Interchange projects become Oklahoma DOT’s largest awarded contract of all time

In this ODOT photo looking south, both I-35 interchanges in Norman involved in the state’s largest construction contract ever awarded are pictured.

In this ODOT photo looking south, both I-35 interchanges in Norman involved in the state’s largest construction contract ever awarded are pictured.

The reconstruction of two interchanges on Interstate 35 in Norman has generated the single largest construction contract ever awarded by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The department awarded the contract to Sherwood Construction Company of Tulsa with a $71 million base bid with possible financial incentives.
The contract calls for the reconstruction of the northern half of the I-35 interchange at State Highway 9 East as well as the reconstruction of the Lindsey Street Bridge as a single point urban interchange. A project reconstructing the southern half of the interchange began in 2013 and is nearly complete.
The new Lindsey Street interchange will feature longer on and off-ramps at I-35, a wider bridge and a single array of traffic signals on top of the bridge to allow large volumes of traffic to negotiate the area, ODOT announced.Work is scheduled to start early next year and both projects are expected to be completed halfway through 2017.The state bid the projects together due to their close proximity, but work on the State Highway 9 interchange will be completed before crews begin work on the Lindsey Street reconstruction.

Sherwood will earn financial incentives if the company is able to complete all of the work in less than two years and minimize the temporary closure of 24th Avenue Southwest during the State Highway 9 reconstruction project.

This article was written by Wayne Grayson, Online Managing Editor of Equipment World.

Ohio's 'Jobs and Transportation Plan' continues to fuel infrastructure investment

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich.

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich.

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich’s “Jobs and Transportation Plan” is entering its second year with a projected $2 billion investment in the state’s infrastructure, economy and jobs over the next several years.

The state’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) has given preliminary approval to continue the governor’s plan that – once complete – is expected to create up to 60,000 new jobs and make a total investment of $3 billion, most of it coming from money leveraged by the Ohio Turnpike.

“Under the leadership of Governor John R. Kasich, we have been able to turn a $1.6 billion budget problem into a $3 billion infrastructure investment in just a couple of years,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray said in a statement. “While other states debate tax increases to dig their way out, Ohio has proven that with innovation, we can continue to make progress and build these massive transportation projects that communities tell us they want and need.”

Some of the more notable changes or additions to the second-year plan include:

  • Constructing a new interchange at State Route 16 and Cherry Valley Road in Licking County;
  • Advancing the next phase of the Interstate 270/State Route 315/U.S. Route 23 reconstruction project in Franklin County by eight years;
  • Expediting construction of two future phases of the Cleveland Innerbelt project in Cuyahoga County;
  • Adding a third lane on Interstate 70 from U.S. Route 68 and State Route 72 in Clark County;
  • Reconstructing Interstate 70 at U.S. Route 40 and State Route 331 in Belmont County;
  • Upgrading the interchange at Interstate 71 and Western Row Road in Warren County; and,
  • Building a new railroad crossing on Grand Avenue and adding half-mile extension with new intersections at U.S. Route 127 and University Boulevard in Butler County.

The governor’s plan was kicked-off last year and quickly invested more than a billion dollars in state infrastructure spending. Projects launched this past construction season, which are currently underway include the:

  • Portsmouth Bypass in southeast Ohio;
  • MLK Boulevard interchange in southwest Ohio;
  • Widening of I-75 in northwest Ohio;
  • Expansion of I-80 in eastern Ohio; and,
  • Next phase of the I-70/I-71 project in central Ohio.

A complete list of all projects TRAC approved for construction throughout the state in the coming years is located here.

Maintaining America’s most historic tourist routes

Epoxy chip seal is a favored method to bridge repair when dealing with worn decks because it seals micro-cracks in the concrete decking, protecting the  structure’s rebar from salts.

Epoxy chip seal is a favored method to bridge repair when dealing with worn decks because it seals micro-cracks in the concrete decking, protecting the
structure’s rebar from salts.

Americans love to explore the countryside in their cars, and many regions have obliged by designating special scenic travel routes. But few roads have been as deliberately designed to appeal to the sensibilities of travelers as Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota.

