the nonbuilding sector. This is in part due to the government’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program. This program will fund up to 10 highway and bridge projects. However, it has not yet been voted on.

State by State

The overall growth of road and bridge construction may seem minimal when applied to the entire U.S. as a whole. However, some states will see more growth than others. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), California, Florida, New York, Hawaii, Virginia, and Washington are poised to see the most local growth in the construction industry. Additionally, total spending on public bridge and tunnel construction is expected to top out around $31.3 billion, a slight increase over 2017.

Signs for a Strong Future

Most assume that the federal government will pass INFRA, adding funds to the construction industry in 2018 and early 2019. These projects would undoubtedly bring long-term growth for years to come. Further, with nine percent of the U.S.’s bridges and roads deemed structurally deficient and in need of repair, the need for bridge and roadway construction will likely continue for decades.

To find out more about Bridge Industry Economic Projections and what U.S. Bridge is doing to help, please contact us today. At U.S. Bridge, we have designed and manufactured bridges for over 80 years, providing the pathways that keep America moving.

References

Hurricane Maria Statistics In Puerto Rico

Immediately following the Puerto Rico hurricane, 100 percent of the island was without power. Additionally, parts of the island had become completely isolated due to the loss of bridges and roadways. Many of these structures were either swept away by the storm or deemed unsafe to travel in its aftermath. U.S. Bridge is proud to be part of the rebuilding effort in Puerto Rico. Take a look below to understand the full scope of the damage to Puerto Rico.

 

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Storm

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico for almost three weeks. The Category 5 hurricane had wind gusts of up to 175 MPH and is responsible for more than 1,000 deaths. With such an intense storm assaulting the island, its infrastructure was ill-prepared to handle the amount of flooding; as a result, downed trees and power lines made many roadways impassable. Plus, the lack of power leftmost Island residents without access to refrigerated food and medicine, and with only limited access to news and information regarding the storm.

Rebuilding Roadways

U.S. Bridge built five Liberty bridges in Puerto Rico. The effort required 800 metric tons of steel, all made in the USA, as well as three contractors. Altogether, these bridges accounted for 950 feet of roadway with a design life of 75 years.

USB PR Stats Update May20 2018

Reconnecting Communities

The five bridges are in areas hardest hit by the Puerto Rico hurricane. These areas are:

Each of these bridges passed rigorous requirements as set forth by FEMA, AASHTO and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). The work in Puerto Rico required the use of three freight companies, two galvanizing companies, and two ship lines.

USB-PR-stats-communities-update-May20-2018

Delivering Relief

U.S. Bridge estimated that the building of the bridges took six weeks. In under two months, U.S. Bridge provided Puerto Ricans with just some of the relief needed to rebuild their lives.

As a leader in bridge design and manufacturing, U.S. Bridge is proud to serve as part of the rebuilding effort. The Puerto Rico hurricane was an unprecedented weather event, and our team of engineers is eager to bring their knowledge and expertise to the task at hand. For more information about U.S. Bridge, please contact us today. For more details regarding U.S. Bridge’s work in Puerto Rico, please see our infographic below. Also, download the high resolution version for printing here.

USB PR Stats Update May20 2018 01

 

Puerto Rico Hurricane Damage Coverage - U.S. Bridge To Build 4 Bridges

Since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, its residents have been waiting for life to return to normal. However, with its infrastructure severely damaged by the storm, a normal way of life is all but impossible. That’s where U.S. Bridge comes in. They are working on the ground to combat Puerto Rico hurricane damage by rebuilding bridges in four affected areas.

Reestablishing Connection

Hurricane Maria caused massive mudslides, trapping some people in their homes for days and weeks following the storm. These mudslides also led to bridges collapsing. This made it impossible for people to access basic necessities like food and water. Roadways that were once traversed daily were now impassable. U.S. Bridge, started at the end of 2017, and is in the process of finishing in March of 2018. Some of the first rebuilding efforts are focused on affected areas like Utuado.

