By Liza Moriconi

Category 4 Hurricanes Eta and Iota made landfall in Central America within two weeks of each other, causing severe flooding and damage to the countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Honduras was particularly affected by these hurricanes. The back-to-back storms destroyed agricultural plantations, thousands of homes, and much of the country’s infrastructure. Landslides and flooding caused damage to or completely destroyed many roads and bridges in Honduras. This devastating event motivated international modular bridging specialists, Acrow, to help rebuild what was destroyed.

Acrow provides transportation and construction solutions to countries all over the world. The company specializes in modular steel bridging solutions for permanent, temporary, and emergency use. Because of the bridge infrastructure disaster that occured in Honduras as a result of Hurricanes Eta and Iota, there was a strong need for quick rehabilitation to reconnect the community. Many existing bridges were completely washed away due to the flooding from the back-to-back storms. The foundations of some bridges failed due to the extensive flooding, causing the structures to collapse. Reconstruction in a timely manner was urgently required because of the damage of the critical infrastructure in Honduras. Modular steel bridges provide an ideal solution for reliable, rapid reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure. Acrow President – International Business, Paul Sullivan, gave further insight to the reconstruction of Honduras’s infrastructure.

According to Sullivan, “Acrow’s bridges are built to last.” In 1998, Acrow supplied modular steel bridge solutions to Honduras after Hurricane Mitch, and they are still fully functional, proving their longevity and durability. The modular structures are fully designed in accordance with AASHTO standards, and have a lifespan of more than 100 years. Acrow’s bridges are “configurable for full highway load-carrying capability to support both light and heavy-duty applications.” Because the modular bridges can be manufactured and installed within a matter of days or weeks, this construction method provided the most ideal solution for the damage caused by the hurricanes in Honduras.

Acrow’s bridge components are manufactured in a factory in Milton, Pennsylvania, using premium high-strength U.S. steel from ISO-certified mills. These bridging solutions have been installed in over 150 countries for permanent, temporary, and emergency use. The bridge components are mass produced, which enables a large in-stock inventory, ensuring almost immediate shipment. Once the pre-fabricated steel components are manufactured, they are loaded into shipping containers and transported to various parts of the world by land or sea, according to Sullivan. Once the components have arrived at their destination, on-site technicians verify that the assembly area is correctly prepared. Then, the complete bridge is assembled by hand, or using minimal equipment, rolled into place, and lowered onto its bearings. This quick assembly method allows for local construction services to be used without heavy machinery. For the Honduras bridge project, an Acrow technician directed the construction of the first few bridges, providing training for Invest-Honduras to further the assembly process. Using local resources along with the pre-designed, pre-engineered modular steel components ensures a rapid construction process, making this the most efficient option for Honduras to rebuild after the devastation caused by the hurricanes.

Modular bridging solutions are not only an attractive option for quick construction, but they are also extremely durable, cost-effective, and low maintenance. The steel bridge components are prefabricated and manufactured to meet AASHTO standards, making their design safe and reliable. The speed and ease of construction using modular steel components eliminates long on-site construction processes, decreasing the cost of overall construction. The components are manufactured using high strength steel and fully galvanized to prevent corrosion, minimizing maintenance of the final structure, according to Sullivan. All of these advantages provide a more efficient method of reconstruction than traditional construction, especially in emergency situations.

Acrow has been supplying modular bridging solutions for over 150 countries worldwide for permanent, temporary, and emergency situations, and implemented rapid reconstruction to Honduras’ infrastructure after many of its roads and bridges were destroyed from Hurricanes Eta and Iota back in 2020. A devastating natural disaster like this required immediate solutions to reconnect communities, and Acrow’s modular bridging solutions provided the best method for accelerated bridge construction, providing safe, reliable, and durable infrastructure quickly and efficiently through the delivery of rapid, durable solutions. Not only are the steel components easy to manufacture, ship, and install, they have a service life of over 100 years, so the infrastructure can be made to last. “The modular steel solutions supplied to Honduras will serve to reconnect communities and provide resiliency against the impacts of future climate events for as long as they are required, whether that is for permanent or temporary use,” according to Sullivan. Using modular steel bridge components gave quick relief to the devastation caused in Honduras, enabling communities and families to be reconnected after a tragic event.

Liza Moriconi is an intern for Civil + Structural Engineer Media, as well as a senior Civil Engineering student at the University of Arkansas. She can be reached at