Contractors working on a highway project in Georgia have made emergency bridge repairs after they spotted fast-spreading deck damage.
The 135-ft, three-span mainline bridge carries northbound Interstate 85 over a CSX railroad in Jackson County. It was built in 1958 and is one of six bridges scheduled to be replaced as part of the second phase of an I-85 widening project, which is part of the larger Georgia Dept. of Transportation Major Mobility Investment Program to create additional capacity, enhance safety and decrease travel times on important routes across the state.
C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. is the design-build contractor for the $96-million Phase 2 project. Georgia DOT officials say an inspector from engineering firm Atkins noticed the damage and notified the rest of the project team, including DOT. A failure in the edge beam concrete created a patch of spalling on the bridge deck, an agency spokesperson says. The patch, just 1-in. when it was first discovered, quickly grew to a 12-ft-wide damaged area spanning both lanes due to settling.
The bridge was closed for emergency repairs on March 16. The project team worked with DOT and local officials to set up a detour. Crews worked around the clock to repair both the edge beam and the bridge deck, officials say. One lane reopened the next afternoon, and the bridge was fully reopened the morning after that. Officials do not have a cost figure yet for the repairs.
The situation comes amid increased public attention to bridge safety following the collapse of the Fern Hollow bridge in Pittsburgh. In a statement, Butch Welch, DOT’s project manager, praised the contractors for identifying and working to quickly repair the damage.
“We’re grateful to the contractor for their quick, proactive actions to inform the department and get to work repairing the bridge,” Welch said.
Georgia DOT says the project team anticipates having traffic onto the new bridge by early July.
The Phase 2 project will widen about 6.7 mi of I-85 from two lanes to three in both directions, widen the median, replace six mainline bridges and one overpass and replace guardrail with the goal of reducing congestion. DOT expects substantial completion in 2023.