- Accelerated construction replaces bridges in a fraction of the typical time
- Adding capacity improves roadway safety and efficiency
- Collaborating with top-tier UConn research engineers ensures cutting edge technology
These are just a few ways in which Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is advancing a program of progressive practices. In CT2030, the agency is making timely investments, doing the right treatment at the right time. This results in an improved transportation network and lower long-term costs.
Connecticut’s roadways and bridges are aging. They were designed during a bygone era, and no one in the 1950’s and 1960’s designing these roads ever considered the huge number of cars using the state’s highways every day.
A 21st Century transportation system is essential for Connecticut to be competitive, attracting the best people, businesses, and ideas. Maintaining and updating 3,719 miles of roads and 4,016 bridges requires a new way of thinking. CT2030 provides that new vision for how the state executes on providing a new infrastructure investment strategy for the state.
Ahead of the Curve
When construction is underway, drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists must navigate a modified roadway. These changes to traffic patterns can increase crashes, injuries, and fatalities. Incidents impact workers, too. Between 2016 and 2017, fatal crashes in work zones increased by 3 percent nationwide. Implementing alternative construction processes that minimize work zone impacts keeps people and roadways safe.
Expediting project delivery in CT2030 puts CTDOT ahead of the curve. Consider accelerated bridge construction (ABC), which uses innovative planning, design, and construction techniques to reduce project completion time. ABC improves the safety of workers. The shortened duration means that travelers, residents, and businesses are minimally impacted as bridges are built off-site and slid into place. Short-term projects are also cheaper to build. CTDOT is successfully implementing accelerated bridge construction and has a backlog of future projects state-wide.
If you think that sitting in traffic is a nuisance, consider the impact to the economy: nationwide, congestion causes 4 billion hours per year in delay. In CT2030, CTDOT’s creative approaches help Connecticut – and our region – maintain a high-performing economy, efficiently moving people and goods.
Every day, new tools are developed to streamline the construction process for roads and bridges, and to monitor condition over time. CTDOT is using these tools to advance projects and inspect existing facilities:
- 3D/4D Modeling: These models provide more accurate design, identify potential construction issues early (when they are cheaper to correct), and visualize how a project will look after it is constructed.
- E-Construction: By digitizing records and getting information from the office onto tablets in the field, workers can complete tasks in minutes instead of days.
- Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Program – AKA “drones”: Drones are assisting the department in getting good traffic data, understanding the visual perspective of a project site, documenting conditions, and providing access to hard to reach locations.
By using emerging technologies and alternative design practices, CTDOT is replacing the outdated with new infrastructure that lasts longer and requires less maintenance. Bridge construction projects that incorporate Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil – Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS) techniques and ultra high-performance concrete being tested at UConn are exciting developments.
New federal rules have allowed transportation agencies to expand approaches to delivering projects to the public. Where possible, CTDOT has engaged contractors in coming up with design and construction solutions to both reduce costs and increase efficiency. By sharing the risks and rewards, design-build projects, such as Route 8 bridge replacements in Bridgeport and improvement of four bridges in East Hartford and Willington, are completed and open to the public on an expedited schedule within budget.
CTDOT is committed to engaging the public. Through community outreach events, project websites, social media, and partnerships, the agency strives for proactive relationships. It is essential to communicate before, during, and after bridge and roadway construction to ensure a smooth process. CTDOT is accountable to the people and places that make our 169 towns unique – the traveling public, residents, special interest groups, businesses, transit providers, government agencies, and schools, to name a few. CT2030 will also command that all projects provide signage to the public clearly stating the start of the project, the end of the project, and the progress of the project. Connecticut residents deserve to, and will be engaged and informed of every project contained in CT2030.
2019 Project Highlights
It’s not every day that a high profile, urban viaduct project is completed quickly and gracefully. Opening one year ahead of schedule, the I-84 Waterbury Widening addressed the heavy congestion of a 2.7-mile stretch that bogged down economic productivity associated with 125,000 vehicles daily. Not only did this effort improve I-84 capacity in Waterbury, it lessens congestion on local streets, eliminates dangerous design features, and reduces accident rates. Improving traffic flow means better air quality, noise, aesthetics, and quality of life for the community and daily travelers. Per road-sensor analysis, rush-hour speeds increased from 16 miles per hour to 62 mph eastbound and 7 mph to 67 mph westbound. Travel times dropped a notable 13 minutes to 3 minutes eastbound and 30 minutes to 3 minutes westbound. The average monthly accident rate fell from 38 to three. The I-84 Waterbury Widening is a finalist for the coveted 2019 Northeastern division of American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) large project award.
The graphic illustrates the decreased travel time as a result of the Waterbury Widening project.
When the replacement of the Elm Street (Route 160) bridge over I-91 came due, the CTDOT design team evaluated the project site for ABC. Meeting a series of criteria, the team advocated for ABC. What would’ve taken several years to complete using conventional methods, CTDOT and contractors completed in 60 days. I-91 was closed for a total of 11 hours, causing minimal travel disruption. The original bridges were demolished, the site was prepared, and the new structures were constructed on a nearby right-of-way. Then the team transported and fitted the new bridges using a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT). Construction activities continued another several weeks. The local roadway reopened, with the addition of a pedestrian sidewalk, to accommodate the bustle of the new school year.
How do you replace a rail bridge built in 1896 while keeping Connecticut’s busiest corridor running? In July, a new bridge over Atlantic Street in Stamford was installed without interrupting service on the Metro-North New Haven Line and the Amtrak Northeast Corridor. Over 300 trains pass over the bridge daily. The old single-span bridge was demolished to make way for a wider 2-span bridge. Six bridge segments were constructed off-site and then transported and installed over a 9-day period. Train traffic was maintained on two tracks for the entire duration of this complex construction, keeping Connecticut’s commuters happy and economy intact.
When a 2-span, 5-lane bridge over I-95 in Stamford needed replacement, CTDOT selected a construction approach that would minimize disruption to the highway’s 170,000 daily travelers and Route 1’s 17,000 motorists. New bridge spans were built on land within the northbound on- and off-ramps, then moved onto the bridge abutments. I-95 was closed for two weekends while the old bridge was demolished, and the 1.8 million-pound spans were moved into place using SPMTs. I-95 and Route 1 opened to traffic at the end of each weekend. The entire construction process for this project has been captured on time-lapse video.
This ABC project rapidly replaced the deck for a 2-span bridge carrying I-395 over Route 85 in Waterford. First, the deteriorated deck of the northbound bridge was demolished, and new precast deck panels and ultra high-performance concrete was installed on top of the existing abutments. With I-395 closed to traffic, this work was completed in less than a week. The following week, the southbound bridge deck was replaced using the same construction method with the same results – and CTDOT opened the bridge ahead of schedule.