July 2, 2019 – LEHIGH COUNTY, PA – When unforeseen circumstances arise in the field, effective partnership between the project owner, designer and contractor is key to overcoming challenges and maintaining a safe construction site. The replacement of the SR 0029 Bridge over Indian Creek required such a partnership after severe weather conditions threatened the project’s phasing plan and budget.
Constructed using Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) techniques, the replacement structure consists of a 42-foot-long single span bridge using a precast, prestressed, concrete NEXT Beam superstructure with integral abutments. The original construction sequence utilized a temporary support of excavation system during substructure construction over multiple half-width stages with short-term off-peak single lane road closings. This sequence would allow SR 0029 to be reopened during peak volume times, prior to a weekend-long detour to install the new superstructure.
However, unusually wet summer weather led to unforeseen soil conditions causing the contractor to almost lose an excavator. The unstable soils raised potential concerns regarding the existing bridge’s structural integrity, as well as the possibility for an emergency roadway shutdown. The team had to reevaluate their original plan.
In order to proceed safely with the project, the team devised a new construction plan which extended the closure from one weekend to six days. A public outreach plan was devised and put in place, and nearby communities were notified as to how the changes would impact travel through the area.
The contractor worked non-stop, maintaining a 24-hour-a-day roadway detour during the extended closure. By maintaining constant contact with the contractor, owner and the public, Benesch and the entire project team were able to move ahead successfully with their revised staging plan. The team even managed complications from a major storm at the project site, which hit just after the superstructure was completed during the shutdown.
Despite this major hurdle to the project’s construction, the SR 0029 bridge was completed on schedule and under budget. The project’s distinct circumstances made it an ideal candidate for the 2019 TQI Partnering Award by the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC). In April, the project team consisting of PennDOT District 5-0 (owner), Benesch (designer) and HRI (contractor) was honored with the TQI Partnering award for their outstanding commitment to teamwork on the challenging project.