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Vermont Demonstration Project: Route 2 – East Montpelier Bridge Reconstruction
Because the Vermont project demonstrated the applicability of several innovative concepts related to simplified bridge design and construction, the use of high-quality durable materials that minimize future maintenance, and meeting the HfL program’s goals on safety, construction congestion, and quality, it was selected for a project demonstration showcase to provide technology transfer. A team consisting of representatives from VTrans, FHWA Vermont Division, FHWA Highways for LIFE, the University of Florida, and Applied Research Associates, Inc., planned, coordinated, and hosted the showcase.
The showcase was held on September 29, 2009, at VTrans’ offices in Montpelier. Invitations were extended to VTrans representatives and their partners in municipalities, academia, and consultants/contractors. Representatives from neighboring northeastern States also were invited. Registration filled up quickly, and approximately 50 people participated.
The showcase consisted of a morning session of presentations at the VTrans headquarters, an afternoon visit to the construction site, and a return to the headquarters for a question and answer and wrap-up session. The showcase agenda is shown in Appendix D.
The showcase benefited greatly by having Messrs. David Dill, VTrans Secretary of Transportation, and Ernie Blais, Vermont FHWA Division Administrator, and Wayne Symonds, VTrans Structure Design Engineer, open the meeting with their support and enthusiastic encouragement. This was followed by a fairly detailed project overview presented by Ms. Kristin Higgins, Project Manager, and Mr. Jim LaCroix, Project Engineer. Resident Engineer Mr. Chris Jolly and Contractor Superintendent Mr. Gordy Eastman followed with construction commentary and contractor perspective on the innovative features of the project. Mr. Jolly also provided a job site safety briefing. Both design and construction perspectives generated considerable interest and participation by the attendees. A number of questions were asked on the innovative features of the project. Ms. Pam Thurber then presented the Bridge Inspection and Preservation Unit perspective on design. This unit will benefit immensely from this project, which is anticipated to require minimal maintenance. Mr. Lou Triandfilou, FHWA’s High Performance Structural Materials Engineer, provided a national perspective on accelerated bridge construction.
The contractor stopped all construction activity during the site visit, enabling the visitors to walk around freely and look at the innovative features. At the time of the visit, the project was in the deck construction stage. Concrete had been poured on a portion of the deck. The attendees could see the condition of the solid stainless steel reinforcement in the deck. The contractor was very cooperative, and the construction workforce eagerly shared their experiences and answered questions from the showcase participants. After about 1.5 hours at the work site, the participants returned to the conference location for a question and answer and wrap-up session.
Proceedings of the Vermont showcase were both videotaped and photographed. The presentations are accessible from the Highways for LIFE website.
The Vermont project showcase was deemed a success. Participants had an opportunity to hear about and see first-hand the positive attributes of setting project stretch goals and meeting those goals with innovative elements and minimal construction delays. The VTrans project personnel were lauded for their efforts among their peers and contemporaries. This public praise and acknowledgement and success of the innovative approach undoubtedly will spur more innovation on future Vermont bridge projects.