The Montana Dept. of Transportation’s Deep Creek Canyon Weekend Bridges Replacement has received several statewide and regional awards.

Most recently, the project earned an America’s Transportation Award in the category of “Best Use of Innovation, Small” from the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO).

The association chose the project, led by contractor Dick Anderson Construction, Great Falls, Mont., for its “cost-savings, innovation and community focus.” The bridge design was by Morrison­-Maierle Engineers, Helena, and Oldcastle Precast supplied the precast concrete bridge superstructure components.  

The $2.75-million project reconstructed three deteriorating timber bridges built in the 1930s. The new bridges are located in Deep Creek Canyon between Townsend and White Sulphur Springs, Mont.

To replace the three bridges, MDOT and the project team utilized accelerated bridge construction (ABC) methods to significantly fast-track the bridge reconstruction. The ABC process prefabricates as many bridge components as possible. 

The method has proven to minimize traffic disruptions, maintain worker safety and maximize the overall durability of  bridges.

Morrison-Maierle and its partners designed the bridge foundation and the superstructure as a complete, modular concrete system. The ABC system consists of precast concrete bridge superstructure elements and ensures that the bridges could be built during weekend closures.

Had the bridges been built with conventional construction methods, local drivers would have had a two-hour, 120-mile detour around the Big Belt and Bridger mountain ranges for an extended period of time.

Built over three weekends, the single-span, 54-ft-long, 31-ft, 8-in.-wide bridges were constructed in less than 60 hours per bridge.

Dick Anderson Construction contracted Oldcastle Precast to manufacture 15 precast concrete tri-deck bridge girders, six precast concrete grade-beam abutments and 12 precast concrete wing walls at the precast firm’s Spokane, Wash., plant.

Each bridge contains five prestressed concrete tri-deck beams, two precast concrete grade beams, four precast concrete wing walls, plant-cast precast end diaphragms and curbs.

Oldcastle Precast assembled all of the precast concrete components for each bridge at the plant. This allowed each component to be checked for precise fit before shipment.

As a result, this bridge construction project came in under budget, opened ahead of schedule and did not substantially interrupt traffic patterns.

The MDOT bridge project is one of the top 10 project finalists competing for America’s Transportation Awards National Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award.

The America’s Transportation Awards—co-sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—annually recognizes the best of America’s transportation projects in four regional competitions.

The Deep Creek Canyon Weekend Bridges Replacement Project also was awarded the 2015 Project of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American Public Works Association and the 2015 Engineering Excellence Award in the Structural Systems category by the American Council of Engineering Cos. of Montana.

Key Players

  • Contractor: Dick Anderson Construction, Great Falls, Mont.
  • Owner: Montana Dept. of Transportation
  • Bridge Design: Morrison­Maierle Engineers, Helena, Mont.
  • Precast: Oldcastle Precast, Spokane, Wash.