Iron Mountain Road is the north-south leg of the historic route 16A, which departs from Route 16 to access the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Custer State Park. Tunnels cut into rock outcroppings were situated to frame views of the faces carved into Mount Rushmore and are an integral part of the tourist experience when visiting the memorial. The road is known for its single narrow lanes as well as its spiral or “pigtail” bridges, engineered in 1932 by the superintendent of Custer State Park to traverse the steep elevation gain of the mountainous area. The steel structures of the bridges are covered by heavy timber facings, in keeping with the rustic character of the roadway.

Maintaining the historic road using modern equipment and techniques – without altering its character – was a challenge confronted by repair crews who undertook its resurfacing in early 2014. The $4,334,109 project called for milling and resurfacing 17 miles of roadway, along with bridge repair. Complicating matters was the fact that the region’s economy depends heavily upon summer tourism. While the towns surrounding Mount Rushmore have resident populations that number in the hundreds, the memorial is visited by nearly 3 million people each year. Furthermore, snowy winters – Mount Rushmore is 5,680 feet above sea level – meaning that prime construction times coincide with the tourist season. The repair schedule for Highway 16A was restricted to the narrow window of time in which temperatures were warm enough to accomplish the roadwork but closures inconveniencing the traveling public were minimized.

Repairing bridges with epoxy chip seal

By April 14, repair efforts on four pigtail bridges were underway. The repair method chosen was two-coat bridge deck epoxy chip seal. As per the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) Standard Specifications for Roads and Bridges, epoxy used must consist of a base component and a hardener; the second component of the system is a cover aggregate that conforms to specified hardness and gradation. The placement process on Highway 16A involved application of the mix at 40 sq.-ft. per gallon with a second application occurring three or four hours later, applied in the amount of 20 sq-.-ft. per gallon, explains Ryan Steinback, project manager, J.V. Bailey Co., Inc., the prime contractor for the bridge work. The two coat application of the product improves the surface’s life span and wearablilty.

Epoxy chip seal is a favored method of bridge repair when dealing with worn decks because it seals micro-cracks in the concrete decking, protecting the structure’s rebar from salts. The epoxy resin also binds well with concrete decking on the bridge. Cover aggregate provides skid resistance, improving the safety of the roadway. Epoxy chip seal’s easy application process and the fast cure time also help keep project schedules on track.

SDDOT specifications require diamond grinding of bridge decks in preparation for the placement of epoxy chip seal overlays. Grinding eliminates existing tining and irregularities in the road surface. A ground profile affords a clean and uniform surface, improving the adhesion of the chip seal coating. The SDDOT specifications dictate longitudinal grinding that results in parallel corduroy texture consisting of grooves between 0.090 and 0.130 inches (2 and 3 mm) wide, with the distance between grooves being between 0.060 and 0.125 inches (1.5 and 3 mm). The peaks of the ridges are required to be equal to or less than 1/16-inch (1.5 mm) higher than the bottom of the grooves. The existing surface on the 16A bridges had been in place since 1991 and was very rough, so grinding the surface improved its overall smoothness.

Bridge repair work, including the epoxy chip seal, is expected to add 12 to 15 years to the life of the structure, according to Steinback.

“The process of grinding bridges and applying an epoxy chip seal wearing course is a fast and easy way to extend the life of bridges,” says Rory Heizelman, project engineer at SDDOT. “In South Dakota, this repair method has been seeing increased use in the past few years. It also has a lesser impact on the traveling public than some other repair methods.”

Getting the job done

Considering that a full-size Target Model PR 3800 grinder was used on the bridges, navigating the road’s narrow lanes, elevation gain and tight curves was a challenge. All road repair equipment also had to be kept out of the state and national parks, so bypass routes were all that were available for crew to use.

“The grinder was too heavy to be trucked up the narrow mountain road. Accompanied by cars in front and behind, the grinder had to be driven – at a maximum speed of 50 feet per minute – up to the bridge locations,” said Dan Stoltenberg, the grinding division manager at Diamond Surface Inc. This meant unloading the equipment as much as 2 miles away from the site of the grinding.

Working on the narrow Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota, two grinder operators were required to control the accuracy of the grinding process.

Working on the narrow Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota, two grinder operators were required to control the accuracy of the grinding process.

Working on the narrow roads was also tricky. Two grinder operators were required in order to control the accuracy of the grinding process. The regular grinding machine was unable to maintain blade contact in areas near the bridge where the turning radius was tight and its use would have resulted in a gap of several inches along the turns. In these areas the Diamond Surface, Inc. team used a close proximity grinder built by the company.

