Technical feasibility of a quick bridge replacement strategy with minimal traffic hindrance

On the retainment of existing foundations and the application of Advanced Cementitious Materials in an Accelerated Bridge Construction method

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Bridges are a crucial part of the dense Dutch highway network. Almost 50% of the current bridges are built between 1960 and 1980 for an intended service life of 50 years and thus they might reach the end of their lifetime in the near future. This strongly indicates that a large challenge can be expected regarding infrastructural replacement.
In current practice, the replacement of bridges within the highway network often leads to substantial traffic hindrance, which has a large negative impact on the Dutch economy. Therefore reduction of traffic hindrance – together with sustainability – is generally an important quality criteria in MEAT-procedures (Most Economic Advantageous Tender) for tender assignments. In order to prepare for the upcoming replacement challenge, there is a need for contractors, the government and product suppliers to invest in the development of a sustainable tender strategy now.

The main objective of this thesis was to propose a tender strategy that incorporates sustainability and in particular the reduction of traffic hindrance into a technically feasible design. An extensive literature review has led to a quick bridge replacement strategy consisting of three time-reducing actions, listed according to their potential profit in construction time:

1. Select the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) approach:
By means of lateral sliding or transportation by SPMTs (Self-Propelled Modular Transporters) entire superstructures can be constructed off-site and transported to their final location in a matter of hours.

2. Retain the existing foundations:
In terms of on-site construction time it would be beneficial to retain the existing foundations. Additionally, theory suggests that a profit in bearing capacity can be obtained compared to the current design codes, which might lead to the total elimination of additional foundation elements required.

3. Avoid intermediate supports:
Less elements are required if intermediate supports are avoided in the new bridge design. This does however lead to longer spans, and to prevent additional groundwork activities from an increase in deck height a higher slenderness must be obtained. Furthermore, the new superstructure design must be as light as possible, not only to allow for foundation retainment, but also to facilitate transportation and speed of erection.

In particular, the technical feasibility of these actions - both separately and combined - required more research. A case study considering a two-span plate bridge was used to investigate these strategy actions. Research was done into the obtainable profit in retained pile foundations and the application of UHPC in a slender and lightweight bridge concept.

It was concluded that the proposed tender strategy has a high potential. Not only is the on-site reduction time diminished but the retainment of the existing foundations and the application of UHPC in a slender and lightweight superstructure may also lead to a highly sustainable design.