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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / July 2003

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-019
Date: July 2003

Accelerated Construction: Transferring the Technology

Reducing travel delays and disruptions caused by highway construction and increasing work zone safety are the twin goals behind the Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) initiative. Sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) Technology Implementation Group (TIG), ACTT promotes the use of innovative technologies and techniques to accelerate the construction of major highway projects. "A successful ACTT deployment is one that evaluates all possible options for acceleration of construction, including planning and design aspects of highway projects, for the benefit of the community and the traveling public," says Dan Sanayi of FHWA.

The ACTT initiative kicked off last year with two pilot accelerated construction workshops held in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (see August 2002 Focus). The ACTT strategy is to bring together staff from the host Department of Transportation and experts from other State highway agencies, industry, academia, and FHWA. In addition to design and construction, these experts' skill areas might include innovative financing, right-of-way, utilities, and innovative contracting, as well as work zone traffic control and worker safety, reflecting the many elements involved in accelerating a highway project.

The Indiana workshop focused on a needed improvement to Interstate 465 on the west side of Indianapolis. Following standard practice for reconstruction of the corridor would mean 5-8 years of construction, with two to three engineering contracts and at least five separate construction contracts. The workshop challenge was to see if corridor construction could be completed within budget in 3 years while effectively maintaining traffic flow and accommodating local traffic generators, such as the Indianapolis International Airport and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Workshop recommendations involved, among other things, optimization of prefabricated highway components, innovative work zone traffic control and incident management plans, and long-life roadway and bridge designs. INDOT's workshop evaluation concluded that implementing the workshop recommendations would make the project goals attainable.

The Pennsylvania workshop examined options for accelerating the rehabilitation of a 2.8-km (1.8-mi) segment of Pennsylvania Route 28 in Pittsburgh. Construction challenges include having to work on a tightly confined corridor that is supported by a retaining wall adjacent to railroad tracks along the northbound lanes. Adjacent to the southbound lanes are numerous residences and businesses and several historical landmarks. Recommendations made at the workshop for accelerating construction included transporting construction materials via river barges, in lieu of trucks, to minimize traffic congestion during construction; moving utility lines off of the corridor to minimize future traffic disruptions caused by utility work; and using multiple, high-speed wall construction teams to build the hillside walls and two of the lanes.

Following the success of the Indiana and Pennsylvania workshops, FHWA and TIG have been planning further implementation of the ACTT concept. The FHWA division offices are currently sharing ACTT work plan information with State highway agencies and soliciting their participation in the program. Several States have indicated that they are interested in the program, of which four (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Texas) have made formal requests to hold a workshop. The Texas and Connecticut workshops will be conducted in September of this year, with initial visits to the two States for pre-workshop coordination scheduled for July 15 and July 25, respectively. The California Department of Transportation will host its workshop in October. Detailed project information for these upcoming workshops will be provided in future issues of Focus. Connecticut also recently accelerated a bridge project in New Haven. To learn more, see sidebar, page 4.

For more information on ACTT or hosting a workshop in your State, contact Dan Sanayi at FHWA, 202-493-0551 (email: dan.sanayi@fhwa.dot.gov).

For the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT), constructing a new bridge over the New Haven Interlocking and Rail Yard presented the challenge of trying to minimize disruptions to both traffic and train service. To meet this challenge and eliminate the difficulty of building a bridge over active rail lines, ConnDOT specified that this portion of the bridge be completed in a single night operation over a weekend.

Crane Bridge lifted by cranes
Construction of the new Church Street Bridge in New Haven, CT, involved the use of the largest mobile, land-based high capacity crane currently in existence.

After months of work building the structure alongside of the active rail lines, the Church Street Bridge was lifted and set into place at 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 4, 2003. The construction operation, which was a first for ConnDOT, involved the use of the largest mobile, land-based high capacity crane currently in existence. The high-capacity crane, owned by Lampson International LLC, was delivered in more than 200 tractor-trailer loads of parts and required more than 4 weeks to assemble. The crane lifted the entire truss span over 20 m (65 ft) in the air and traveled more than 30 m (100 ft) towards the tracks, where the span was set in its final position. The truss span measured 97 m (320 ft) long and weighed more than 850 tons. This span is the main segment of the 390-m-long (1,280 ft) bridge that will carry the Church Street South Extension over the New Haven Rail Yard. The new bridge and roadway extension will connect New Haven's Union Avenue with Sargent Drive and provide an alternate route for traffic heading to the downtown, Sargent Drive, and Long Wharf areas of the city.

ConnDOT estimates that it saved approximately 1 year on its overall contract time by using the accelerated method of construction. The agency looked at two other proposals for the project, with the first being a traditional stick building of the structure, which would have cost an estimated $2 million more than using the crane. The second approach considered was to launch the bridge using a gantry, which would have cost $1.1 million more than the crane. These two approaches would have required temporary bents (supports) to be erected between the main railroad tracks. As this work would neccessitate four track outages, it could only have been accomplished on the weekends. The work also would have been impeded by the severe winter of 2002/2003 and the wet spring, making the accelerated approach an even smarter choice.

For more information on the Church Street Bridge project, contact Larry D'Addio at ConnDOT, 203-389-3132.

Bridge in place Bridge in place
The Church Street Bridge was lifted and set into place in a single night operation.

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