“It’s a hydraulically powered 2-foot curb-and-gutter grinder,” Stoltenberg explains. “The head is mounted off to the side, so it is able to grind at angles and hug road curves.” Use of this grinder achieved cuts within 1 inch of vertical surfaces.

Terry Kraemer, president of Diamond Surface Inc., notes that some of the bridges were also entrances to tunnels and the tunnels were narrower than the bridges. “This added another element of difficulty to the grinding process,” Kraemer says.

For each bridge, the grinding process took two days (including prep work). J.V. Bailey Co., Inc. then spent several weeks cleaning and staining the wood facings of the bridges as well as performing minor repairs on spalled areas of the bridge surfaces. One timber bridge spanning a drainage area was completely removed and replaced with a culvert system and one-lane road.

To maintain the historic flavor of the route, “even concrete used on the bridges is stamped with wood grain and painted brown,” Stoltenberg says. Bridge cleaning efforts entailed stripping and repainting these sections of concrete.

An unseasonably cold spring caused temperatures to remain too low to place the chip seal until June, but by June 13, this final surface had been applied on each of the four pigtail bridges. The road was then opened to traffic and remained open through mid-August to accommodate crowds associated with the annual motorcycle rally, Sturgis (, one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world. The fact that early repair work had remained on schedule allowed not only for unrestricted road travel during the tourist season, but permitted the DOT to move forward in the early fall with additional repairs and maintenance of associated roadways.

At the onset of the job, it was unknown whether the bridge decks could be ground according to the stringent specifications. But “the end result was one that all parties were pleased with and we learned that – with the proper amount of finesse and excellent operators – most anything can be ground,” Kraemer says.

Article and photos courtesy of the International Grooving & Grinding Association (

Project team members

  • Prime Contractor: J.V. Bailey Co., Inc.
  • Grinding Contractor: Diamond Surface, Inc.
  • Materials Supplier: Washington Rock Quarries
  • Materials Supplier: Poly-Carb

Last second Christmas gift ideas for highway and bridge construction workers

Construction SantaHopefully you’re not one of those people who wait until the last second to do all of your Christmas shopping. If you are, stay safe trying to fight the crowds of shoppers as the big day approaches.

Thankfully there are several last second gifts that are sure to please the highway and bridge construction worker on your list. Below are a few cute ideas to help you leading up to the 25th. For more Christmas gift ideas check out Equipment World’s 12 Days of Construction Gifts.


Hammer Stress Relieverhammer-stress-ball-toy-stressed-construction__31970.1411403371.1280.1280

Whether on or off the job, never separate a construction worker from his hammer. For under five dollars, is selling a hammer stress reliever to help out during those difficult days. Whether you feel like taking your anger out on a computer monitor, a co-worker, or even a not-so-nice boss, this is one hammer that can’t do a whole lot of damage, but it will certainly help you relieve some stress.


Construction Ornament

2010-construction-ornamentEveryone has that person on their Christmas list who is near impossible to shop for. What do you get them, what could they use? Well, you can always play it safe by getting him/her a construction ornament for the Christmas tree.

This construction ornament is currently being offered by for $8.95.


Work Apparel 

It probably goes without mentioning, but every construction worker can appreciate quality work apparel. Whether it be new work boots, gloves, or even a durable watch that can take the abuse of the job, it would almost certainly bring a smile to his/her face.


Caterpillar Dozer for Kidsscreen-shot-2014-12-15-at-8-26-37-am

If you’re shopping for a child, or maybe even a construction dad who wants to relate to his kid, check out this Caterpillar dozer from Kid Trax. It has a working blade that the child occupant can raise and lower. It also has two motors that allow the diminutive dozer to turn in place just like the real thing.


When All You Got’s A Hammer…62526982_155x155_pad

“When all you got’s a hammer, everything looks like a nail!” Can you think of a better saying to put on a construction worker’s shirt, coffee mug and/or shot glass? We didn’t think so! The saying can be ordered on several different items at


Bridge Builder Mug

Know a bridge construction worker who takes a lot of pride in his job? If so, this “bridge builder” mug, also on, would make a great Christmas gift.




