Along a stretch of Interstate 15 near Mesquite, Nevada, engineers from across the United States gathered to watch crews swap out two decaying bridges with newly constructed infrastructure in just a few dozen hours.
Known as ‘accelerated bridge construction,’ the process involved building the replacement bridges on temporary platforms immediately adjacent to the existing structures. When the new bridges were completed, the old infrastructure was demolished, and the new bridges were slid into place using hydraulics, Teflon-coated rails and common dish soap. The structures were slid 5 feet at a time until securely in place.
In that traditional building times for bridges can be as long as a year or more, accelerated bridge construction allows for roadways to stay open during the time-consuming building process – only shutting down during the rapid installation period. In Nevada, the roadway was shut down for just 56 hours before traffic resumed as normal.
The process offers transportation officials a cost-saving, public-pleasing option for tackling aging infrastructure the world over. Mesquite’s ‘bridge slide’ saved an estimated $12.7 million in time and fuel costs for commuters. Future installations could save even more by opting for generic-brand dish soap, as Nevada’s Department of Transportation insisted on using Dawn for the project. Thus far, no advertising deal seems to be in the works.