Accelerated bridge construction is gaining momentum, as evidenced by one project in New England. Oldcastle Precast of Rehoboth, Mass., manufactured eight 80-foot-long prefabricated bridge units for the Memorial Avenue Rotary Overpass Replacement project in West Springfield, Mass.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), using accelerated bridge construction techniques, made improvements to two overpasses: State Route 147 (Memorial Avenue) and U.S. Route 5. The techniques include innovative planning, design, materials, and construction methods in a safe and cost-effective manner to reduce the onsite construction time that occurs when building new bridges or rehabilitating existing ones. Both bridges were replaced in just one summer.

The 80-foot-long units varied between 10-foot to 15-foot, 9 inches wide and weighed up to 80 tons. Each prefabricated unit is composed of a precast concrete deck cast on two steel beams. To create the new bridge deck for the east- and westbound bridges, the prefabricated bridge units were set side-by-side on field abutments.

Closure pours were then cast between the units, tying them together before installing the final bridge pavement. Used often in accelerated bridge construction, the prefabricated bridge units replaced the existing superstructure on both bridges.

Driven by the Federal Highway Administration, MassDOT has embraced using innovative construction techniques like prefabricated bridge units. By replacing bridges with these units offsite, MassDOT eliminated years of work on the road, reduced onsite construction time, minimized traffic impacts, and lessened work zone safety risks to the public.

This was one of several accelerated bridge construction projects in which Oldcastle has participated in the past three years.