Blinking Traffic Cone4193_blinkingtoytrafficcone_1.jpg

If you know somebody who spends most of their time on highway and bridge construction sites, this traffic cone could help them feel right at home. It can be used as a paperweight, or to warn family members that they better use caution when messing around on your computer desk.


Work, Dogs, Work 51oSVncOF7L

What kind of highway construction worker doesn’t love some one-on-one reading time with their kid? In Work, Dogs, Work: A Highway Tail, a crew of dogs work to repair a road. This picture book is a potential gift that would bring joy to any highway construction parent.

Tennessee eyes weight-distance tax to boost road funding


The Chattanooga Time Free Press has reported on a panel session in the Tennessee state legislature that showed lawmakers considering a weight-distance tax like the one currently levied by its neighbor to the north as well as the states of New YorkNew Mexico and Oregon.


California to test feasibility of mileage tax

Tennesseee Senate speaker Ron Ramsey noted the proposal was made as a measure to boost state revenues for road funding by Paul Bailey, a freshman member of the state Senate and a Republican from Sparta, Tenn. Bailey also happens to own a trucking company and small farm. According to the Times Free Press report, Bailey stressed the ability for in-state-based firms to deduct the cost of their own weight-distance fees from business taxes. According to Times Free Press reporter Andy Sher, Ramsey’s prognosis for this and other highway-funding proposals was likely to reach into 2016.

You can read Sher’s full report at this link.

This article was written by Todd Dills, Senior Editor of Overdrive Online.

Illinois Tollway helping veterans with free training Dec. 18, Jan. 8

Illinois_Tollway_logoThe Illinois Tollway has an ambitious 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, and it’s helping veterans get involved.

The agency will host four free Veterans Goals Workshops to provide an opportunity for prime contractors, subcontractors and veteran-owned businesses to learn how to identify veteran-owned small businesses or service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses and to prepare bids for upcoming construction contracts related to the Move Illinois program

The Tollway’s Veteran Goals Workshop for Contractors will be held at the Illinois Tollway headquarters, 2700 Ogden Avenue in Downers Grove, with sessions on Dec. 18, 2014, and Jan. 8, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. CT and from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT

To register for the workshop, or just for more information, click here and go to the Doing Business – Diversity Programs section of the website.

The workshops will be led by the Illinois Tollway Engineering and Diversity and the Strategic Development departments staff. During the workshops, the Tollway Authority says there will be an opportunity to ask questions and learn about documentation for the Veterans Business Program. The workshops will also cover how to find veteran-owned small businesses or service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses.

According to the Illinois Tollway its tentative 2015 Budget includes $1.63 billion for the largest year of capital spending in agency history, including funding for the fourth year of the agency’s Move Illinois Program.

The 2015 Tentative Budget provides $1.56 billion in funding for capital infrastructure projects, including the following:

  • $839.6 million to continue rebuilding and widening the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a state-of-the-art 21st century corridor,
  • $319.8 million to continue building the new, all-electronic Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project, $107.9 million to resurface the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) from Illinois Route 251 to U.S. Route 30,
  • $19 million to begin design for bridge reconstruction on the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80)
  • $6.1 million funding planning studies for the Illinois Route 53/120 Project and other emerging projects.
  • $241.1 million has been budgeted for 2015 for system-wide roadway, interchange and bridge repairs and other work to address the needs of the existing Tollway system.

Through the State of Illinois’ Veterans Business Program, state agencies and universities are encouraged to set goals to collectively help commit 3 percent of purchases statewide to certified veteran-owned businesses, according to the Illinois Tollway.

The agency is evaluating all agency solicitations for inclusion of veteran-owned small business or service-disabled, veteran-owned small business goals. To participate in the Veterans Business Program, firms must be 51-percent owned and controlled by a qualified veteran living in Illinois and be in compliance with the Veterans Small Business Verification Act.

'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' holiday crackdown begins

19281248_BG1U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator David Friedman have kicked off the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday crackdown on drunk driving by unveiling a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home.  New data revealing a decline in drunk driving deaths in 2013 has also been announced.

The new data reveals a 2.5 percent decline in drunk driving deaths in 2013. Yet, even with this decrease from the previous year, 10,076 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver in 2013, the equivalent to one death every 52 minutes. December 2013 was the month with the lowest number of drunk driving fatalities with 733 lives lost.

