Since he was involved in the watershed $1.5-billion design-build widening of Interstate 15 and managed operations for the Utah Dept. of Transportation during the 2000 Olympics shortly thereafter, it is not surprising that Jim McMinimee has Olympian ambitions regarding construction. “We are relentless in our pursuit to deliver our projects faster,” says the UDOT director of project development.

Utah DOT has embraced use of self-propelled transporters.
Photo: Brad Fullmer
Utah DOT has embraced use of self-propelled transporters.

Thanks to a gold-medal team of partners and a philosophy of seizing on transfer technology for accelerated bridge construction (ABC), UDOT has been replacing bridge structures in weekends, not weeks. “The first way was with design-build,” McMinimee notes. “Then we tried other ABC methods like CM-At-Risk.” Then came prefabricated bridge elements and Self-Propelled Modular Transporters (SPMTs). In 2007, Dutch firm Mammoet provided SPMTs for Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Co. Inc., Draper, Utah to lift and roll out two 1.7-million-lb main spans of I-215 and roll in a 3-million-lb new span during a weekend. That was followed by 12 bridge replacements last year. “Our public-opinion surveys showed that 74% out of 500 people gave us a perfect score,” he says. That encouraged UDOT to keep using ABC methods in its bridge-replacement program.

Other states have used SPMTs, but not to the extent that UDOT has. “Jim is a champion of ABC,” says Bill Halsband, vice president of business development for Mammoet U.S., Rosharon, Tex. “He came to several of our projects in other states, went back to Utah and said, ‘This is what we should be doing here.’”

McMinimee, who started as a UDOT intern 24 years ago, praises his agency and the other major players for making ABC possible. “Mammoet’s engineering expertise is gives us great comfort.” He adds: “We have the greatest contractors in the world.”

Jim McMinimee

UDOT’s project development director pushed for unprecedented use of accelerated bridge-construction methods and best-value bids.

— Jim McMinimee

Wadsworth Brothers Construction, Draper, Utah, replaced four bridges along I-80 just east of Salt Lake City in 37 hours over two weekends last August. It opted voluntarily to use SPMTs. “It’s all [McMinimee’s] program,” says Guy Wadsworth, the firm’s president. “At the onset, Jim was...pushing the envelope. Through his research with some others at UDOT, they eventually brought contractors into the fold.”

Four more ABC projects are slated for this summer. “We are trying to move away from traditional methods as much as possible and go totally ABC by 2010,” says McMinimee. He adds that UDOT is collaborating with other states to advance the technology, including for high-seismic areas.