In the United States, one in four of the country’s 600,000 bridges require rehabilitation, repair, or replacement. As a result, faster, safer, and more economic bridge construction is a frequent topic of discussion. Technological developments, such as the use of wireless temperature and strength sensors and the practice of Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC), have been growing in popularity as a means in which to save time on site and shorten project schedules.
When it comes to testing the compressive strength of concrete, break tests are the most popular method. However, this practice is also very time-consuming. That is why more and more contractors have been turning to smart technology, like wireless concrete maturity sensors, to shorten project timelines. These sensors monitor the strength of in-situ concrete in real time, reducing the number of break tests needed and effectively saving time during construction. Using wireless maturity sensors, Project Manager Frank Maury of Gilchrist Construction in Alexandria, LA estimated that his team saved 3 to 4 months while working on the construction of a major bridge project.
Another method frequently used to save time during the construction of bridges is the practice of ABC. ABC is a system of plans, designs, materials, and construction methods with the main purpose to reduce the construction and reconstruction of bridges. This includes the use of prefabricated elements. Components of ABC bridges are made in controlled environments that lead to improved material quality and workmanship relative to field-constructed bridges.
DOTs around the United States are starting to rely more and more on ABC methods to cut down on long production times of bridge construction. With ABC, contractors are slashing construction time from weeks to days, and in some cases, from days to just hours. This is important to highway contractors who face intense pressure to avoid prolonged closures. ABC methods can also help transportation departments save money in an era of tight funding – and when so many bridges are deficient. In many projects, the direct and indirect costs of traffic detours from the loss of a bridge during construction can exceed the actual cost of the structure itself. However, in using ABC methods, DOTs can open roads to traffic must faster, avoiding these unnecessary costs.