“We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said Secretary Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”

NHTSA’s new SaferRide app will help keep drunk drivers off our roads by allowing users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available for immediate download on Android devices on Google Play.

“We’re making progress in the fight against drunk driving by working with law enforcement and our safety partners, and by arming people with useful tools, such as our new SaferRide app,” said Deputy Administrator Friedman.  “This holiday season, don’t make the selfish and deadly choice to drink and drive.”

This year’s crackdown started on December 15 and continues until January 1, 2015. During this period, more than 10,000 participating police departments and law enforcement agencies will be out in force to protect the public and get drunk drivers off our roads. These efforts are supported by an $8 million dollar U.S. DOT national advertising campaign conveying NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over message.

Construction industry growth numbers keep outlook positive

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via Associated Builders and Contractors.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via Associated Builders and Contractors.


The latest report from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) highlighting construction growth last month is welcome news and a good sign that the construction industry continues to recover.

ABC’s Chief Economist Anirban Basu says that nonresidential construction added nearly 5,000 jobs in November and that the outlook remains positive.

The U.S. construction industry overall added 20,000 jobs in November, with nonresidential construction contributing 4,900 of them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate released Dec. 5, ABC reported.

Also notable is Basu’s point that the “greatest constraint on nonresidential job growth may no longer be a lack of demand for construction services, but rather a lack of supply of sufficiently skilled workers.”

Basu says that a growing demand for human capital coupled with tighter labor markets strongly suggests that industry wage pressures will expand in 2015, “perhaps to the extent that margins will be rendered too thin for many firms, even in the face of rising demand for services.”

He also points out that while the national construction unemployment rate expanded from 6.4 percent to 7.5 percent on a non-seasonally adjusted basis in November, it is primarily due to seasonal factors. “The construction unemployment rate has historically expanded during the colder months of the year, and November’s figure should not be seen as a cause for concern,” Basu says.

According to ABC, here is a snapshot of how construction employment for the November and the past year breaks down:

·Nonresidential building construction employment fell by 2,400 jobs for the month but is up by 9,500 jobs, or 1.4 percent, since November 2013.

·Residential building construction employment expanded by 3,400 jobs in November and is up by 47,300 jobs, or 7.5 percent, on an annual basis.

·Nonresidential specialty trade contractors added 7,300 jobs for the month and employment in that category is up by 47,400 jobs, or 2.2 percent, from the same time one year ago.

·Residential specialty trade contractors gained 13,300 jobs in November and have added 75,500 jobs, or 4.8 percent, since November 2013.

·The heavy and civil engineering construction segment lost 1,300 jobs in November and job totals are up by 33,200, or 3.7, percent on a year-over-year basis.

Although the market has improved, I know the construction industry has still not rebounded to previous pre-recessions levels. However, I think we are all dealing with what is “the new normal,” and I’m glad to see the positive outlook in these latest numbers.

Tappan Zee bridge construction shut down after silos collapse

One of the floating concrete batch plants being used to build the new Tappan Zee Bridge collapsed on Tuesday. | Photo: Times Herald-Record.

Construction of the new Tappan Zee bridge halted on Tuesday after silos collapse. | Photo: Times Herald-Record.


Construction of the Tappan Zee bridge was shut down on Tuesday following the collapse of silo structures on the floating concrete batch plant.

“Tappan Zee Constructors today shut down operations of both floating concrete batch plants due to a failure of one of the silo structures which caused the other two silo structures on one of the batch plants to collapse,” Tappan Zee Constructors’ spokeswoman Carla Julian said in a statement, according to the Capitol Confidential.

Thankfully no injuries were reported following the collapse.

“All workers are safe and representatives from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and engineers from TZC and the New York State Thruway Authority are on the scene assessing the situation. Safety and environmental stewardship are our top priorities as we continue to investigate this incident.”

The incident on Tuesday is the first major construction issue to halt construction on Tappan Zee bridge since the replacement project began nearly two years ago.

Experts are currently investigating the accident. At this time the bridge is still scheduled to be completed in early 2018.

