Michigan pilot program bundles bridge repairs in search of construction efficiencies

A first-ever Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) pilot program combines the repair of 19 bridges in serious or critical condition under a single contract to streamline coordination and permits, and benefit cost savings. ‘ladder.

The pilot program was funded by the Federal Highway Administration through Highway Infrastructure Program (HIP) funds, specifically to address the overall condition of Michigan’s bridges, which currently rank in the bottom 15 nationally. .

“Generally, we split every federal dollar equally between MDOT bridges and local agency bridges,” says Matthew Chynoweth, chief bridge engineer and director of MDOT’s Office of Bridges and Structures. “For this program, we have decided to devote 100% of the money to the bridges of the local agencies. This is also the first time MDOT has built bridges for local agencies, so we had to hybridize authorization between how we do it and how local agencies do it.

The bridges were chosen because the main structures, including the abutments and piers, were in good condition, but the superstructures required work. The MDOT contract was awarded as a low-bid, design-build project with some flexibility for unforeseen conditions.
It was not necessary to reproduce the original type of construction.

The winning bid of US$24.3 million was submitted by a joint venture involving two Michigan contractors – bridge construction specialists CA Hull from the east of the state and Anlaan Corporation from the west. Projects are spread across several Michigan counties: Clinton, Eaton, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Luce, Macomb, Muskegon, Ottawa, St. Clair, St. Joseph, and Wayne.

MDOT – Work began on the massive bridge pilot project in March. By mid-June, five of the 19 bridges had been repaired and reopened with the aim of completing all projects by November. Pictured is the Byron Road Bridge in Ottawa County, Michigan.

The winning design involved stripping each superstructure and then installing press brake formed galvanized tube girders, inverted U-shaped girders ideal for short span bridges. Only three girder specs would be needed to complete all the repairs, and these would be topped with a new bridge deck.

“We gave the entrepreneur great flexibility in planning and resource allocation,” says Chynoweth. “Some bridge repairs had to be completed within 60 days of starting work and some bridges within 90 days of starting work. However, we did not tell the contractor when to start work on a particular bridge. They were also free to work on the bridges simultaneously or one after the other.

To date, the contract has required only minor modifications. For example, the design specifications required the placement of rockfill in the streams at a certain elevation to protect the stream. However, in one case, the depth of the watercourse would have required the placement of such a quantity of material that the flow of the watercourse would have been affected.

“That requirement was removed from the contract for that bridge, so they owe us credit,” Chynoweth explains. “In another case, the hot mix asphalt was thicker than expected, so they needed another pass with the milling machine and we worked with them to pay a little extra for that.”

Work began in March. By mid-June, five of the 19 bridges had been repaired and reopened with the aim of completing all projects by November. A 20th bridge will be fully replaced due to hydraulic issues, using the same funding, but under a separate contract. Stakeholders can view project updates on a purpose-built bridge cluster website.

Although the pilot program appears cost-effective, Chynoweth says the purpose of the pilot was to pave the way for a much larger bundling program that could better benefit from economies of scale.

“That’s where I can see big savings,” he says.

An estimated 59 additional bridges are being considered for rehabilitation or replacement in Phase 2 of the program, which will focus on closed and dependent bridges. The first batch, which is expected to be leased for construction in November this year, will focus on the removal of the bridge. The remaining bridge projects will be leased for construction over the next two years, with all funding committed by September 2024.

Ryan H. Bowman