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Modular steel bridge speeds reopening of I-95 southbound lanes in Connecticut

March 31, 2004 From American Institute of Steel Construction, Inc.

A modular steel bridge assembled and erected in three days will get traffic moving again on a critical section of congested Interstate 95 here. Thursday evening, March 25, a fuel truck crashed, spilling home heating oil onto a southbound overpass. The oil soon exploded and burned, causing the collapse of the bridge.

Conn Abnee, Executive Director of the National Steel Bridge Alliance in Chicago, praised the fast action of NSBA member Acrow Corporation (Carlstadt, NJ), which makes the modular steel bridges. “This is a great example of the versatility of steel for stepping into emergency bridge situations of all kinds,” said Abnee.

On Friday morning, the day following the accident, Mark Joosten, vice president of Acrow, visited the crash site and talked with Connecticut officials about the company’s modular steel bridges. Within a few hours he had an order for an 80-foot long three-lane vehicular bridge. The timeline continued as follows:

    • 7 pm, Friday, March 26-Components for 60% of the bridge were on site at
      the accident site.
    • 6 am, Saturday-100% of the new steel bridge components on site
    • 10:30 am, Sunday-Workers finish assembling the 80-ft bridge except for
      the deck.
    • 8:30 pm Monday-Cranes complete lifting the bridge into place onto new abutments.


According to Bill Killeen, president of Acrow, the crews lifted the bridge without the deck to keep the weight down. “The steel deck, which consists of orthotropic steel plates, will take about two hours to put down,” he says. “Then crews will put a standard black asphalt wearing surface on the deck.

Connecticut Governor John G. Rowland and transportation officials predicted that the southbound lanes will be ready for traffic by this Thursday, only a week after the accident occurred.

Killeen notes that these modular bridges are made of high strength grade 65 steel. “The higher strength steel lets us use smaller components to keep the bridges lighter,” he says. “This version of the bridge will carry live loads of 40-ton vehicles going in one direction. A simple rocker bearing handles expansions and contractions caused by temperature variations.”

Acrow is leasing the new I-95 bridge to Connecticut. When the southbound bridge is rebuilt within the year, crews will disassemble the temporary bridge and return the parts to Acrow. Says Killeen, “Later the parts may be assembled into other bridges in increments of our 10-foot modular length. We’ve have supplied these modular bridges up to 300 feet long.”

NSBA’s Conn Abnee notes that the steel bridge industry has stepped in many times in the past to hasten bridge repairs in emergencies. “It’s times like these that we realize just how critical our highway infrastructure is to the general public welfare,” he says.

For more information contact:

Jim Talbot
(215) 351-4250
[email protected]

American Institute of Steel Construction
The American Institute of Steel Construction, headquartered in Chicago, is a not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry. AISC’s mission is to make structural steel the material of choice by being the leader in structural steel-related technical and market-building activities, including: specification and code development, research, education, technical assistance, quality certification, standardization, and market development. AISC has a long tradition of service to the steel construction industry of providing timely and reliable information. 

130 East Randolph St. Suite 2000
Chicago IL 60601
Phone: 312.670.2400
Fax: 312.626.2402
www.aisc.org