As the nation's infrastructure continues to age, the number of bridges requiring rehabilitation, repair, or total replacement continues to increase. One of the greatest concerns with bridge construction and repair, along with varying types of new construction, is how the project will affect the surrounding community, with safety, quality of life, and economical impacts being major considerations. In densely populated areas, the effects of lane closures or complete shutdown of a bridge can result in a larger economic cost to the area than the project cost itself. This makes way for the increasingly adopted practice of Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC). ABC is a method of bridge construction that uses innovative planning, design, materials, and construction methods in both a safe and cost-effective way to reduce onsite time that occurs during new builds, bridge replacement, and/or rehabilitation. The use of precast concrete is an integral part of the ABC process, as it allows for the infrastructure components to be cast off-site reducing congestion, impact on motorists, total project delivery time, and improves safety on site.
UCP was chosen to be the precast producer for IDOT’s first accelerated bridge construction project over Gar Creek in Kankakee County, IL. With UCP’s long history in supplying superior precast components for owners, including full and partial depth bridge approach slabs, wingwalls, abutments, and pier caps, we were selected as fabricator for this project. Precast was the clear option over cast-in-place since the installing contractor only had a 72-hour window to completely remove and replace the single-span bridge. Even though this was the first ABC project for IDOT, it was very successful paving the way for more opportunities to utilize this method of bridge construction on future projects.
UCP’s scope of work consisted of producing four precast wingwalls, two pier caps, two approach footings, and eight full-depth bridge approach slabs with integral parapets. The size and length of the pieces and the custom forming required to fabricate these structures were a few of the challenges that our highly skilled operations team overcame. The heaviest piece produced weighed nearly 78,000 lbs and spanned 39’-2”. It was cast with (11) 1’-9” diameter voids on the bottom surface ranging in height from 1’-6” to 2’-0” to fit over field-driven H piles. The voids were filled with high strength grout, allowing the load from the bridge deck to be transferred deep into ground. Strict tolerances were upheld by our top-notch, in-house quality control team to ensure exact dimensions of the precast components to avoid fitup issues.
The overall goal of implementing ABC on this project was to fine tune the current system for future projects. The project was a productive learning process for everyone involved, and only the most technically inclined precaster could have fabricated or maintained the dimensional tolerances of these intricate bridge structures. With UCP’s reputation for consistently meeting necessary target dates and our commitment to producing innovative and superior precast products, the decision was simple for the contractor. Utility Concrete Products welcomes the opportunity to be a part of future jobs that incorporate ABC.