Salt Lake City • More than 200 bridges in Utah were built with the same rapid construction technique used in the Florida bridge that collapsed this week and killed at least six people, officials said Friday.
Carmen Swanwick, chief structural engineer for the Utah Department of Transportation, said the Miami collapse doesn’t sway her confidence in the method or stability of Utah’s bridges, which are inspected once every two years. She said the state will continue to use the technique.
While it is still unclear what caused the Florida bridge to fail, it has cast a spotlight on the method widely used around the U.S. to diminish the amount of time roads and intersections have to be closed.
“I have no concerns,” Swanwick said. “We believe it improves quality. A lot of times, the component or the bridge itself is constructed in a more controlled environment.”
Accelerated bridge construction, or ABC, involves building sections of a span off-site and then moving the massive pieces into place in one step. When a bridge is constructed at the site, it can result in weeks of highway closures, giving ABC the advantage of avoiding traffic interruptions.
Utah started using the technique in 2007, and it has since become the primary way bridges are built, Swanwick said, adding that the state is the nation’s biggest proponent and user of the method, followed by Pennsylvania and Vermont.
Examples include the bridges on Interstate 215 in Salt Lake City at 3300 South and 4500 South.
Swanwick was at Florida International University last year to give trainings on the technique but says she’s not familiar with the bridge that collapsed.