The Ottumwa Courier

November 17, 2012

Wapello Co. bridge receives ‘Award of Excellence’

Structure over Little Cedar Creek first of its kind

MARK NEWMAN
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — You may pass by and not realize what a unique structure we have in Wapello County. But other engineers are impressed at both the technology and teamwork that went into a new bridge.

Supervisor Jerry Parker told engineers gathered in Ottumwa Friday that the public might not be aware that the innovative new bridge at Little Cedar Creek, just past Dahlonega on the four lane, is the first bridge in the United States to combine prepared deck panels joined together by joints of the same material — ultra high-performance concrete — made to measure right there at the job site.

“For one thing,” said Wapello County Engineer Brian Moore, “this material doesn’t absorb water.”

That benefit alone can save taxpayers money year after year, said Parker.

Not only did the structure use new technology, but government and business worked together to make the “demonstration” project a reality.

It was designed by the Iowa Department of Transportation using concrete from Lafarge North America. Coreslab Structures in Omaha, Neb., got a Federal Highway Administration grant to make the deck panels. And the county brought in Bloomfield Bridge and Culvert to build the structure.

The idea was to showcase the use of the  ultra high-performance concrete using a “waffle” form to reduce the amount of concrete needed while maintaining strength. That’s where the other player came into the picture. Iowa State University in Ames conducted what Doug Burns, executive director of the national Portland Cement Association, called “large-scale lab tests.”

Burns delivered an “Award of Excellence” to the team Friday on behalf of his organization and “Roads and Bridges” magazine.

The award was given, in part, because the contest judges decided “by keeping it simple, the bridge designers came up with something handsome and elegant.”

Just as important, they said, designers built something that will last without breaking the bank.