Wadsworth Brothers Construction, along with the Utah Department of Transportation, successfully slid a 1-million-lb. bridge deck in one night in Cedar City with the help of Dawn dish soap.
(Photo courtesy of UDOT.)
Crews from Wadsworth Bros. Construction Company used some innovation to execute a bridge slide in Cedar City, Utah.
Working with the Utah Department of Transportation, the Draper-based general contractor managed to slide a 1.1-million-lbs. bridge on I-15 in Cedar City over East Nichols Canyon Road in July.
A 3-mi. portion of I-15 was closed to southbound traffic overnight for approximately nine hours. It took a lot of hard work, ingenuity and a little bit of Dawn dish soap to get the slide completed and I-15 reopened to traffic by 6:00 a.m. the next morning.
The bridge slid into place using hydraulic jacks attached to bolt devices placed underneath the bridge. Due to its slippery coating and ability to adhere, Dawn dish soap was used to cover the sliding devices — Teflon pads — placed between bridge and span abutments.
The bridge's concrete was made with fibers to give it extra binding strength to extend the life of the structure.
The bridge deck weighed 1,150,156 lbs., including 234,034 lbs. of coated reinforcing bar (rebar) and 1,534 cu. yds. of several types of concrete.
"This bridge slide was a unique project because the bridge has actually been used as both the northbound and southbound bridge in the last year," UDOT said in a press release. "As part of a bridge replacement project over East Nichols Canyon Road, crews built a center bridge in between the northbound and southbound I-15 bridges. Initially, northbound traffic was shifted onto the center bridge while crews demolished and rebuilt the northbound bridge. Then southbound traffic was moved onto the center bridge while crews demolished the southbound bridge and rebuilt the support structure to hold a new bridge deck. On [a Wednesday night], the center bridge deck was released, expertly moved and connected to the new southbound structure in time for morning traffic on Thursday."
UDOT engineer Tyrell Wood described the bridge as deteriorating with potholes and cracking girders underneath.
"They weren't falling apart yet, but they were headed there," Wood said, noting "the bridge deck was in pretty sad shape."
Wanting keep costs down and minimizing traffic delays, UDOT constructed a sliding bridge concept.
"We wanted to maintain travel on I-15 to keep two lanes open to traffic because I-15 is very dependent on commercial traffic and regular residential traffic through southern Utah," Wood said in an interview with Transit Topics. "We really had to put our brains to the test to make this one work since it was pretty technical," Wood said. "We did it [the slide] in 2½ hours. It was supposed to take about six."
"From a UDOT perspective, we're always looking for innovative ways to minimize inconvenience and cut down on delays. It's not innovation for the sake of innovation," UDOT's Mike Gleason said in an interview with Transit Topics. "It's really something that makes a difference to people in their lives. Nobody wants to be stuck out on the freeway or trying to navigate major congestion. If we can alleviate some of that by using innovative construction means, then that's something we're interested in to help all of our road users."
Several students and their professors from the Southern Utah University Engineering and the construction management program were invited to observe the slide on site.
The next phase of the project will focus on improvements to East Nichols Canyon Road. The road is expected to be open mid-August and the project fully completed by mid-September.
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