Completed Dodge County, Wis., bridge featuring GRS-IBS abutments and precast box beams.

Brookfield, Wis. — A pair of accelerated bridge construction projects in Dodge County, Wis., has received a 2016 Public Works Project of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA).

R.A. Smith National provided construction services for replacement of Dodge County bridges on County KW and County S, which were at the ends of their useful lives. Dodge County implemented a new technology known as geosynthetic reinforced soil-integrated bridge system (GRS-IBS). This technology was chosen from the Every Day Counts initiative set forth by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). GRS-IBS is an efficient, cost-effective and safe method for constructing bridges. At the time of these bridge replacements, only one other bridge in Wisconsin had been constructed using this technology—and with great success.

This photo captures several unique aspects of the GRS-IBS abutment under construction, including the reinforced soil foundation (RSF), different colored layers of blocks, fabric reinforcement and backfill. The crew is placing steel reinforcement and concrete in the top three layers of the wall per the manufacturer’s specifications. The abutment was approximately 80 percent complete when the above photo was taken.

The main appeal of the new GRS-IBS technology to the traveling public is that projects can be constructed in as little as weeks instead of several months with traditional construction methods. Another advantage of using this technology is cost savings, between 25 to 60 percent less than conventional methods. Saving taxpayer money is the number one goal in using this technology. GRS-IBS bridges also offer durable construction with low maintenance, the potential for lower lifecycle costs and minimized environmental impacts.

CTH KW over Pratt Creek before Construction.

Both new County KW and County S bridges replaced existing bridges that were structurally deficient. Greater clear widths on each bridge will improve safety and reduce the likelihood of crashes, while increased shoulder widths better accommodate bicyclists. Beam guards and railings were updated to improve safety.

R.A. Smith National provided construction administration and inspection, while OMNNI Associates designed the two new bridges and Janke General Contractors constructed the bridges. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Structures provided technical assistance. These projects required the cooperation of many different entities working together to promote new technology and innovation in Wisconsin.

A jury of professionals selected award recipients based on criteria such as: construction management techniques; demonstrated safety during construction; community relations; awareness of the need to protect the environment; unusual accomplishments under adverse conditions; additional conditions like construction innovations or money-saving techniques; and sustainable infrastructure.

The Wisconsin Chapter of the APWA presented the Public Works Project of the Year Award during its spring conference held May 10-12.