Our Bridges Need Help!
Here's How GdB Surveyors are Playing an Active Role
What did you think of the last time you drove across a bridge or overpass?
When surveyors drive across one, we notice the details that most people don’t. Things like the roadway transitions, expansion joints, and smoothness of approaches.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives American bridges an overall health grade of a C- on its infrastructure report card. In New York State alone, nearly 10% of the 17,000 bridges are deemed structurally deficient. Combine that with the need for safety enhancements and we have a lot of bridge work to be done.
"I've always enjoyed driving by a job years later and saying, 'that couldn't have been built without my crews' efforts'"
- Steve Slocum, Party Chief with 25 years of construction experience.
Building anything is a complicated effort. There are always “issues” that come up. Bridge construction is no exception. Sites are compact with lots of heavy equipment and staging for materials. There are more hazards too: live traffic, water, heights, and lots of crews. This adds to the pressure of a surveyor to perform their layout with precision in an efficient timeframe. Laying out steel girders, abutments, bearings, and haunches must be done right – the first time.
Great construction surveying is so much more than simple ability. It is about being an active member of the project team. We do that by:
- Being fully vested in the project;
- Taking real interest in the project and its successful realization;
- Providing abundant communication;
- Anticipating and resolving issues;
- Verifying and understanding the plans.
A day on site for Steve is more than just pounding stakes and providing grades. He checks in with the site superintendent and others to see how things are going. This is the opportunity to gain feedback on performance, track plan changes and to see if there are ways for GdB to help.
No matter which surveyor you choose for your bridge project, insist on the following:
Having the correct PPE and safety training is not only important to keeping staff safe, but it is also critical to keeping the overall project on budget and on-time;
Staying in touch before, during, and after being on site brings issues to light and helps with the contractors’ scheduling and completion;
Keeping clients and owners informed and in compliance with clear and concise data makes the effort go more smoothly. “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen;” and
Using the right tool at the right time. Laser scanning can remove surveyors from harm’s way. At other times it takes something tried and true, such as a total station or a plumb bob, to get the job done.
Erie Canal Lift Bridge Rehabilitation (D264615)
Construction on the Erie Canal Lift Bridges in Brockport and Albion, NY are underway! Both vertical lift bridges built between 1911 and 1915 will face rehabilitation to their original structures. With the addition of these two bridges, GdB has now performed work on five bridges along the Erie Canal starting back in 2018. Before demolition begins on the Lift Bridges in Brockport and Albion, GdB field crews recovered and verified the existing contract survey control and benchmarks for the lift bridges. Additional survey control and benchmarks were established for layout and monitoring use throughout the project timeline. Utilizing stationary LiDAR, GdB surveyors will laser scan the critical bridge apparatus including existing abutments, bridge camber, concrete walls, concrete pits, lifting machinery frames, and the upper and lower chords upon disassembly of the bridge. These scans will be used for fabrication of new bridge components and then reassembled onsite. Laser scanning allows the contractor to gain a large amount of valuable data that conventional locations would miss. The scan cloud is an integral part of rehabilitating and reestablishing these historic bridges to their original structural appearance. Stay tuned as GdB provides updates on this historic project.
Rt 31 State Street Bridge over the Erie Canal Bridge (D264306)
To assist with a rehabilitation effort on the State Street Bridge on NYS Route 31 in the Town of Pittsford, NY, GdB was hired to provide laser scanning services and deliver a point cloud throughout multiple phases of the project. Targets were established on site to help monitor the bridges movements throughout the construction process. The State Street Bridge, first built in 1973, needed replacements to the aging steel sections and the entire bridge deck. One of the objectives was to create an existing conditions scan of the bridge capturing the bridge's original position. Targets set at prior to the field work enable surveyors to create the baseline measurements to register the scan and create solid reference points for monitoring. After the bridge deck was removed, GdB surveyors returned and completed a second scan and target check to determine the movement of the bridge unloaded. The use of laser scanning enables our crews to maintain a safe distance at jobsites that would traditionally require time walking the structure. We also produced highly accurate data that helped in the restoration of the bridge, potentially extending the life of the NY Route 31 State Street Bridge another 50 years. By combining the tried and true methods with today's state of the art technology, GdB is always pushing the wheel of progress and developing new ways to capture data and provide our clients with unparalleled service.