The Central Bridge No. 182 in Barrington, Rhode Island, is the first project in the state to use Northeast Extreme Tee (NEXT) beams in the superstructure. The beams were selected primarily because of their ease and speed of erection, and more such projects are planned, according to the engineering firm on the project.
“We evaluated several options for the bridge-replacement project before deciding to recommend the use of the NEXT beams,” explains Kevin Viveiros, vice president of Pare Corp. The project began before NEXT beams were being promoted as an alternative solution, he notes. He and David Elwell, the senior project engineer, attended a presentation on the beams and saw the versatility. “We realized it offered a good alternative for us. It didn’t take a lot of convincing to show Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) the benefits once we looked at it closely.”
The project consists of demolishing the existing two-lane bridge and building a wider version adjacent, leaving two lanes and a sidewalk open at all times during construction to allow traffic to continue to flow. When completed, the new structure will have five continuous spans totaling 330 feet, with six lines of NEXT 36F prestressed concrete beams per span. Each span also features an arched fascia beam on its exterior sides to provide an aesthetic touch.
“The biggest factor that convinced us and RIDOT to go with NEXT beams was how quickly and easily the beams could be erected,” he says. “There is no deck formwork needed and fewer pieces to erect than with other options.” The beams also allow utilities to be incorporated into their runs, which box-beam designs would not have allowed so readily. This beam type also allowed for a slight increase in the clearance under the bridge, an important criterion to town officials, as it is a navigable water way patrolled by the town.
The project is being completed in two main phases to allow traffic to continue using the bridge. In the first phase, two lanes and a sidewalk are being constructed north of the existing two-lane bridge. When that work is done, a transition stage will connect the road to those lanes to shift traffic. Then the existing bridge will be demolished and a third lane and sidewalk will be built in that location and connected to the adjacent new structure.
“Town officials very much wanted to ensure that two lanes remained open during construction, and this schedule and plan will ensure that will happen while also building the bridge quickly,” says Viveiros. The 20 beams in the first phase of construction were erected in less than one week with no problems, he notes. The bridge is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017.
“This was the first bridge to use NEXT beams in Rhode Island, but we’re seeing it used more and more in other states, and it’s apparent it’s becoming a popular option pretty quickly,” he says. More projects using them in Rhode Island are on the table now, with some beginning construction in the near future, he notes.