Building Blocks to a Better Infrastructure in America

Fri May 26, 2017 - National Edition

Interlocking blocks are assembled to create tunnels and archways without mortar.
Interlocking blocks are assembled to create tunnels and archways without mortar.

With the recent infrastructure issues and an upsetting D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the need for innovative solutions to resolve our nation's bridge, tunnel and road issues is greater than ever.

Ideas such as BioConcrete and Recycled Roads are being introduced to the European market already but what about North America? The answer to that could be based on something as easy as the construction blocks most children play with.

For 25 years the Canadian company Lock-Block Ltd. has been producing pre-cast interlocking blocks. These blocks were initially created for retaining wall systems but another product called the Arch-Lock can be used to created overpasses and tunnels.

By utilizing 3D-printed models, the company can create custom designs to fit any need. The interlocking system and pre-cast concrete voussoirs achieve a level of geometric fit that eliminates the need for mortar according to the company's website.

A special zipper truck is used to install the bricks in a quick succession (check below for the video). With no mortar and the zip truck, the company says it can reduce construction time by 90%.

Other noteworthy points include:

• Quick assembly

• Can be dismantled and reassembled

• Seismic resistant

• Immense load carrying ability

If the U.S. wishes to get out of its infrastructure slump, something as simple as trying out new approaches and embracing innovation should not be ignored. Someday, interlocking overpasses comprised of self-healing concrete could be the norm.—CEG blogger