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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This technical note is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-19-024    Date:  February 2019
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-19-024
Date: February 2019


Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge System - Bid Price Analysis and Cost Comparisons with Alternative Foundation Systems

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FHWA Publication No.: FHWA-HRT-19-024
FHWA Contact: Jennifer Nicks, HRDI-40, (202) 493-3075, jennifer.nicks@dot.gov

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In 2009, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) launched the Every Day Counts (EDC) initiative to identify and deploy innovations aimed at reducing the time it takes to deliver highway projects, reducing design and construction costs, enhancing safety, and protecting the environment (McAbee 2012). Because the Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil–Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS) meets these criteria, it was selected for and promoted through the first three rounds of EDC. The design and construction methods for GRS-IBSs are outlined in FHWA guidance (Adams and Nicks 2018).

Based on the experience prior to EDC, the GRS-IBS was a good solution for States and counties who had limited funds and a large inventory of bridges in need of replacement. The first production GRS-IBS, termed the Bowman Road Bridge, was built in 2005 in Defiance County, OH (figure 1). The county engineer developed an engineer's estimate (EE) and performed a cost comparison between this new, innovative solution (i.e., GRS-IBS) and an alternative foundation system that was standard practice in the county (i.e., concrete-pile, capped abutments with 2:1 spill-through slopes). Findings showed that, on the first GRS-IBS bridge, the county realized a 21-percent cost savings for the project (table 1) (FHWA 2010). After constructing more than 30 GRS-IBSs to date, cost savings for Defiance County were determined to be approximately 50 percent on average due to the ease of construction and increased construction efficiency gained from improved skill and experience (Schlatter 2015).


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