It didn’t take long for new area manager Dana Meier to witness WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff innovation in action.
Meier, who is based in the Murray, Utah office and manages transportation infrastructure in Utah, Idaho and Montana, had a front-row view of a special moment for the Hill Field Road Bridge project along Interstate 15 – a project that attracted widespread attention for its unconventional method of sliding completed bridge spans into permanent position.
As the designer of the project on behalf of the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), WSP USA worked with the contractor, Ames Construction, to develop the construction plan that allowed the project team to build two 180-foot-long bridge spans in temporary locations adjacent to the existing road, then slide them into place when ready.
“The biggest benefit to sliding a bridge is that you move the construction away from the travel lanes,” Meier said. “This allows the public to freely move on the interstate and the construction workers have a safer environment to work. It also eliminates phased construction of the new bridge, which improves the quality of the final product.”
The first slide of the northbound span was completed on March 9-10. In less than eight hours, the bridge was pulled into its permanent position using large steel cables on both sides of the bridge, and slide pads on stacks of plywood placed between the bridge and the concrete abutment pile caps. It also gained notice for using copious amounts of household dishwashing liquid to reduce friction.
“Although the maneuver was a success, because of the some of the challenges the contractor faced in the first bridge slide, adjustments were made to their equipment and materials to facilitate an even easier second slide,” Meier said.
One change was the replacement of the plywood support stacks with solid lumber. “The plywood stacks on the first bridge slide were crushed and didn’t support the load as well as the solid lumber,” he said.
As a result of the modification, the May 1-2 southbound bridge slide was completed in less than half the time.
“The second bridge slide was very successful,” Meier reported. “Using lessons learned from the first bridge slide, the contractor was able to slide the southbound bridge into permanent position in about three hours.”
Meier joined WSP earlier this year. He brings more than 32 years of transportation industry experience to the firm, most recently working for the past seven years as a program engineer for UDOT, where he held several senior technical positions, including district engineer and maintenance engineer. He was also responsible for leading multidisciplinary teams on a variety of transportation projects in Southern Utah.
Originally from Murry, Utah, he has spent the past 22 years living in Southern Utah, and from 1998 to 2011 he was president of DM Associates, a Cedar City, Utah structural/civil engineering firm that he founded.
“I grew up literally blocks away from the current location of the Murray office,” he said. “This really is a homecoming for me.”
Meier said he was impressed with the “depth and breadth” of resources WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff offers to its clients. “If there is anything engineering-related that is new and innovative, WSP has likely been involved,” he said.
He believes that transportation engineering requires technology and innovation to preserve the mobility that motorists enjoy today.
“It has been known in the industry for some time that you cannot build your way out of congestion,” Meier said. “I think there are some great innovations on the horizon that will help us meet the challenges of providing an efficient transportation system, including managed motorways and autonomous and connected vehicles. WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff is at the forefront of these innovations.”
But he also likes the fact that “WSP | Parsons Brinkerhoff is an international firm, yet still operates and is perceived as a local firm.” Some of those local projects include work on the Mountain View Corridor and program management for the Utah Transit Authority.
While dealing with the day-to-day challenges of working with steel, concrete and asphalt, Meier said he never loses sight of the reasons why these transportation projects are important.
“These roads are being used to visit loved ones, to shop, to take the kids to school, to go to work, or for recreation,” Meier said. “We are engineering these projects to connect people with those experiences.”