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WisDOT saves time, reduces delay in bridge replacements

News | August 29, 2016 | By:

Work on two aging Dodge County bridges is demonstrating the benefits of the Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil–Integrated Bridge System

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is unveiling replacement work at two Dodge County bridges to showcase a construction technique that simplifies the process and reduces project time.

Championed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for nearly a decade, it is called Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil–Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS).

The bridges in southeast Wisconsin date back nearly to World War II and were falling into disrepair. WisDOT worked with local officials to secure an FHWA grant to replace the structures using GRS–IBS.

“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase a technology that provides an alternative to traditional construction with added benefits,” said James Luebke from WisDOT’s Bureau of Structures. “Providing efficient and cost-effective solutions are core goals at WisDOT, and it’s exciting to be working on a project aimed at doing just that.”

The GRS-IBS construction method was developed by the FHWA using basic earthwork techniques to create a reinforced soil foundation for the abutment and an integrated approach. It’s a similar method to retaining wall constructions, and engineers have spent nearly two decades in testing and evaluation to ensure predictable, reliable and safe performance for transportation. GRS-IBS is considered an ideal solution for smaller, single-span bridges over low-velocity waterways.

The FHWA has described GRS–IBS benefits that include accelerated construction, reduced cost, and flexible design. In terms of maintenance, the simplicity of the structure is expected to reduce the number of problems that can occur among the individual parts of more complex bridge systems.

Work on both Dodge County bridges began in early July and is expected to finish in September. Average daily traffic on each bridge ranges between 500 and 700 vehicles per day. An expected GRS–IBS reduction in construction time, compared to conventional methods, results in a reduction in detours and delays.

Sources: WisDOT
Geosynthetics magazine, search
“GRS” at

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