2014 Better Roads Bridge Inventory

Methodology: The Better Roads Bridge Inventory is an exclusive, award-winning annual survey that has been conducted since 1979. Bridge engineers from every state and Washington, D.C., are sent a survey with both qualitative and quantitative questions. The Federal Highway Administration, in consultation with the states, has assigned a sufficiency rating, or SR, to each bridge (20 feet or more) that is inventoried. Formula SR rating factors are as outlined in the current “Recording and Coding Guide for Structures Inventory and Appraisal SI&A of the Nation’s Bridges.” The qualitative data are gathered through a questionnaire about major issues concerning bridge conditions and maintenance. For the FHWA’s explanation of what makes a bridge structurally deficient and how a bridge becomes functionally obsolete, go to Better Roads’ editorial staff would like to thank all the state highway engineers for their continuing cooperation and special effort to provide current data. The data was collected through October 2014. FHWA, in consultation with the states, has assigned a sufficiency rating to each bridge (20 feet or more) that is inventoried.

When it comes to the state of our nation’s bridges, money has always been the major barrier to improving the state of our nation’s bridges. Funding, though critical – and severely lacking – is just part of the reason. It’s also about mindset: Not just waiting for bridges to fall into disrepair but also embrace the preventive maintenance approach. Kind of like fixing those squeaky brakes or going to the doctor with a small problem before it becomes a big one. It’s also about the people – the personnel. Sometimes you have to invest a little to make changes.

W. Kyle Stollings, director of the Maintenance Division for the West Virginia Department of Transportation, says that insufficient funding certainly will have a “tremendous impact on getting structures rehabilitated or replaced” but, we also need to “get away from the ‘worst first’ mentality and focus more on system preservation.”

Adam Matteo, P.E.., assistant state bridge engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation, agrees. He notes that insufficient funding will restrict important working in the coming year – that “our desire to keep ahead to the upcoming influx of structures that will require replacement or major rehabilitation is greatly affected by back of funds and personnel.”

That being said, Matteo points, “[We] need to change the emphasis of replacing structures with the goal of keeping the good structures good through performing preventive and restorative maintenance.”

When asked in the 2014 Bridge Inventory survey if any aspect of his department could be changed to improve bridges, Matteo said: “[To] create a dedicated fund that would be used to repair and replace structures. It would be primarily to keep the structures in good condition good with a secondary goal of slowly bringing the structure in poor condition up to good.”

That pesky, perennial problem of funding remains the greatest challenge to lowering Virginia’s rate of structurally deficient (SD) and functionally obsolete (FO) bridges in the coming year, but regardless of this roadblock, Matteo says the state still expects to lower its number of SD/FO bridges (23 percent of total combined bridges are SD/FO in Virginia, or 4,816 of 21,061 total bridges in the state).

How the States Stack Up: A Look at the Top Five

1. District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.): Washington, D.C., came in this year with the highest percentage of combined SD/FO bridges. Again, like last year, the nation’s capital also expects to be able to lower its rate of SD/FO bridges. Don Cooney, infrastructure project management administrator for the District’s agency, told Better Roads last year in our Bridge Inventory survey, “all but one of our structurally deficient bridges is in the District’s ‘Six-Year Plan’ for rehabilitation or construction.” (For the 2013 Bridge Inventory, go to Cooney reiterated this in this year’s survey as well. “All but one of our structurally deficient bridges is in the Department’s Six-Year Plan for rehabilitation or construction,” Cooney noted in the Better Roads 2014 Bridge Inventory survey. “Several are under construction. Only lack of funding would affect the program. Insufficient funding will delay implementing design and construction of bridge projects.”

On self-ranking scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the poorest), Cooney gives D.C. a 3.5. Why? “Several rehabilitation projects have been completed and 18 new bridges have been added to the inventory.” Washington, D.C., has 209 total bridges, 120 (57 percent) of which are total combined SD/FO.

2. Rhode Island: This East Coast state came in as the second highest in percentage of total combined SD/FO at 51 percent. Rhode Island reports having 757 total bridges, and 387 (that 51 percent) are total combined SD/FO. Fifty-one percent (310 out of 612) of its total number of interstate and state bridges are also considered as combined SD/FO. Fifty-three percent of its total combined city/county/township bridges (77 out of 145) meet the SD/FO classification. David Fish, P.E., managing engineer of bridge design for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (DOT), says he doesn’t expect to lower the states of SD/FO in the coming year. That rate has held steady, though. Last year, Rhode Island also ranked at 51 percent of its total bridges being considered SD/FO. In a self-rating for how well a state’s bridges rank, on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the poorest, Fish gave Rhode Island a 2 “[because] Rhode Island currently has the second-lowest bridge ranking in the United States.”

