ABC keys recovery effort in upstate N.Y. following hurricanes

Jan. 11, 2013

In September 2011, the Catskill Mountain communities of upstate New York—Oliveria, Big Indian, Phoenicia and Hardenburgh—were faced with the aftermath of hurricanes Irene and Lee. With nearly all bridges collapsed, access to highway connecting links was destroyed. In addition, cell-phone service was nearly entirely knocked out for residents, and many of these isolated communities and homes lost electricity. With the bridges being the only links between the high mountain villages, something had to be done to get to those who were trapped. The only viable solution was to replace the bridges—quickly and soundly.

Partnering with LHV Precast Inc., a leading purveyor of precast concrete products in the Hudson Valley, Stone Strong used accelerated bridge construction (ABC) to get the job done. This supplier-to-contractor relationship was highly effective, spanning cohesive throughout the duration of the project—from design to construction.

On this job, the ABC process utilized reclaimed materials from a destroyed bridge in conjunction with high-tech performance materials. Eco-friendly precast modular hollow blocks from Stone Strong were then transported to sites of downed bridges and filled with either aggregate or concrete, depending on the damage level. The blocks were provided in a variety of sizes and shapes, which were available in 45 and 90 degree angle options. Lightweight (about 120 lb per square foot, 20% lighter than standard concrete-mix-designed panels) and fitted with cast-in-place lifting loops allowed for blocks to be easily carried and set by just two workers. The blocks also had aesthetic appeal, as crews placed those with a chiseled granite finish similar to the 19th century abutments that dot the Catskill landscape

Within 24 hours of initial construction kick-off, the Hatchery Hollow bridge was open and running. And within three months, five bridges, one box culvert and two bridge decks were constructed, allowing refuge and reconstruction to begin in the marred region. With substantial success solidified in the Catskill Mountain region, the extensive damage to surrounding regions called for reconstruction of many more bridges through the winter.