Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program
Photo collage: temporary lane closure, road marking installation, cone with mounted warning light, and drum separated work zones.
Office of Operations 21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Accelerated Construction

overhead bridge construction

Accelerated construction uses various techniques and technologies to help reduce construction time while enhancing/maintaining safety and quality.

Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer Program

The Accelerating Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) Program promotes the use of innovative technologies and techniques to accelerate the construction of major highway projects or corridor improvements using a multidisciplinary team approach.

Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC)

  • Nevada I-15 Bridge Construction - The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) used accelerated bridge construction to move a bridge 60 feet across I-15 in Mesquite in approximately six hours without closing the road. This effort was part of the West Mesquite Interchange project to widen Falcon Ridge Parkway in Mesquite, Nevada, and increase capacity for future traffic demand. The use of ABC allowed NDOT to build the bridge for more than $10 million less and six months faster (reducing traffic disruptions from months to days) than using traditional construction methods. The bridge was built off-site nearby. Then the existing bridge was demolished and the new bridge moved into place over two 56-hour periods (one for each span). With freight accounting for nearly 25% of the vehicles travelling on I-15 each day, keeping the road open during construction eliminated disruption to commerce. The road was kept open by routing traffic up and down the ramps at the Interchange so that it bypassed the construction area. In addition, residents and I-15 commuters saved nearly $13 million in time and fuel by eliminating the need for closures, detours, and reduced speeds. The use of ABC also brought safety benefits for workers, motorists, and pedestrians, with the bridge built adjacent to the freeway and out of traffic. As stated by the contractor who proposed the use of ABC, "We knew that ABC would cost more, but we could make up the difference saving on lane rentals, building the crossovers, limiting excavation and reducing time and overhead."
  • Massachusetts Cedar Street Bridge Replacement - The use of accelerated bridge construction, design-build project delivery, and incentive/disincentive contracting allowed the Massachusetts DOT to replace a bridge over a busy stretch of Route 9 in Wellesley in 62 hours, making it the state's fastest bridge replacement ever.
  • Fact Sheet – States Across the Country Implement Accelerated Bridge Construction - FHWA fact sheet that provides examples of how several states are using ABC strategies to significantly reduce the time to construct/replace a bridge, as compared to traditional cast-in-place methods.
  • FHWA Accelerated Bridge Construction Web Site
  • "FHWA Bridge Conference Spotlights Opportunities and Successes in Accelerated Bridge Construction" - Article in September 2010 issue of Focus that discusses the 2010 FHWA Bridge Engineering Conference: Highways for LIFE and Accelerated Bridge Construction.
  • Massachusetts River Street Bridge Replacement - The use of ABC techniques, including Self-Propelled Modular Transporters, enabled the Massachusetts DOT to replace the River Street Bridge in Boston over one weekend.
  • Massachusetts FAST 14 Project - The use of accelerated bridge construction, prefabricated bridge elements and the design-build project delivery method enabled the Massachusetts DOT to shrink a four-year bridge replacement project to just one summer. The $98 million project, dubbed "Fast 14," involved the rapid replacement of 14 deteriorated bridge superstructures along I-93. MassDOT received a Highways for LIFE grant to use innovation on the project.
  • District of Columbia Eastern Avenue Bridge Reconstruction - Through the use of innovative engineering, the District DOT (DDOT) completely reconstructed the Eastern Avenue Bridge over Kenilworth Avenue (DC 295) in less than 10 months. Several large elements of the new bridge, including the supports and bridge deck, were pre-cast off-site, then delivered by truck and lowered into place overnight by crane. By closing the bridge and using innovative methods, DDOT was able to decrease the overall schedule from a projected two years to less than one year for this $11.4 million project.
  • Utah ABC Experience - Utah DOT (UDOT) was awarded a $1 million grant from FHWA's Highways for LIFE Program to demonstrate the use of proven, innovative technologies for ABC. As a result of the successful use of ABC to remove and replace the 4500 South Bridge over I-215 in Salt Lake City, UDOT decided to use ABC techniques more routinely on future projects and to make ABC standard practice for all bridges by 2010.

Prefabricated Bridge Elements and Systems

Prefabricated bridge elements and systems offer bridge designers and contractors significant advantages in terms of construction time, safety, environmental impact, constructability, and cost.

Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMTs)

SPMTs are multi-axle, computer-controlled platform vehicles that can move bridge systems weighing up to several thousand tons with precision to within a fraction of an inch. The vehicles can move in any horizontal direction and also have vertical lift.

