State signs $1M contract for emergency bridge repair

The 49-yr-outdated Interstate 25 bridge more than the Rio Grande showed signs of distress, these types of as this harm to a pile cap, prompting the state Office of Transportation to make a short-term repair to maintain the bridge structure from failing. (Courtesy of NMDOT)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

With an ordinary of much more than 35,000 automobiles crossing every day, the Interstate 25 bridge in excess of the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque is dealing with a $1 million emergency.

That’s the approximated selling price tag to handle a “severe public safety” challenge found out by the state Department of Transportation much more than 6 months ago during a bridge inspection of the underbelly of the north- and southbound lanes at the river.

A momentary maintenance some months again shored up the bridge, but no outsized masses are allowed.

“If this area is not handled expeditiously, the bridge could are unsuccessful totally,” states a DOT justification for trying to find a no-bid crisis procurement previous thirty day period.

DOT officials asked for the unexpected emergency invest in since they weren’t in a position to discover a area building firm on the state’s preapproved record that had the time or the workers to do a a lot more long-lasting fix.

“Contractors are so fast paced appropriate now, they really do not have time to schedule urgent repairs. And we can’t just hold out for the contractor to get to it whenever they can,” stated Jill Mosher, assistant district engineer for DOT’s District 3 in the Albuquerque space.

“I am declaring an crisis at the reported place,” wrote District Engineer Justin Gibson in the emergency order ask for for design providers and elements. Injury to the bearings on the bridge construction has produced an “unsafe ailment,” he wrote.

Just one of the weakened pier caps underneath the Interstate 25 bridge around the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque wants an 1 million emergency resolve. (Courtesy of NMDOT)

The seriously applied river crossing “not only serves interstate travel, regional travel, but (also) serves as one of the minimal river crossings in the Albuquerque space for commuters,” Gibson wrote. “This interstate segment also has a high percentage of truck website traffic.”

The site visitors and masses, put together with the age of the structure, triggered destruction in 5 unique piers on the north- and southbound bridges above the river, records clearly show. The bridge was designed in 1973.

The DOT has employed AUI Inc. of Albuquerque on a $1 million deal. AUI was the only contractor that responded to the DOT’s request for repairs, which specific the scope of perform. Two many others, which accomplish DOT restore perform less than a selling price arrangement, possibly experienced complete schedules for 2022 or did not have crews accessible.

Function is not anticipated to start out right up until future month, immediately after which the interstate will be reduced to a single lane every single way at evening, dependent on which facet is currently being repaired.

Mosher mentioned injury to the bridge framework was found out during a regular bi-yearly inspection very last November.

The DOT used a specialized type of crane to look at the spot underneath the bridge.

“Two detailed inspections about a yr aside confirmed major enhance in distress at the pier places,” the DOT request stated. “Similar distress had been found formerly and repaired.”

The destruction appeared to be prompted by brittle concrete that can occur in excess of time and chilly temperatures contracting the bridge girders that locked up the bearings, producing the bridge to turn into rigid and transfer loading to weaker elements.

That led to rapid concern for the “potential failure of many spans of the (northbound and southbound) bridges,” the request mentioned, so maintenance crews quickly mobilized to give temporary shoring.

Mosher explained the bridge can carry only reduced masses, so vehicles with oversized loads will have to discover alternate routes.

Bridge inspectors discovered this weakened pier cap under below the Interstate 25 bridge around the Rio Grande past December. (Courtesy of NMDOT)

Injury to the structures’ pier caps and bearings was equivalent to what occurred at the bridge above the river at Rio Bravo Boulevard, Mosher stated. That bridge experienced an crisis repair far more than two decades back.

“What transpired on Rio Bravo and, now, what is taking place in this article on I-25 is actually taking place on other bridges in the condition, as nicely,” Mosher explained to the Journal.

“In terms of fixes that want to be accomplished (in the Albuquerque space), obviously this is a massive priority mainly because there is elements of the bridge that are in a significant condition, so we’re likely to be patching this up so that we can open the bridge again up to comprehensive support like we did on the Rio Bravo bridge,” Mosher said.

Even then, the Rio Bravo bridge is currently being inspected each individual 3 months, she mentioned, when the DOT operates on design of the bridge alternative. The delay in obtaining that river crossing fully intended is because of to a deficiency of funding, she said.

The $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure monthly bill signed by President Joe Biden past calendar year sets apart about $110 billion for roads, bridges and key infrastructure initiatives. Of that, about $40 billion is for bridge maintenance, substitute and rehabilitation.

But there are restrictions on how substantially can be put in for what reason, Mosher said.

“So, like suitable now, we’ll have the (Rio Bravo) bridge intended, but we do not have the design funding to make it come about,” she stated. “Because, with inflation and what is heading on in the design industry, with charges escalating so significantly, it’s now a $78 million bridge replacement … (instead of) what we thought was going to be perhaps a $50 million bridge substitution.”