Reconnecting Remote Areas

Puerto Rico hurricane damage greatly impacted remote areas of the island in these regions, such as Juana Diaz, Utuado, Moca, and San Lorenzo, Morovis. In total, more than 100 of the bridges in Puerto Rico were damaged, and 18 have closed. Without these bridges, residents in remote areas are stranded. Residents are only able to get food and water through pure ingenuity. For example, residents in Rio Abajo, who are now completely cut off from supplies, have rigged a pulley system to get supplies across the river. Due to U.S. Bridge’s quick turn around time, they immediately engineered, manufactured and shipped their Liberty Series bridges to these communities. They are being built as this article is being written! Tactically, U.S. Bridge is connecting one part of the island to another.This will bring hope back to  the area and hasten the flow of supplies that residents so desperately need.

Working Together for Everyone

U.S. Bridge is proud to be one of the many companies working diligently to combat Puerto Rico hurricane damage. Crowley is another great company that is helping transport major components of the Liberty Series bridges across the region. Federal organizations like FEMA and FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) have also backed and supported the recovery effort in Puerto Rico. 47 containers are being transported. These containers weigh in at around 800 metric tons of steel. In total, more than 880 feet of bridge will be built. U.S. Bridge is confident that citizens will regain a semblance of normalcy. These four bridges are being constructed in some of the hardest hit areas of this beautiful island. The work in Puerto Rico has just begun. Collaborative efforts like this are a perfect way to push the rebuilding movement forward.

These amazing contractors should be applauded for their work on these projects:

Liberty for Puerto Ricans

Local news in Puerto Rico is starting to see the benefit of what U.S. Bridge and their partners are doing. Below is a story from Wapa.tv on the Utuado bridge and local residents’ reaction.

 

An Engineering Leader Helping Puerto Rico Hurricane Damage

For over 80 years, U.S. Bridge has been a leader in bridge design and manufacturing throughout the world. Our team of engineers works with local and state governments, businesses, and other organizations to reinforce and stabilize bridges across the country. The CEO of U.S. Bridge, Dan Rogovin and COO, Rajat Shah, have been in Puerto Rico, assessing progress and lending their support.

Todd Carpenter, Bridge Superintendent at U.S. Bridge, has been in the country overseeing the work, and said, “the collaborative effort from, the contractors, the U.S. Government, and the people of Puerto Rico, has made this an extremely fulfilling project. Knowing that our bridges are being used for connecting communities that were shattered, is something I’ll never forget. And these communities will use these bridges for generations to come.”

For more details regarding the work U.S. Bridge is doing in Puerto Rico, please click here. Also, make sure to follow U.S. Bridge’s social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Linkedin) for the ongoing work in Puerto Rico. For more information about U.S. Bridge, we encourage you to contact us today.

Hurricane News: Damage Coverage For Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in mid-September 2017. The island’s infrastructure relied on bridges, roads and waterways to maintain trade. Unfortunately, most of these bridges and roads have been destroyed and are no longer passable, according to hurricane news reports. These modes of transportation also provided Puerto Ricans with access to food, water, gasoline, and cities. Hence, rebuilding efforts are the key to getting the island back on its feet.

U.S. Bridge has followed the hurricane news very closely and is eager to help the people of Puerto Rico. Lacking resources and any way to transport them to people who need them most, U.S. Bridge is determined to help Puerto Rico by rebuilding bridges to facilitate free movement of food, water, and gasoline. Parts of Puerto Rico won’t have power before late May, 8 months after hurricane Maria. About 95 percent of the island will see energy restoration by the end of March. Things are slowly getting better, however, there is still much to be done.

Unable to Navigate the Mountains

The mountains near San Juan were particularly hit hard. For example, the neighborhood of San Lorenzo has been cut off from the city due to the destruction of a bridge that allowed free passage for its residents. Residents in the area have stressed how important it is for them to be able to move freely between their homes and the city. Elderly people and the sick, for instance, no longer have access to the care they need. The only option is to ford the river in what is often waist-deep, murky water. On the other hand, they may take a path around the mountain that can add three hours to their trip; but with limited access to gasoline, this is not a viable option. Some residents have actually rigged a cable above the water to get supplies across.

Built to Last

U.S. Bridge is eager to provide relief to the people of Puerto Rico. U.S. Bridge will be using the Liberty Bridge design for four bridge projects that are contracted to construct in Puerto Rico. This bridge type is made up of prefabricated modules that are easy to transport and assemble.  Based on the hurricane news, the Liberty Bridge will offer the type of permanent and quick relief that the people of Puerto Rico need.

U.S. Bridge is providing bridge-building expertise to the people of Puerto Rico who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Maria more than four months after it made landfall. For more information about U.S. Bridge and our team of dedicated engineers, please feel free to contact us for more information.

