Rapid Repair for Rockville Road Bridge

GAI got the call when a bridge over I-465 in Indianapolis needed immediate repair. Engineering Manager Matt Mason, PE, SE describes the award-winning effort that helped speed the project to completion.  

Major impact

Rockville Road
The impact to the Rockville Road Bridge on Jan. 10, 2017, damaged four support beams and rained concrete onto I-465.

It was about 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, when we got the call from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). A mobile ‘car crusher’ had raked the underside of the Rockville Road Bridge where it passes over the northbound lanes of I-465, severely damaging the southernmost four prestressed load-bearing beams. The crash sent chunks of concrete raining down onto the heavily trafficked beltway that surrounds Indianapolis and connects with major interchanges for I-70, I-74, I-69, and I-65.

Emergency-response bridge repair design

GAI is currently contracted with INDOT to provide design services for emergency bridge repairs—that means we are the go-to resource for calls like this that require immediate attention. Our crew was on site within two hours of the accident, and our work to design the Rockville Road Bridge repair began immediately. GAI’s Midwest transportation infrastructure staff made the project our primary focus—a commitment of expertise that helped complete the project two months ahead of schedule and some four months earlier than initially predicted.

 Timing is everything

There’s no time to waste when vital transportation arteries are affected. On the day of the accident, traffic stopped while crews secured the area and assessed the damage, then workers moved in to clear debris. Traffic on I-465 resumed the very next day at about 12:30 p.m.

Rockville Rd InspectionWhen GAI arrived on site we first inspected the top of the bridge deck roadway surface and saw only a small hole in the deck. That hole gave no indication of the type of destruction that had occurred to the beams underneath. When studying the underside of the bridge, we saw that four of the bridge’s prestressed concrete support beams were heavily damaged. The vertical webs of three of the beams had been completely severed and a fourth beam was too damaged to salvage. It was a wonder the beams were still standing. The team determined pretty quickly that each of these four beams needed replacement.

Valuable time was saved by accessing the bridge’s original approved beam shop drawings. The drawings were sent to the fabricator so the beams could be cast immediately without having to wait for us to design and detail the replacement beams.

Accelerated delivery of this project design was the result of a focused effort by GAI’s team of highly skilled bridge rehabilitation specialists. For instance, our Midwest Transportation Services Director, Mike Wenning, has some 35 years’ experience in bridge repair and rehabilitation to his credit—and that’s just one example of the expertise we were able to devote toward fast-tracking the project design and realizing a superior outcome. (See Mike Wenning’s blog post about historic bridge restoration.)

Constructive communication

Even with a sound and comprehensive project design, we knew that precious time could slip past if there was any miscommunication or lack of coordination among the involved parties.

Because of the accelerated nature of the project schedule, INDOT utilized one of its Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contractors to perform the demolition and construction.

To help ensure everyone was on the same page, we put together a preliminary set of bridge repair plans and then met on site with INDOT officials and the project contractor. This enabled us to fine tune the project with the contractors’ input to make sure that the plans described the demolition and repairs to the contractor’s liking.

Working with the feedback we received, we brought all of our available resources to bear and produced an all-inclusive project design in just 5 weeks. This collaborative approach went a long way toward minimizing misunderstandings and smoothing the way toward quick project completion.

GAI WINS ACEC AWARD FOR ROCKVILLE ROAD BRIDGE OVER I-465 PROJECT

On March 15, 2018, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Indiana Section presented GAI Consultants, Inc. with the 2018 Engineering Excellence Honor Award for the firm’s work on the Rockville Road over I-465 Emergency Superstructure Replacement Project.

With the ACEC Indiana Engineering Excellence Honor Award are, l-r: Michael Wenning, PE, Transportation Services Director, GAI; Scott Hornsby, PE, AVP Midwest Markets, GAI; Jeremy Hunter, Director of Bridge Design, INDOT

Keeping traffic flowing

One of GAI’s key assignments in addition to designing the bridge repair was to develop a maintenance of traffic plan to keep workers safe and vehicles moving safely and smoothly while work went forward. The plan had to account for multiple project phases during which traffic would have to be routed around changing work sites.

We designed a comprehensive maintenance of traffic plan that detailed multiple combinations of lane closures, shifts, signage, and more. Our plan worked to maintain flow for up to eight lanes of traffic at any one time in an area extending some 3 to 4 miles from the work site.

 On the road again

Our coordinated and sustained focus on this priority project saw the Rockville Road Bridge over I-465 open to traffic on May 1, 2017—just four months after the accident that brought traffic to a halt. For the folks at GAI, this bridge repair design project represented an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to INDOT and put our combined engineering, communications, and organization skills to work on a high-priority, high-impact project. But the gratification goes beyond demonstrating our expertise: it was great to be able to help out the community in such a tangible way.

Rockville Road reopening
INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuiness (l) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles (r) address attendees at the repaired Rockville Road Bridge ribbon cutting.

Contact Matt Mason, PE, SE for more information and answers to your questions about GAI’s bridge repair and other transportation infrastructure engineering services.

Matt MasonMatt Mason, PE, SE specializes in structural bridge design and project management. His bridge design experience includes designs for curved and straight steel girders, steel beams, prestressed concrete beams, bridge rehabilitations, and more. Familiar with structural building design, site/civil engineering, and highway engineering, Matt has performed bridge design in Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Maryland, Florida, and West Virginia.

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