  • Manual on Use of Self-Propelled Modular Transporters to Remove and Replace Bridges - FHWA manual that provides details from project conception to completion for using SPMTs to remove or install a bridge. It describes equipment, lists benefits and costs, and identifies criteria to help determine when this technology is appropriate. It includes example calculations, diagrams, plan sheets, and specifications, as well as case studies of bridges moved with SPMTs.
  • SPMT Brochure - AASHTO brochure that describes SMPTs and the benefits of using them.
  • I-35 Maryland Avenue Bridge in St. Paul, Minnesota - In August 2012 the Minnesota DOT (MnDOT) used an SPMT for the first time to move the Interstate 35E Bridge (Maryland Avenue Bridge) in St. Paul. The bridge was moved into position in two sections and was part of a pilot demonstration of the SPMT technology for MnDOT. The SPMT technology will enable MnDOT to close the bridge for approximately 60 days as compared to four months using traditional construction methods.
  • Sam White Bridge over I-15 in American Fork, Utah - In March 2011, the Utah DOT (UDOT) used two sets of SPMTs to lift the Sam White Bridge across eight freeway lanes of I-15. This was the longest two-span bridge ever moved by SPMTs in the Western Hemisphere and was UDOT's 23rd use of the technology.
  • I-215 Bridge in Salt Lake City, Utah - The new I-215 Bridge in Salt Lake City was built adjacent to the existing bridge but away from traffic and was moved into place using SPMT technology over one weekend.
  • Graves Avenue Bridge in Volusia County, Florida - This project was the first time the SPMT technique was used to replace a bridge over a U.S. interstate highway.
  • Bridge Deck Replacement Project Using SPMTs - In a joint project between Oregon DOT and Washington DOT, SPMTs were used to widen and replace the deteriorating deck of the Lewis and Clark Bridge on State Route 433 over the Columbia River with a full-depth precast concrete deck, while maintaining full rush-hour traffic.

Precast Concrete Systems

Precast concrete pavement panels are cast offsite and installed in a short time span when traffic volume is low and lanes can more readily be closed. In high-traffic areas, they can reduce traffic congestion and offer several advantages over traditional cast-in-place construction, including enhancing project safety and mobility, increasing durability, and enabling installation under overpasses with limited height clearances.

  • "Precast Concrete Pavement Systems Speed Construction" - Article in June/July 2008 issue of FHWA Innovator.
  • Utah's Precast Concrete Pavement Experience - In 2009 the Utah DOT (UDOT) completed their first full-scale precast concrete pavement project, replacing several damaged slabs along I-15 near Clearfield and Layton, Utah. UDOT documented a number of lessons learned from the project that could be applied to future projects with precast slab repair.
  • Virginia I-66 Project - This project evaluated two precast concrete pavement technologies, and conventional cast-in-place construction, to replace distressed pavement slabs on a ramp from I-66 to US 50. The Virginia DOT (VDOT) found that precast concrete pavement is a viable alternative to cast-in-place. Using PCPS enabled VDOT to maintain traffic on a busy road by only closing lanes at night, also maximizing worker and traveler safety. Although the PCPS made initial construction costs marginally higher, its usage saved VDOT and motorists $481,244 over conventional cast-in-place pavement construction due to reduced delay costs, improved pavement performance, and less need for future reconstruction.

Caltrans Long-Life Pavement Rehabilitation Strategies (LLPRS) Program

Caltrans began implementing its Long-Life Pavement Rehabilitation Strategies (LLPRS) program in 1998. While LLPRS is not specifically an accelerated construction strategy, many of the projects that have been completed as part of the program have used a variety of strategies to accelerate construction. The goal of the LLPRS program is to rebuild approximately 2,800 lane-km of high volume urban freeway with pavements that are designed to last more than 30 years with minimal maintenance. The LLPRS Program also addresses the state's need for cost effective approaches for rebuilding the aging pavements in its urban highway network.

  • Example: I-15 Devore Project - Innovative construction methods were used on this LLPRS project, enabling Caltrans to cut the project from 10 months to 19 days.

Other Accelerated Construction Resources

  • Webinar on Accelerated Construction - Held on May 30, 2013
    • Recording
    • Transcript (HTML, PDF 101KB)
    • National Overview, by Seema Javeri, Federal Highway Administration (HTML, PDF 1MB)
    • Massachusetts DOT I-93 FAST 14 Project, by Neil Boudreau, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (HTML, PDF 5.3MB)
    • Accelerated Construction Using Precast Concrete Pavement Systems on the Illinois Tollway, by Steve Gillen, Illinois Tollway (HTML, PDF 3MB)
  • 2012 Peer Exchange on Accelerated Road Work for Work Zone Safety & Mobility - Materials from an FHWA sponsored workshop to discuss how strategies to accelerate road work can be used to significantly reduce work zone safety and mobility impacts.
  • 2009 Domestic Scan of Accelerated Construction Practices - In 2009 the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and FHWA completed a domestic scan of accelerated construction practices for pavement and bridge construction projects. The scan tour visited eight cities in five States and resulted in the identification of accelerated construction best practices in the areas of partnering, design, planning, and contracting strategies, and a set of case studies that demonstrate how projects can be successfully delivered more rapidly.

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