Bridges are some of the most complex pieces of infrastructure on the planet. From suspension spans to flat-pack elevations, technological advancements have changed the scope of bridge construction drastically over the past several decades.
Aptus keeps our fingers on the pulse of bridgework because innovations in the bridge space are inherently related to what we do best. Our bridge-attached utility projects ultimately function as an extension of the bridges they’re supported by.
Here are three exciting developments in the bridge building industry we’re keeping a close eye on.
Accelerated Bridge Construction
The shift toward ABC construction constitutes the largest sweeping change within the bridgebuilding industry in decades. Also known as ABC bridgebuilding, this process is designed to improve site construction, reduce build time, and increase work-zone safety. The discipline as a whole utilizes a streamlined project planning process and advanced geotechnical solutions, but most notably uses prefabricated elements and systems for the bridge structure itself. Proponents of Accelerated Bridge Construction say the process reduces social and environmental impacts, improves safety and durability, and lowers the long-term costs of constructing and maintaining bridges.
3D Printed Bridges
Custom-designed 3D printed bridges are the newest – and most visually arresting – technology in the industry. Several new international projects, most notably one in Amsterdam, are showing off previously unseen capabilities of 3D printers. For the Amsterdam bridge, axis-attached robots were used to print a 40-foot pedestrian bridge out of molten steel…in the air. The development is particularly noteworthy as proof of the mobile 3D printing concept that proposes bridges could one day be printed on-site without prefabrication elsewhere. The first of its kind, the Amsterdam bridge will be monitored closely after its installation, the data used to further inform the science of metal bridge materials.
Floating Suspension Bridges
Norwegian builders are pushing the limits of overwater spans further than ever imagined possible. The 3-mile long Bjørnafjord bridge, currently under construction, will actually stand on floating pontoons tethered to the seabed below. The tops of the bridge will be harnessed together to add stability. This is a technique has been used successfully before, but never for multi-span suspension bridges and certainly never over water that’s more than 550 meters deep. The bridge will utilize “optical remote wind sensing” and real-time air flow modeling to ensure its security and stability in Norway’s notoriously harsh weather conditions.
Bridge construction is inherently complex but it’s also undeniably important. As people – and utilities – move more readily than at any point in history, bridge technology must change to keep up.
Aptus is a leader in bridge-attached piping installation, maintenance, and repair. Our teams work with bridgebuilders around the U.S. to innovate and improve existing utility piping as well as integrate new piping projects into bridge design.