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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / January/February 2004

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-04-022
Date: January/February 2004

Choosing the Accelerated Construction Route in New Jersey

When the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) began planning improvements to the westbound structure of the Rt. 46 Bridge spanning Overpeck Creek in Bergen County, it faced numerous challenges. The bridge is located next to the New Jersey Turnpike and is only about 8 km (5 mi) west of the George Washington Bridge leading into New York City, so minimizing the impact of construction on the traveling public and completing the work as soon as possible was vital.

NJDOT evaluated several construction alternatives, ranging from partial replacement of the bridge deck and bascule span to total replacement of the westbound superstructure. It was estimated that total replacement of the westbound superstructure would take 12 months and cost $10 million. Looking to reduce the construction time, NJDOT decided to consult with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Technology Implementation Group (TIG) and the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) team. The ACTT initiative promotes the use of innovative technologies and techniques to accelerate the construction of major highway projects (see July 2003 Focus). "We were hoping they could help us find solutions to the bridge design and identify cutting edge ways to build the bridge as soon as possible," says Gary Toth, Director of Project Planning and Development at NJDOT. "Minimizing the impact of the construction on the public is crucial."

An ACTT team composed of representatives from TIG, FHWA, and industry met with NJDOT in July 2003, toured the bridge, and received an overview of the project. The team then presented its findings to New Jersey in October. These included considering various scheduling options for accelerating construction, such as closing the westbound lanes for work and detouring traffic during the evenings, on weekends only, or at all times during a 1- to 2-month total closure. The team recommended total closure to reduce construction time to 6 weeks. The team also presented numerous technology options for speeding up the work, including the use of preconstructed composite units of lightweight high-performance concrete (HPC) in beams and the deck or the use of steel beams and lightweight HPC for the deck, with polymer concrete for joint closures. Another deck option was to use fiber-reinforced polymer composites.

After considering the team's recommendations, New Jersey has decided not to replace the entire superstructure or use road closures, but to use prestressed, precast HPC for a new bridge deck to expedite construction. New Jersey will also replace some of the bridge's secondary steel beams, while maintaining the bascule span steel girders. Work to replace the bridge deck is expected to begin next year and last 3 months, at an estimated cost of $3 million. The improvements will be carried out while maintaining two lanes in the westbound direction at all times.

"It was very helpful for us to have the ACTT team come in," says Toth. New Jersey has also decided to call upon the ACTT team's help for a much larger $250 million project, the reconstruction of the I-295/I-76/Rt. 42 interchange in 2008. This major north-south route is "probably the most traveled section of highway in New Jersey," says Toth, carrying about 175,000 cars a day. "If we can get in and out faster, it will be a major benefit." New Jersey will host a full, 2-day ACTT workshop on the project later this year.

For more information on the Rt. 46 project, contact Pete Kenny at NJDOT, 609-530-8072, or Kamlesh Shah at NJDOT, 609-530-5539. To learn more about ACTT or hosting a workshop in your State, contact Dan Sanayi at FHWA, 202-493-0551 (email: dan.sanayi@fhwa.dot.gov). Information on ACTT is also available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction/accelerated/.

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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