Let these pages attest to strength and success

May 13, 2020

This column published as "Resilience" in May/June 2020 issue

Welcome to our annual bridges issue. As ever, it highlights advancements in building and innovative bridge design methods. 

Of course, it would be timely to use this modicum of space afforded to me to limn the impacts of COVID-19 on our road and bridge industry. (Last month’s column, in a small but earnest manner, attempted to do just that.) But I fear that, given how rapidly and perniciously things are changing, what I might say would be rendered, to a great degree if not entirely, moot by the time this reaches you—that the impacts being realized would have invariably shifted and a new set of circumstances replaced those in which I am presently writing.

The challenge of bridge building and design, however, is evergreen, and so it is to this we’ll turn our eyes.

I had never considered the idea that a waterway could itself be, in fact, a highway. Nor that a pier or dock could be, in essence, a complex bridge structure. I was therefore wonderfully surprised to be corrected on both counts by Washington State Ferries Structures Manager Jeri Bernstein in her article, “Where Land and Sea are One.” The Washington State Ferries system is the largest such network in the U.S.—yes, larger than the one in the New York area—serving both Washington State and British Columbia, Canada. As an agency of the Washington State DOT, its terminals and ferries are, in fact, part of the state highway system, and crucial to mobility in the Puget Sound area. You’ll find a detailed look at new construction on this system on page 24.

If you liked our cover this month (and who wouldn’t?), page 14 will reveal how the Iowa DOT and design firm HDR were able to utilize Bentley software to create building information modeling (BIM) of various bridges within the I-80/I-380 interchange reconstruction project (“The Future Calls”). BIM is growing in scope and applicability in the bridge building world, just as CAD replaced paper not so long ago. 3-D design technology has myriad benefits, ranging from improved quality control to an enhanced ability to tie multiple stakeholders into a seamless net of data-driven focus for a given project. It is, insofar as I understand it, swiftly becoming a touchstone of progress and resilience. 

Our own Associate Editor Tim Bruns takes a deep-dive look at another interesting 3-D BIM project in the city of Dublin, Ohio in his story (page 42) of a pedestrian bridge tying communities together over the Scioto River. More than a decade in the making, this 760-ft-long suspended span is literally an “eye of the needle” walkway that required an enormous amount of ingenuity on the part of designer T.Y. Lin International.

Our Bridge Rescue – Span Spotlight shines on the rehabilitation of the historic Penn Street Bridge in Reading, Pennsylvania. Page 52 will walk you through how the project team extended the life of this “Gateway to Reading,” ensuring that the bridge met current standards and modern-day needs. And if that’s not enough, RS&H’s Joe VanHoose—along with some terrific photography—unpacks a big simple-made-continuous girder success in Colorado.

Our times are uncertain, and that’s likely to be the case for a while. Let’s focus on the wins.

About The Author: Budzynski is senior managing editor of Roads & Bridges.

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