How is Rhode Island able to work toward improving its bridges? “Funding” is the biggest challenge in lowering the SD/FO rate, Fish says. Insufficient funding in the coming year “would prevent us from implementing more of the preservation contracts that are needed to help reduce the rate of SD bridges in the state.” Producing a list of preservation action that would qualify for federal funding would help the system of planning and maintaining bridges in this country, Fish says. In fact, Fish says if he could change any aspect of his department to improve bridges in the state, he says he would “implement more bridge preservation programs and implement programmatic agreements with regulatory agencies to expedite the design process.”

3.Pennsylvania: Coming in as the third state in the nation with the highest percentage of total combined SD/FO bridges, 38 percent (8,613) of Pennsylvania’s 22,623 bridges are considered SD/FO. Last year, 39 percent (8,752) of all Pennsylvania’s bridges (22,593) were considered SD/FO. The state has 16, 125 total combined interstate and state bridges, 34 percent (5,433) of which are considered SD/FO. Last year, 34 percent (5,530) of the state’s total 16,135 total interstate and state bridges were considered SD/FO.


At a more local level, 49 percent (3,180) of Pennsylvania’s 6,498 total city/county/township bridges are classified as SD/FO this year. In 2013, 50 percent (3,222) of the state’s 6,458 total city/county/township bridges were considered SD/FO.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is taking advantage of the public-private partnership (P3) tool that Republican Gov. Tom Corbett Jr. (governor at the time this article was written, which was before the Nov. 4 election) signed into law in 2012 to start an initiative to help improve the state’s bridges. With the P3 approach, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) says it will able to replace hundreds of these bridges more quickly, save money, as well as minimize the impact on the traveling public.(For more specifics, go to

For a list of the Final Rapid Bridge Replacement Project Bridge List, current as of Sept. 22, 2014, go to

As of Oct. 24, 2014, a team had been selected to replace 558 bridges through the P3 project. The team, which included 11 Pennsylvania-based subcontractors in its proposal, must begin construction in summer 2015 and complete the replacements within 36 months, according to a written statement from PennDOT. The state retains ownership of the bridges, but the team is responsible for maintaining each bridge for 25 years after its replacement. (For the official press release, go to

PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said in the press release that this initiative reflects Gov. Tom Corbett Jr.’s “strong commitment to taking innovative steps to bring improvements to the state’s roads and bridges more quickly and at reasonable cost.” He also notes that the agreement helps Pennsylvania “take a big step to cutting further into its backlog of structurally deficient bridges.”

Pennsylvania didn’t return the comments section of the 2014 Bridge Inventory survey, but from these initiatives it’s clear that it is working aggressively toward improving bridges in the state.

To preserve bridge safety, PennDOT says that it along with local bridge owners, are in the process of adding new weight restrictions or lowering existing weight restrictions on nearly 1,000 bridges throughout the state. For the full list of bridges that will receive new restrictions or have their current weight limits lowered, go to

CausesOfMostDamageToBridges20144. Hawaii: The Aloha State is No. 4 in terms of the highest percentage of overall total combined SD/FO bridges in the nation. Hawaii has 1,163 bridges in the state, and 428 of them (37 percent) are classified as combined SD/FO. Breaking it down, 771 of its 290 (38 percent) of its total combined interstate/state bridges are considered SD/FO. In terms of its total city/county/township bridges, 138 of 392 (35 percent) these bridges are a total combined SD/FO.

Paul Santo, bridge design engineer for the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), says he expects that Hawaii will be able to lower its rates of SD/FO bridges in the coming year. “A couple of bridges are rehabilitated, so the total number of SD/FO bridges should be less,” Santo says.

In a self-rating scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the poorest, of how Hawaii should be rated in terms of the health of the state’s bridges, Santo gives it a 3. “We have a high percentage of bridges that are deficient with insufficient funding to be effective,”’ he notes. If he could change any aspect of his department to improve his state’s bridges, Santo says it would be to “allocate more funds to improve the bridges.”

