Monday, October 21, 2019 - by Mitch Talley, Whitfield County Director of Communications
Recent repairs to a failing bridge on Dover Street in Whitfield County saved taxpayers more than $190,000, thanks to enterprising members of the county’s Public Works department who had to overcome several engineering obstacles in their way to complete the project.
Instead of completely rebuilding the bridge at an estimated cost of $200,000, the county spent just $6,800 to install two new reinforced concrete drainage pipes and a custom-designed headwall and bulkhead wall to extend the life of this crossing.
“What impressed me was the guys’ adaptability to a new process and the great finished product they delivered,” said Steven Bratton, right-of-way manager for Whitfield County Public Works.
“They completed the project faster than expected.”
The repair work, finished in August, included two processes that were new to the crews. They employed a wall-forming process that was new to them and utilized a special tool designed and developed by Daniel Morgan, right-of-way supervisor, to dredge excess sediment from under the existing bridge.
“DeWayne (Hunt, Public Works director) believes this is kind of a hallmark project because of the new wall forming system and an evolution that was a long-term solution, not just a temporary repair,” Mr. Bratton said. “We ended up with a finished product that not only is functional but also aesthetically pleasing as well.”
The bridge was originally a one-lane structure, but widened in the ‘70s to allow tractor-trailer traffic in and out of Dover Street. Back then, Public Works used what they had in the yard. At the time, two 48-inch corrugated metal pipes were hastily butted to the existing bridge.
“Those galvanized metal pipes were considered the pipe to install back in the day, but time has proved that they really weren’t,” Mr. Bratton said. “It’s been shown that they will eventually rust out, sometimes prematurely, depending on the soil conditions.”
In the case of Dover Street, because the pipes were not properly connected to the bridge structure, they eventually failed, causing collapse of a section of the road. Public Works responded quickly by installing emergency guard rails to keep motorists out of danger, but forcing a temporary return to a one-lane bridge.
“We evaluated the existing foundation and superstructure of the bridge and discovered it’s still in good shape – probably got 25 to 30 years left in it,” Mr. Bratton said, “and you always try to get as much life out of something as you safely can.”
The county decided the best long-term solution was to replace only the failed metal-pipe portion of the bridge with two arched pipes that had the same capacity of the replaced pipe, but are lower profile. This allowed for the new pipes to extend under the existing bridge.
“We weren’t just trying to find a quick solution and open up a road now,” he said. “We were trying to find the best solution that would serve us 25 years down the road when we decide to replace the other half of this bridge structure.”
Mr. Bratton emphasized that Public Works is always trying to be good stewards of taxpayer money.
“One solution is to replace a bridge that still has life at a greater expense,” he said, “but on the other hand, while doing the recent repairs with the new process, crews were able to keep one side of the road open for traffic and the work was completed in just a week and a half.”
Mr. Bratton praised all the workers on the construction team, including crew leader Craig Springfield and supervisor Daniel Morgan.
“They are familiar with concrete, and this is the very first time they formed and poured walls, but it didn’t scare them in the least,” he said. “Their willingness to engage in the process and make it work is what really made this project a success.”
“These projects show how adaptive our crews were to a unique engineering problem,” Mr. Hunt said.
The men and their positions and involvement in the Dover Street drainage project are:
- Daniel Morgan, Right-of-Way supervisor, who designed and developed the tool used to dredge under the bridge, and also directed some aspects of the project
- Craig Springfield, Right-of-Way crew leader, who was lead on this project and instrumental in expediting the schedule and adapting to a new wall forming system.
- Josh Ray, Right-of-Way flex crew leader, who assisted in all aspects of the project; installation of temporary guardrail and asphalt.
- Steve McCurdy, truck driver, who did most of the hauling; assisted in pipe install and wall forming.
- Josh Locke, crew member, who assisted in pipe install and wall forming.
- Brian Asherbranner, truck driver, who hauled spoils and selected backfill and also assisted in wall forming, guardrail and asphalt.
- Mike Goss, crew member, who assisted in pipe install and wall forming.