The first design-build project for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) is now the winner of a National Recognition Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).
The $35 million Route 8 bridge and road rehabilitation project in Bridgeport, Connecticut involved the replacement of four bridge superstructures, infilling of 10 bridge spans, construction of retaining walls, rehabilitation of a 570-foot long bin wall, and various intersection improvements. The Lindley Street northbound exit off ramp was widened to add a right turn lane, and a right turn lane was added to Lindley Street at the North Avenue intersection.
WSP USA served as lead designer, teaming with Manafort Brothers, Inc., with ConnDOT as the owner. The firm’s services included highway and bridge design, traffic and geotechnical engineering, public outreach, scheduling and document control, scheduling and construction phase services including 24-hour on-site presence during the critical work phases.
Mike Abrahams was the project manager and Sandra Stavola served as deputy project manager. The structures team was led by Tom Laliberte with support from Ben Szymanski and Jodi Greene. Civil engineering was led by Ryan Binder and supported by Jodi Greene, with Mateo Montesi serving as the geotechnical lead.
“Multiple design features, including semi-integral abutments, link slab and weathering steel were used in order to maximize the structure’s lifespan,” Szymanski said. “By using accelerated bridge construction techniques, the project was completed ahead of schedule and minimized impact to the traveling public.”
Construction took place about two miles north of the Interstate 95 intersection, along a section of Route 8 that handles an estimated 104,000 vehicles every day. The existing bridges targeted in the project included precast bulb-tee girders, which were deteriorating due to what appeared to be adverse alkali/silica reactions.
The National Recognition Award was presented at the ACEC’s gala dinner and awards program on April 25 in Washington, D.C.
“The success of the project in satisfying our client, Manafort Brothers; the owner, ConnDOT; and the traveling public played the biggest role in being recognized nationally,” Szymanski said.
The project, which typically would have taken several years to complete, was completed in less than 18 months, including final design. Construction started in April 2015 and was completed in September 2016. A large portion of the demolition and construction took place during two 14-day crossover periods in which the northbound and southbound lanes were shifted into a single roadway.
In order to achieve this goal, WSP assisted in ensuring proper fit-up of the prefabricated new bridge elements through extensive planning and helped to resolve issues encountered during the shutdowns.
One of the client’s top priorities was to complete the required work during the shutdown/crossover periods as quickly as possible.
“The firm addressed this priority by identifying areas that posed a risk to the schedule and determined strategies to minimize the impact,” Szymanski said. “Temporary laydown areas were used to prefabricate the new bridge superstructures. The design of these areas was heavily coordinated with the WSP team to ensure proper fit up.”
WSP construction schedulers, who worked directly with the contractor, were used prior to and during the shutdown periods to ensure the required work was completed ahead of schedule and minimized the impact to the traveling public. During the two-week shutdown the schedules were broken into one-hour intervals with daily updates.
“Weekly meetings with the contractor to coordinate design aspects and construction activities ensured that the project went smoothly and that the two entities acted as one team,” Szymanski said. “Over-the-shoulder meetings during the design phase with the owner and owner’s representative helped to iron out the key design aspects as quickly as possible.”
WSP staff were on site during the construction shutdowns and provided assistance in resolving construction issues.
“WSP used its technical resources to provide the best product possible as part of the design-build team,” Szymanski said. “We were in constant communication with the contractor in order to plan for the shutdown periods and minimize tasks that would impact the schedule.”
To reduce future maintenance, bridge joints were eliminated by using link slabs and semi-integral back walls. Use of modern weathering steel beams ensured that the bridges would not require paint or other surface maintenance over its lifespan.
Accelerated bridge construction techniques, including the use of prefabricated bridge units and high-early strength concrete – combined with the coordination of maintenance and protection of traffic measures – reduced the construction time during the two 14-day crossover stages.
The success of these efforts on the Route 8 project led to the ACEC National Recognition Award, as well as several other honors, including:
“I am personally very proud to have been a part of this project,” Szymanski said. “I believe a true measure of success for any design project is how seamlessly it is incorporated into society. The firm provided a sustainable product that will serve the traveling public for the next 75 years.”
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