Analyzing the life cycle costs of steel vs. concrete bridges is of utmost importance to U.S. Bridge and the infrastructure industry in general. Aside from sustainability and social responsibility, U.S. Bridge is dedicated to using the best materials for the job. Depending on the scope of work and bridge design, the choice between steel or concrete could have a long-lasting impact on the sustainability of the structure.

U.S. Bridge asked Michael G. Barker Ph.D., a professor at the University of Wyoming, to draft a white paper regarding the Life Cycle Costs Analysis (LCCA) of bridges. Of particular interest was the use of hot-dip galvanized steel vs. concrete. The study determined that using HDG steel reduces capital costs by 8.5 percent. Below is the executive summary of the report that provides a good snapshot of the report and its findings. You can download the entire white paper here.

Executive Summary

Since the early 1990s, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has promoted the consideration of Life Cycle Costs Analysis (LCCA) in the design and engineering of bridges. LCCA determines the “true cost” of bridge alternatives considering the time-value of money. The Life Cycle Cost analyses employed in this study uses the Perpetual Present Value Cost (PPVC) of bridge alternatives for an equivalent comparison between the alternatives.

Over the years, the author has worked with state departments of transportation and local county engineers on effective and economical bridge construction. A frequent question that arises during meetings is the difference in Life Cycle Costs between steel and concrete girder bridges. Both the concrete industry and the steel industry cite various anecdotal advantages above the other for the Life Cycle Costs over the life of the bridge. There has historically been a healthy competition between material types for new bridge construction. However, there is industry and owner confusion on how the different types of bridges compare on a Life Cycle Cost basis.

Steel vs. Concrete Bridge Analysis

This study developed useful owner information on historical Life Cycle Costs for typical steel and concrete state bridges in Pennsylvania. Typical bridges defined in the study are:

  • Concrete decks supported by steel rolled beams
  • Steel plate girders
  • Precast concrete boxes
  • Precast concrete beams

PennDOT historical records for bridges built between 1960 and 2010 were used to develop the Life Cycle Cost study database. Initial and maintenance costs considered include total project costs (more than just superstructure) as recorded in the PennDOT records. The PennDOT database used for the Life Cycle Cost analyses only includes a subset of the total bridge inventory. Missing cost and date data for a majority of the individual bridges made total inventory impossible. The database consists of 1,186 state bridges out of 6,587 (18 percent of the eligible inventory) built between 1960 and 2010.

The initial costs, Life Cycle Costs, and future costs of the 1,186 bridges in the database are examined with respect to:

  • Variability in bridge type
  • Bridge length
  • Number of spans
  • Bridge life

Protective coating systems were also used to examine steel bridges. The results must be taken into context since the results only represent the bridges that made it into the database. The database is not as comprehensive or desirable for drawing conclusions. The reader must decide how to interpret the tables and figures showing comparisons of initial costs, Perpetual Present Value Costs, maintenance and future costs, and bridge life.  

Report Conclusion Summary

A conclusion that can be drawn is that all the types of bridges are fairly competitive in both Initial Costs and Perpetual Present Value Costs. The average initial costs vary from $174 per square feet to $226 square feet. The average Perpetual Present Value Costs vary between $218 per square feet (Prestressed I Beam) and $278 per square feet (Prestressed Adjacent Box). The lowest average bridge life was 73 years (Prestressed I Beam) and the longest was 82 years (Steel I Beam). The coefficient of variation (standard deviation/mean) of the PPVC was approximately 20 percent, which is considerably high. With the relatively small differences in the PPVC averages, given the dispersion of the PPVC costs (standard deviation), any of the bridge types may have the least Perpetual Present Value Cost for a given project.

Chance for Further Study

This research was limited to a subset of PennDOT bridges. However, the analyses demonstrate the potential benefits of LCC analysis for bridge construction and management. A study of a more comprehensive database of bridges on the initial costs, Life Cycle Costs and future costs of different types of bridges over a diverse set of circumstances would be very useful for bridge owners and managers. A more comprehensive database would allow for a more accurate comparison of bridge types, design details, such as jointless decks, rebar coatings, steel protection systems, and other construction details.

For more information about this study, as well as the benefits of steel vs. concrete bridges, please contact U.S. Bridge today. You can also download the complete white paper here.