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Standardized plans, designs, and concepts to use prefabricated elements to build and replace bridges faster.

Innovative Bridge Designs for Rapid Renewal (R04)


The nation’s aging bridge inventory, increased traffic congestion, and work-zone safety concerns call for new approaches to traditional sequential “construct-in-place” bridge building methods. The industry must find smarter, faster ways to replace bridges using techniques that will provide economies of scale in manufacturing and construction, reduce traffic disruption, and increase safety. Prefabricated bridge elements have been used in a number of states, but to date, each design is unique and requires a high level of engineering and construction oversight.


SHRP2’s Bridge Designs for Rapid Renewal product provides state and local departments of transportation with a design toolkit for prefabricated bridge projects. Standardized approaches streamline the activities required to get bridge replacement systems designed, fabricated, and erected in less time, and installed in hours or days, rather than weeks or months.

The R04 toolkit provides the following:

  • Standard design details, specifications, and concepts for foundation systems, substructure and superstructure systems, subsystems, and components.
  • Recommended specification language for ABC systems that are suitable for future inclusion in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Load and Resistance Factor Design (LRFD) Bridge Design and Construction Specifications.
  • A guidebook with instruction for bridge owners to use prefabricated elements that allows for rapid, cost-effective bridge replacements.
  • Design examples for complete prefabricated bridge systems.

Although the need for an engineer of record is not eliminated completely, this toolkit makes prefabrication design accessible to more bridge owners, designers, and contractors at the state, county, and local levels.


The R04 product can be used to build or replace typical bridges faster and at a lower overall cost. The concepts can be incorporated into thousands of small to medium span bridge projects with minimal alterations, resulting in reduced onsite construction time, minimized traffic delay and community disruption, improved work zone safety, and improved quality when compared with traditional construction practices. Using the toolkit and capitalizing on standardized approaches also enables local contractors and smaller agencies to deliver prefabricated bridge systems, since, in some cases, no special equipment or construction techniques are required.

In the Field

State Project Description Activity Contact
Arizona Implementation Assistance Program - Gila River Indian Community DOT applying toolkit to IR7 Gila River Bridge Lead Adopter Steve Johnson
Gila River Indian Community Department of Transportation
California Implementation Assistance Program - Caltrans applying toolkit to Fort Goff Creek Bridge Lead Adopter Dorie Mellon
California Department of Transportation
Iowa U.S. Highway 6 over Keg Creek Research Ahmad Abu-Awash
Iowa DOT
Kentucky Implementation Assistance Program - Transportation Cabinet applying toolkit to KY-6 Stewarts Creek Lead Adopter Kevin Sandefur
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
Maine Implementation Assistance Program - DOT applying toolkit to Kittery Overpass Lead Adopter Leanne R. Timberlake
Maine Department of Transportation
Michigan Implementation Assistance Program - Federal Lands Highway applying toolkit to Seney National Wildlife Refuge project Lead Adopter Victoria Peters
Federal Lands Highway
Missouri Implementation Assistance Program - DOT applying toolkit to Bridge A-0087 Lead Adopter Shay Burrows
Nebraska Implementation Assistance Program - NDOR applying toolkit to a bridge project Limited Technical Assistance Shay Burrows
New York Pilot tested the toolkit on 2013 slide-in bridge design and construction demonstration on I-84 over Dingle Ridge Road, Putnam County, NY. Research Shay Burrows
Rhode Island Implementation Assistance Program - DOT applying toolkit to Warren Avenue project Lead Adopter Shay Burrows
Vermont Pilot testing the rapid renewal bridge toolkit Research Chris Williams
Vermont DOT
Wisconsin Implementation Assistance Program - DOT applying toolkit to I-39 / I-90 expansion Lead Adopter William Oliva
Wisconsin Department of Transportation

Demonstration projects were conducted in Iowa and New York during the development phases of the R04 Toolkit product. Currently, the Toolkit is being applied to eight full-scale bridge construction projects around the country as part of the SHRP2 Implementation Assistance program. Contact information for these projects is included in the above table. Additional project descriptions are described below.


The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted the first pilot project of these methods in 2011, with the replacement of a bridge on US 6 over Keg Creek near Council Bluffs, Iowa. The replacement structure is a three-span steel/ precast modular bridge with precast bridge approaches. The bridge was demolished and replaced within 14 days using the standard plans developed as part of this project.

These innovative bridge elements were showcased as part of the pilot:

  • Prefabricated superstructure module: precast concrete deck on steel stringers.
  • Prefabricated substructure components: precast pier columns and caps and abutment stem and wing walls.
  • Prefabricated bridge approach: precast concrete panels and sleeper slab.


In September 2013, the New York State Department of Transportation replaced twin 135-ft-long, three-span steel-and-concrete I-84 bridges using accelerated bridge construction techniques because only a single night closure for each bridge would be required. Closure of the roadway for 18 hours allowed for the rapid demolition of the existing bridge and slide-in of the new superstructure. Conventional bridge replacement would have taken two years. The ABC process saved NYSDOT $2 million by eliminating the need for a temporary bridge. To learn more, view the project video.

Field activities also performed in Alabama and Ohio during the research phase.

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