Rehabilitation of the Wood River Bridge was one of the first design-build (D/B) projects completed as part of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s (RIDOT) Statewide RhodeWorks Infrastructure Improvement Program. Consistent with the Program’s goal to “keep people safe and make Rhode Island a more attractive place for businesses to invest,” the rehabilitation fully restored a critical highway interstate bridge, improving the structural integrity to meet the latest American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials load rating sufficiency—one of the project’s primary drivers.
Recently recognized by ACEC-RI with a Gold Engineering Excellence Award, some of the project achievements included a rigorous 3D finite element analysis load model and testing to justify elimination of FRP beam strengthening, and an environmentally sensitive approach to replace the bridge bearings. The alternative bearings replacement approach eliminated in-river construction work, minimizing impacts to the Wood River—a designated Special Resource Protection Water for recreation, critical habitat, and wild and scenic areas. The project also satisfied RIDOT’s then-new Linear Stormwater Manual, designing a new sediment forebay and sand filter in full compliance with the new standards.
As the Lead Designer, VHB was responsible for bridge, traffic, roadway, and drainage design, and environmental permitting. Leveraging the benefits of the D/B delivery method, close collaboration between VHB and Lead Contractor, Aetna Bridge Company, resulted in solutions that expedited the construction phase and reduced project costs by eliminating unnecessary improvements.