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Development & Transportation

Building Bridges in Bulk Expected to Save Pennsylvania Money

Within the next three years, 558 bridges throughout Pennsylvania will be replaced.

PennDOT announced Monday that it had finalized the terms for its Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.

“The construction and some of the maintenance will cost roughly $899 million,” said PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt. “But we’re expecting to save a good bit for each bridge compared to if we were going through our typical process, and it’s happening much faster than it normally would.”

That’s because PennDOT is teaming up with the Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners, a private-sector collaboration of several firms. The partnership has a team of 11 Pennsylvania-based subcontractors that will help carry out the project.

According to Waters-Trasatt, all the bridges will be replaced by the end of 2017, but the Partnership will be responsible for the bridges’ maintenance for 25 years after construction.

Traditionally, designing, constructing and maintaining a bridge for 28 years would cost more than $2 million, but PennDOT says each bridge included in the project will cost around $1.6 million.

“We’re seeing savings on these bridges because they’re bundling them and they’re of similar design,” Waters-Trasatt said.

She said the Rapid Bridge Replacement Project brings several bridges into one contract.

“So they can use the same or similar designs on multiple bridges – they can make a lot of the components for the bridges off-site and just bring them to the site and assemble them there so they’re not very complicated,” Waters-Trasatt said. “And they’re going to be done more quickly because of that.”

Waters-Trasatt said the bridges were selected because they are very simple in design and have minimal issues with any of the surrounding area.

She also said PennDOT will make sure that there will be minimal impact on drivers during construction.

“These projects are being coordinated with our regional offices, still, so they have to get their routes approved and any of the scheduling approved,” Waters-Trasatt ensured. “So it will not interfere with other PennDOT projects or certainly it won’t isolate any people or cut any people off during the duration of the project.”