In a $899-million deal to address the state's aging transportation infrastructure, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation signed a contract on Jan. 12 with Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners to replace 558 bridges by the end of 2017.

"Now that we have a contractor in hand, we can go full-steam ahead," says Erin Waters-Trasatt, PennDOT spokeswoman. She says the plan is to replace 58 bridges in 2015 alone, with construction to begin this spring. PennDOT performed much of the advance work on the first batch of spans, including surveying, utility relocation and permitting. "We've been [working] in the background," says Waters-Trasatt. "We're now reviewing the contractor's plans and schedules."

The P3 contract for the rapid-bridge- replacement project was awarded in October 2014 to Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners, which, in turn, has a design-build contract with a joint venture of Walsh Construction and Granite Construction, with HDR as design partner. "On a project this size, you want to have efficiencies and standardizations built in," says Arik Quam, program manager for the Walsh-Granite joint venture. "Our team is beginning to develop the standards for the bridges and road widening. Every little bridge has site-specific things, but on the superstructure, for example, there are elements you only have to design once."

While most of the bridges likely will consist of precast-concrete girders with cast-in-place decks, Quam says some sites will require accelerated-bridge-construction techniques. "There are a few bridges that PennDOT says can be closed for only 75 days, so those will absolutely require the use of ABC and some prefab elements," he says.

"Our plan now is to get the bridges designed and to engage the subcontractor community to build most of them," says Quam. "We're going to need all of the bridge builders in Pennsylvania to deliver these bridges in the next three years."