ITD concrete innovation saves time and money on bridge projects          

Maintaining the country’s bridge infrastructure, while reducing impacts to the public, is a challenge across our country – it has also created an opportunity to innovate new technologies and techniques.

A new process of Accelerated Bridge Construction has grown in popularity – this process pre-casts concrete segments of bridges before moving them into place and connecting them using an Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC). While this accelerated process has many advantages, UHPC can be costly.

“UHPC is very expensive,” said ITD Bridge Designer Leonard Ruminski. “It costs $8,000 - $10,000 per cubic yard where conventional concrete costs $600 per cubic yard.”

Much of the costs associated with UHPC is because the concrete mixture is proprietary and it involves a complex application process. With this in mind, Ruminski and his team set out to find a cost-effective alternative that still provides a high-quality concrete.

What the team came up with is an innovation that blends a more conventional concrete with polypropylene fibers. This modification has the potential to reduce bridge construction by several days.

ITD bridge designers are working closely with researchers from Idaho State University to see how well this material performs once installed.

“Our research is based on actual jobs being done,” Ruminski said. “I hope the research will prove the proposed material is quite adequate – hopefully other states will pick up on that too.”

So far, one bridge has been built using this innovation and another bridge is being designed – using this alternative to UPHC will save the state roughly $100,000 on these two bridges alone.

Published 09-01-17