The U.S. has over 600,000 existing bridges, and thousands of new bridges are built every single year. Not all make headlines – there are far more 20-foot overpasses built than there are engineering marvels – but all are critically important for the health of American infrastructure.
The Critical Role of Bridges
Bridges don’t just help people and vehicles move from place to place, although that is their most visible function. Bridges in fact serve as the support structure for millions of miles of utility pipes. Everything from natural gas to fiber optic cable runs through pipelines suspended from and attached to bridges throughout the U.S.
Without bridges, pipelines would need to be buried, sunk, or suspended in the air. Bridges solve the simplest issues of logistics, but they also protect these utilities from threats like weather, animals, and even terroristic tampering. Bridge-attached utilities are far easier to access and maintain than utilities installed underground.
When to Install Bridge-Attached Utilities
The maintenance backlog for America’s existing bridges is in the billions of dollars, so it’s natural that repairing and retrofitting older bridges get the lion’s share of media attention. What outside observers often fail to understand is that (a) a majority of bridges reaching the end of their determined lifespan (usually around 50 years) were designed to do so and that (b) proper planning and maintenance has a dramatic impact on the lifespan of a bridge and its supported utilities.
Here are a few reasons why bridge-attached utilities should be installed by experts in conjunction with the construction of a new bridge, not after-the-fact:
- Holistic design always creates a higher-performing product. When utility pipelines are considered during construction, the entire structure can be designed and built with pipelines, joints, and maintenance access points in mind.
- Integrated design reduces the risk of unforeseen consequences of a new utility installation, such as the weakening of a bridge component or stress on a structural support.
- When designed specifically for a place and time rather than implemented ad-hoc, utility components can be matched specifically to the bridge including its materials and aesthetics.
Aptus installs bridge-attached utilities on new bridges all over America. Our experienced technicians work hand-in-hand with bridge developers to ensure a cohesive strategy. The more forethought given to utilities’ impact on a bridge’s performance (and vice versa), the more successful construction typically is.
Would you like to speak to our team about how to implement bridge utilities into an existing or future bridge design project? It’s our area of expertise. Reach out today to discuss your options or to schedule a call with one of our regional technicians.
When it’s time to consider how utilities figure in to your next bridge project, it’s time to Go Aptus.