Emerging Tech Trends in Bridge Construction

New technologies and materials are helping engineers and construction professionals build bridges better and faster, while also improving maintenance for longer bridge life. Sensors are being embedded into both new and existing bridges to provide continuous feedback on structural conditions. This data helps engineers identify and address problems earlier and improve public safety. One bridge building technology being used today is borrowing from ideas and designs of the past to produce a new structurally sound engineered bridge.

The Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil–Integrated Bridge System (GRS–IBS) is an innovative way to help reduce bridge construction time and cost. The technology consists of three main components: the reinforced soil foundation, the abutment, and the integrated approach. Alternating layers of compacted granular fill and geosynthetic reinforcement provide support for the bridge. The closely spaced reinforcement and granular soil create an efficient composite material that is internally stable and capable of carrying bridge loads significantly higher than designed with predictable and reliable performance.

The new bridge is basically a composite bridge structure that incorporates GRS abutments and prefabricated bridge superstructure elements. This approach eliminates the costly downtime associated with cast-in-place concrete, which can take a few weeks to a month to cure.

The bridge is placed directly on the substructure, creating a seamless and smooth transition between the bridge and approach roadway without joints, deep foundations, approach slabs, or cast-in-place concrete.

GRS-IBS projects can be built in weeks instead of months, due to the ease of construction and the use of readily available materials and equipment. GRS-IBS can help states and local public agencies meet the country’s demand for small, single-span bridges by delivering low-cost, strong, and durable structures in less construction time.

GRS-IBS provides environmental advantages, since construction of the abutment is contained within its footprint and a deep foundation is not needed. Environmental impacts are also minimized through shortened construction time and the reduced amount of steel and concrete required. These bridges are also durable and easy to maintain and have fewer components compared to traditional construction.

The technique can be used in less-than ideal weather conditions and can accommodate on-site modifications in the case of unforeseen site conditions. GRS-IBS bridges also perform well and can be designed for a wide range of loading conditions.

Posted: 9/13/2017 1:00:49 PM