...contract to a joint venture of Flatiron Constructors, Longmont, Colo., and Manson Construction, Seattle. The 1,216-ft-long, 10-lane concrete bridge will feature a 504-ft-long precast segmental main span. The project is expected to be completed by Christmas 2008.

As MinnDOT moves forward with I-35W, the future of other state bridge and highway projects is in doubt. With some funding in limbo, Bob McFarlin, assistant to the commissioner at MinnDOT, said the agency runs the risk of having to shelve other scheduled projects. “We’re working with the legislature to adjust MinnDOT’s spending authority so we can move forward with I-35 and keep everything else on schedule,” he says. “So far, they have not fully approved the governor’s request in this regard. We have about $80 million in projects, including bridges, hanging in the balance waiting to see if we can get the authority to move forward.”

As the state looks more broadly at its infrastructure demands, McFarlin says that highway and bridge funding is expected to rise to the top of the agenda during budget hearings next year. “The collapse of the [I-35] bridge has certainly heightened the debate,” he says. “It will probably be the top issue when the legislature convenes in February.”

Georgia is among the states focusing on reducing its inventory of ailing bridges. Bill Duvall, assistant state bridge engineer, says upgrading existing bridges has been a focus for the past three years. In that time, the level of structurally deficient bridges in the state has dropped from 8% to under 5%. “We’ve been one of the best states in the country at staying on target with bridge maintenance and inspection,” Duvall says, noting that all bridges are inspected every two years.

But the state’s focus on maintenance leaves limited funds for new needs. The largest bridge job awarded this year was part of the $191-million I-20/I-520 interchange reconstruction project near Augusta. The contract was awarded to Scott Bridge Co., Opelika, Ala., and United Contractors, Great Falls, S.C. No large bridge projects are scheduled to go out to bid next year. “Georgia is facing a $7.7-billion funding shortfall over the next six years,” says a Georgia DOT spokesperson. “We could really use any additional funding sent along by the federal government.”

Coast to Coast

In a September hearing before the New York City Council, NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan touted her department’s efforts to improve its bridges. In 1997, the city had 40 bridges that were rated “poor,” and today only three are rated poor, she told the council. Bridges rated “fair” dropped from 530 to 456 during that time, she said.

California is also among the states dedicating significant funds toward addressing bridge conditions in recent years, particularly in major metropolitan areas. The state’s bridge program is highlighted by a $5.49- billion effort to improve the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Last year, state authorities selected a joint venture of Coraopolis, Pa.-based American Bridge and Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Fluor Enterprises to build the $1.43-billion self-anchored suspension bridge for the new East Span of the Bay Bridge. Work is expected to be completed in 2013.

Congress authorized $250 million for the new I-35W bridge.
Minnesota DOT
Congress authorized $250 million for the new I-35W bridge.

Several other major contracts are being awarded as part of the Bay bridge project. In June, MCM Construction, North Highlands, Calif., was selected to build a $178-million touchdown segment in Oakland for the East Span. Next year, the state will advertise bids for a transition structure that engineers estimate could cost $276 million. Another Oakland touchdown project, estimated at $62 million, is expected to go out to bid in November 2010. A contract for demolition of existing structures will follow in 2012, estimated at $239.2 million.

Outside of the state bridge program, the Doyle Drive Bridge, which provides access to the Golden Gate Bridge, is also scheduled for replacement. The $810-million project will be funded through $405 million of state funds, $100 million of San Francisco Proposition K funds, $71 million of State Transportation Improvement Program funds and $25 million of federal funds.

While the vast majority of bridge projects are geared toward improving existing bridges, some cities are investing in new crossings. The Trinity River Corridor project calls for building three new bridges across the Trinity River between northern and southern Dallas. Williams Brothers, Houston, currently is building the $69.7-million Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, which is the first vehicular bridge in the U.S. designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The signature bridge is highlighted by a 395-ft-tall central parabolic steel arch with cables that fan out to support the 600-ft-long clear span. The bridge will also require $50 million in connections to existing roads. Completion scheduled for August 2009.

Two other bridges, also designed by Calatrava, would replace the existing I-30 and I-35 bridges.

Major cities and metropolitan areas continue to be the benefactors of significant bridge funding. New York City DOT has a $5.8-billion, ten-year capital plan dedicated to bridge improvements. That plan follows nearly $3 billion of bridge work performed since 2000. In the next two years, nearly $2 billion is earmarked to fund several reconstruction projects, including work on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. In August, NYCDOT awarded a $612-million contract for the Willis Avenue Bridge replacement project, which is being built by a joint venture of Omaha, Neb.-based Kiewit Corp. and Cranford, N.J.-based Weeks Marine Inc. FHWA will provide $282 million for that project.