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DOT Grants Target Modern Bridge Work
Friday, 26 June 2009 00:00

Innovations focus on concrete, sealers and corrosion resistant steel bars

It’s not part of the stimulus money coursing from federal coffers through state highway budgets, but a Department of Transportation program just sent $5.2 million to 14 states to help pay for innovations in bridge construction.

The grants range from $80,000 to $400,000 and are spread over 20 separate projects. They aim at highway structures, some of which include major trucking routes or intersect with freight railroad lines.

The grants may support only part of each construction project, but they help pay for new techniques or materials that can either cut construction or long-term maintenance costs.

“Advanced bridge construction and repair techniques cut construction time and repair costs and ultimately reduce traffic delays,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Grants for three separate projects in Virginia, Kentucky and Washington would utilize “self-consolidating concrete that spreads evenly on its own and needs less equipment and labor,” DOT said.

In Michigan and Idaho, grants went toward “precast bridge elements to accelerate construction.”

The Federal Highway Administration, which issues the grants under its Innovative Bridge Research and Deployment program, said “utilizing prefabrication strategies saves drivers countless hours of congestion caused by prolonged bridge work.”

Hawaii used DOT aid in a bridge project on Maui to install “sensors to monitor bridge conditions such as deterioration.”

California tapped grants for high-performance materials on two bridges to increase the deck’s strength and durability, including special concrete on an Interstate 80 site to help control cracking.

Several states are using the latest grants to look at what types of steel bars best resist corrosion, plus materials that can be added to protect the steel, as well as deck sealers such as epoxy.

The Journal of Commerce Online, 6/26/2009