As traffic in our nation continues to increase, so does travel on some of the most sensitive infrastructures we have, bridges. In fact, a recent study taken from Texas shows that the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state has risen since 2017, which is alarming. While somewhat down from a year ago, these deficient structures are a hazard to motorists and could potentially fail at any time. In any given year, the number of bridge collapses across the nation ranges from 87 to 222. So, this means that there is a lot of work to be done in order to bring the level of bridge inefficiencies down from their current levels. Not surprisingly, the overall number is estimated to consist of around 40 years worth of ongoing repair to correct the bridges in need of work. Another sobering statistic shows that of the over 220,000 bridges in need of repair, 79,500 of them will need to be replaced entirely, meaning more traffic delays and unsafe conditions for our nation’s drivers. An additional problem is that the costs of these repairs and rebuilds are incredibly high and only rising as materials and labor shortages have only exacerbated an already bleak outlook for our nation’s infrastructure. In short, seeing any real relief from bridge repair or reconstruction could be decades away and delays will unfortunately continue. For better context, the more than 6,100 miles of total span of deficient bridges would stretch from Maine to LA and back again and not to mention the estimated $58 billion worth of repairs that would cause incredible financial strain on the Federal and State governments. Our bridges face a long road to recovery and time is not on the side of our nation’s motorists…
However, despite these statistics, the largest challenge to bridge repair though isn’t the work or time itself, but rather how to make the repair environment safer for the crews completing that work. This is due in part to the dynamic nature of the work environment. Wet conditions make for difficult worker egress to and from base support structures and drive up concrete and other material dry times causing unnecessary delays and added expense. In addition, OSHA has strict regulations on the safety of workers during such projects and monitors work sites for the implementation of these safety measures to ensure that they are adhered to. With the average bridge repair taking several weeks to years in some cases, any shortcut to project completion is welcome to keep road uptime to a maximum. In the past, water diversion techniques involved large numbers of sandbags, crew count, and weeks for a dry worksite prior to any bridge repair work beginning. Also, the efficiency of traditional sandbagging methods required consistent maintenance to ensure that workers could get to and remain on the job site safely. Given the above, there is a real challenge with traditional dewatering methods for bridge repair and construction job sites that have to take into account worker uptime and the costs involved.
The guidelines only serve to substantiate that the biggest risks that bridge construction and repair workers face are falls, vehicle strikes, and electrical hazards, and while falls and vehicle traffic can be mitigated to a degree, electrical dangers are a very real threat. Once you add in the dangers posed by a hydrologic environment coupled with electrical lines, generators, tools, and the like, it is crucial that ground conditions be dry and free from the threat of any encroaching moisture. This is further evidence of how inefficient traditional dewatering methods are at maintaining worker safety and job site readiness over the course of weeks or months in a typical bridge construction or repair project. A recent accident from this year tells the story of how dynamic a bridge repair or construction project can be even in the most ideal conditions and how a proper dewatering system in place might have saved a life. Unfortunately, these risks are inherently a fact of each bridge construction and repair project where mitigation of injury and death is always the primary concern of the project manager(s). While not perfect yet, these projects are getting safer though and when properly placed, cofferdams provide for excellent work site readiness and general worker safety.
Over the past 25+ years, a new and more efficient dewatering method came on the market pioneered by Aqua-Barrier®, the original water-filled cofferdam. Now, bridge repair and construction worksites could be made safe and dry in hours, not weeks, speeding work schedules and lowering costs in both man-hours and equipment. This meant that the national issue of failing bridge infrastructure could begin to be remedied much faster and safer than ever before. Not to mention that the Aqua-Barrier® gives project managers the ability to select from different working heights as well as the layout of the barriers providing the maximum level of water diversion and worker safety. Available worldwide through a network of distributors, the Aqua-Barrier® is the first step for any bridge repair or construction project where water needs to be diverted and safety comes first. No matter if purchased or rented, the original water-inflated cofferdam will provide years of excellent service in all hydrologic construction environments making it a cost-effective resource for your business.
Our friendly sales staff are ready to help you get ahead and stay ahead of your upcoming bridge construction or repair project while saving your project money and time. Our client portfolio includes city and state entities as well as private construction firms, so we have the experience needed to deliver our Aqua-Barrier® products wherever they are needed. If you’re not sure of exactly what you need, we’ll also go over your project specs and help you come up with an effective and cost efficient solution that will ensure your worksite is dry and safe in less time than any traditional dewatering method. Please feel free to visit us at our Waller, TX location or give us a call at (800) 245-0199 and let us show you why we’re the first choice for any dewatering project you’ve got!