Best-in-class bridge engineering team earns top honor for innovative straddle bent design

ALBANY, N.Y. /PRNewswire/ — CHA Consulting, Inc. (CHA) has won the inaugural 2022 National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) Bridge of the Year Award for its innovative design of the straddle bent on the new approach ramp bridge on the Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford, Connecticut. This award follows the Prize Bridge Award in the Medium Span Bridge category, which designated CHA a finalist in the national competition. The CHA team used ingenuity to address a significant design challenge, representing a milestone change in how the industry can build more safe and cost-effective bridges.

“Our team developed a unique solution to a bridge design problem involving the design of the straddle bent using the “Load Path Redundant Member” (LPRM) approach. The benefits of this design are substantial, with improved safety, reduced construction costs, and reduced long-term maintenance costs,” stated Michael “Pete” Culmo, PE, Chief Bridge Engineer for CHA.

Originally constructed in 1940, the Charter Oak Bridge is a major steel bridge crossing the Connecticut River connecting the City of Hartford downtown with the Town of East Hartford. Often referred to as “the congestion buster,” the three-year, $240 million Charter Oak Bridge project combined two major projects that involved three heavily traveled roadways and 22 bridges. The route serves as a major connector between I-91, I-84, and Route 2 in East Hartford.

The centerpiece of the Charter Oak Bridge project was the innovative reconstruction of Exit 29, where I-91 connects to Route 5/15. The configuration of the new ramp required crossing the two roadways at a very flat intersecting angle, which often requires the use of a “fracture critical” straddle bent structure that can span over the lower roadway. CHA’s design converted a typical single-cell box girder section into a triple I-girder member, eliminating the fracture-critical designation and the special long-term inspection requirements. An added benefit is the fabrication costs are up to 50% less than an equivalent box girder section.

“CHA’s exceptional bridge practice has more than 80 bridge engineers developing design solutions for bridges from New England to Georgia to Ohio. This national recognition affirms our position as a best-in-class bridge designer,” said Jim Stephenson, CHA Holdings, Inc. CEO.

The Prize Bridge Awards celebrate successful structural steel bridge projects for creativity, innovation, economics, aesthetics, and teamwork. The award was announced in Denver, Colorado at the 2022 World Steel Bridge Symposium. CHA’s project was selected from three finalists as the winner of the inaugural Bridge of the Year competition. To read about the other finalists, visit aisc.org/pressreleases/press-releases/aiscnsba-names-eight-prize-bridge-winners/.

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