When asked to what extent insufficient funding will restrict important working in the coming year, Santo noted that it was the “same as the previous year.”

Although Hawaii ranks as fourth in the nation for highest percentage of SD/FO bridges, HDOT received a Preservation Commendation in late May for its Hawaii State Historic Bridge Inventory & Evaluation from the Historic Hawaii Foundation’s 2014 Preservation Honor Award. The effort evaluated all state and county bridges statewide built before 1968 and assessed their preservation values, according to HDOT. The agency notes that this information will be used to assist and provide guidance in HDOT’s future project development. A total of 708 bridges were identified and evaluated for eligibility into the Hawaii State Register of Historic Places or the National Register of Historic Places. (For more about this award and evaluation, go to

5 (TIE)Connecticut: This New England state is tied with Massachusetts and New York for the state with the fifth highest percentage of total combined SD/FO bridges in the nation at 36 percent. The state has 4,202 bridges and 1,501 are considered SD/FO. In terms of combined total interstate and state bridges, 37 percent (1,093) of the 2,951 bridges are considered SD/FO. Thirty-three percent (408) of the total combined city/county/township bridges are considered SD/FO.

Connecticut has an action plan to help improve these numbers. For the Transportation Infrastructure Capital Plan 2014-2018, go to

5 (TIE).Massachusetts: Out of this state’s total 5,162 bridges, 36 percent (1,837) are considered combined SD/FO. The interstate and state total combined bridges come in at 36 percent (1,297) of these 3,585 bridges are classified as SD/FO. At a more local level, 34 percent (540) of the total 1,577 city/county/township bridges were found to be total combined SD/FO.

Through April 1, 2014, the latest data available, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Accelerated Bridge Program has advertised 191 construction contracts with a combined construction budget valued at $2.26 billion. (For an active project list, go to Of the 191 advertised construction contracts, at press time, 52 have already, or will, repair/replace over 270 bridges throughout Massachusetts. Thirty-nine are maintenance/preservation projects which perform work to improve the safety of many additional bridges throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. MassDOT has declared 155 of them complete with two additional contracts terminated and the remaining scope transferred to other contracts.

MassDOT says the historic $3 billion Patrick-Murray Accelerated Bridge Program represents a “monumental investment in Massachusetts bridges.” The agency notes that this program will “greatly reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state system, while creating thousands of construction jobs on bridge projects.”

MassDOT and Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will rely on the use of innovative and accelerated project development and construction techniques to complete this program. As a result, MassDOT says the projects will be completed on-time, on-budget and with minimum disruption to people and to commerce. (For a photo slideshow of Massachusetts that are part of this program, go to

5 (TIE). New York: Also coming in at 36 percent in terms of total percentage of overall SD/FO bridges, 6,223 of the state’s 17,397 bridges are SD/FO. The state’s has 8,339 total combined interstate and state bridges, 38 percent (3,208) of which are classified as SD/FO. The state’s 9,058 total combined city/county/township bridges have 33 percent (3,015) considered as SD/FO. However, New York doesn’t expect to lower its rate or SD or FO bridges in the coming year, according to the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) responses on the 2014 Bridge Inventory survey. That being said, NYSDOT self-rates itself as a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the poorest, in terms of condition of its state’s bridges. Why? NYSDOT says that 67 percent of its bridges are in good conditions – not SD or FO.

Funding availability will remain as the biggest challenge in lowering the states rate of SD/FO bridges, but other restrictions such as specs, contracts or time restrictions won’t affect how well the agency is able to replace or repair deficient bridges.

NYSDOT tells Better Roads in the 2014 Bridge Inventory survey that insufficient funding will “significantly” restrict important work in the coming year “since our aging bridge population requires continual investment in repair and maintenance.”

There have been 70 bridges closed in the last five years, and this year, 18 have been closed in the state because of deficiency, structural failure or collapse – but some of these bridges are slated for repair.

For the full state-by-state listing (and Washington, D.C.) of how the nation’s bridges fare, see the table on page 24.

For continual coverage on the data from the 2014 Bridge Inventory, look for coverage on (or sign up for the free daily newsletter during the work week to get the information delivered to your inbox) and in upcoming issues of Better Roads. We’ll be posting tables sorted by percentages, by numbers, DOT wish lists and the great challenges to lowering the state rate of SD/FO bridges. BR



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