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Crews Keep the Concrete Moving

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

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Motorists in Utah are catching sight of a new bridge over the I-15, but it’s not meant for vehicles, cyclists or even pedestrians, and it’s not a permanent addition.

The Utah Department of Transportation has erected a temporary conveyor bridge to make construction of a section of the highway safer, more efficient and less disruptive.

Salt Lake Tribune

UDOT erected a temporary conveyor bridge to to make construction of a section of the highway safer, more efficient and less disruptive.

UDOT is using this uncommon bridge in the midst of phase one of its work on the Point of the Mountain highway reconstruction project just outside of Salt Lake City.

Improving Workflow

The conveyor bridge was built to carry concrete overtop of the highway, delivering it from the batch plant directly into the work zone in the freeway where lanes are being rebuilt alongside existing travel lanes, UDOT project director Tim Rose told the Deseret News.

At 100 feet in length and 20 feet wide, the conveyor belt and supporting bridge structure are capable of holding up to eight tons, the Daily Herald reported.

Rose indicates that a creative solution like this is very useful in a major construction project, adding that the primary reason to make use of a bridge such as this is to save the contractor time and money.

Some of the benefits UDOT is seeing from the conveyor bridge solution include work continuing without interrupting traffic; fewer truck trips, which reduces exhaust emissions and fuel consumption; as well as improved safety for drivers.

Additionally, “[w]e’re eliminating 15,000 trucks,” Rose said. “Instead of taking 15 to 20 minutes to get a truck to the work site, we’re getting there in (just a few) minutes.”

He told the Salt Lake Tribune that without the conveyor, they would be unable to get their trucks into the work zone safely during the day; they would be limited to night work alone. However the bridge “allows us to run 24/7. This will allow them to work all day, double shifts.”

It is constructed to ensure that concrete doesn’t falling onto drivers passing underneath and also includes security measures to prohibit trespassers.

Getting from Point A to Point B

The conveyor carries several tons of concrete from a site east of the interstate to the center of the freeway, according to the Herald, where the concrete drops into a waiting bin.

Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune

The conveyor carries several tons of concrete from a site east of the interstate to the center of the freeway, where the concrete drops into a waiting bin.

Rose explained that the concrete mix on the conveyor is not “wet, gray cow pies,” but a mix that is extremely condensed and stiff.

“This is not the normal wet concrete you’ve seen,” Rose told the paper. “We call it slump. That’s a technical term for how stiff the concrete is, 10 on the high side, zero on the low side.”

The concrete mix they use is either a zero or one, he said, adding, “It’s probably stiffer than the gravel we use.”

There are two mixers at the batch plant at Point of the Mountain. As one hopper unloads onto the conveyor belt, the other is mixing.

“It’s so stiff, we have to use a vibrator to get it to lay down,” Rose said.

Once the concrete arrives at the end of the bridge and the belt rolls under for its return trip, the concrete extends out over a truck waiting below, breaks and falls into its bin.

A Novel Solution on Point

Though it’s the first time such a structure has been used over a highway in Utah, according to Rose, it is not a new invention. Known as a "Bailey bridge," the Tribune reports, British developed the idea of a portable, prefabricated, truss bridge was during World War II, and it was used extensively by British, Canadian and American military engineering units.

“The Point” project will widen the highway to six lanes in each direction, replace old pavement with new concrete, reconstruct the 14600 South interchange, enhance the existing traffic management system, and include new signs and striping on the roadway Deseret News reported.

According to the Tribune, these oldest parts of the highway, built in the 1960s, were known to buckle under the heat of the summer sun.

Begun in March, phase one of the $252 million project, expanding I-15 to six lanes each way from Lehi to Draper, is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2016.

Phase two, the reconstruction of I-15 from SR 92 to Lehi Main Street, is scheduled for 2021.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Bridges; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways; Uncured concrete

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