KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
SHAFTSBURY -- If a certain bridge building technique becomes more popular across New England and New York, commuters could see less inconvenience while a local company may see some growth.
Vice President of William E. Dailey Precast Brian Lent, said his company has provided precast concrete sections for a bridge being built in Brewster, N.Y., along I-84. The technique being used to build it is not new to the industry, but is new to Dailey, and New England states have been warming up to it in recent years for a variety of reasons.
Jared Steller, quality control manager for Dailey, said in an interview Wednesday that precast concrete forms are often used in "Accelerated Bridge Construction" projects. Normally when a bridge is replaced lanes get closed, traffic is detoured and slowed, or temporary bridges are constructed. The disruption can last months or as long as a year in some cases.
For the bridge project in Brewster, the concrete forms made by Dailey are being assembled next to the bridge lanes slated for replacement. They sit on specially designed rails and when they are ready, the bridge will be closed for a day, demolished, then the new bridge slid into place, said Steller.
Lee Edwards, project manager for Dailey, said the technique drastically cuts down on the time commuters are inconvenienced. It makes the projects shorter in general where rights of way, town road closures, and temporary bridges would be needed.
It also allows workers to do their jobs in a safer environment, said Steller.
"I think it's the wave of the future when it comes to bridge construction," said Eric Schaffrick, general manager for Dailey.
The bridge in Brewster was put out to bid by the New York State Department of Transportation. Yonkers Contracting, of Yonkers, N.Y., won the bid and Dailey was among the companies it hired. Edwards said the concrete forms, some 87 feet long, weigh as much as 145,000 pounds and were all formed in Shaftsbury, off Airport Road. The company has a 500-foot-long building where workers can make one of the 87-foot segments in as little as a day.
Steller said the bridge has to meet all of the standard safety codes, and because it will be slid over rails the forms must be stronger than they normally would.
Schaffrick said the technique does not lower direct costs, but states are putting a value on the disruption to traffic. He said the company had to learn some new techniques to make the sliding method work, and many states, Vermont included, are eyeing the Brewster project to see how it goes.
"We are in a position to become one of the experts when it comes to precast bridges," said Schaffrick. He said they have no projected and numbers when it comes to possible expansion, but he feels Dailey is in a good place.
Kristin Higgins, project manager for the Vermont Agency of Transportation's Accelerated Bridge Construction Program, said the state does plan to use various ABC techniques in places where it makes sense. She said the cost is higher but when the traffic flow is high the less things are slowed down, the better. Her program former in 2012 and looks at the state's various bridge projects to determine which ones could benefit from ABC and what specific techniques can be used. Many, she said, do involve precast material. The bridgework planned for I-91 near Exit 11 in White River will use an ABC approach, she said, as the normal way would mean lane closures near exit ramps, which can be complex and dangerous.
Dailey currently employs 140 people, all but 20 of whom work in the precasting side of the business. The other portion focuses on road material. It has been in business for several decades, and in 2005 was bought by Peckham Industries in White Plains, N.Y.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.