Steel Shots: Rollin’ on the River

Photo courtesy of NCDOT

The new eastbound bascule span of the Pasquotank River Bridge in Elizabeth City, N.C., is open to the public. The 144-ft span culminates over four years of design and construction work on the bridge, which included demolition of the the original 1931 structure. The bridge carries US 158 automotive, bicycle and pedestrian traffic over the Pasquotank River.

Both of the bridge’s 1-million-lb bascule leafs contain about 450,000 lbs of AASHTO M270 Grade 50 structural steel. Prospect Steel in Little Rock, Ark. (an AISC/NSBA Member and AISC Certified fabricator) was the steel fabricator for the project.

Bridge engineering firm Modjeski and Masters provided the structural, mechanical, and electrical design for the bridge replacement: “The most challenging aspects of the design process were balancing loads on an asymmetrical span while reducing the overall weight of the structure,” said Kevin Johns, director of the movable bridge unit at Modjeski and Masters. “As a bascule span is constantly in motion, it’s important to reduce structural weight where possible. Our team did so by using lightweight concrete in the grid deck and sidewalks. Additionally, dense Styrofoam was used in the design to lighten half of the counterweight section and create precise balance for the bridge. Another noteworthy aspect of the project was our persistent focus on enhancing maintainability by developing a design which provides ease of access to all components that require routine or periodic maintenance.”

The new bridge is part of the North Carolina State Transportation Improvement program that will replace 838 bridges across the state. This project is expected to stimulate economic integration between neighboring Camden, Pasquotank and Perquimans Counties and smooth automotive traffic flow through Elizabeth City, which is considered the heart of the region. It will also make it easier for boat traffic to navigate the Pasquotank River.

A photo gallery of last month’s opening ceremony can be found here.

Modjeski and Masters is also involved with rehabilitating the westbound span. Construction on its redecking, new electrical system, structural repairs, and the replacement of some of its machinery is expected to finish before the end of the year.