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Final inspection: GRS–IBS bridge in place in 80 hours

Final Inspection | June 1, 2018 | By:

The new GRS–IBS McCormick Quarry Bridge is moved into place. Photograph courtesy of RIDOT

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) began work on the McCormick Quarry Bridge over Warren Avenue in East Providence on Sept. 23, 2016, using a geosynthetic reinforced soil–integrated bridge system (GRS–IBS). According to the Federal Highway Administration and RIDOT, the technique allowed crews to cut the closure time for the bridge from one year to 80 hours.

Then Vice President Joe Biden visited the McCormick Quarry Bridge when he went to Rhode Island in May 2016 to learn more about the state’s RhodeWorks infrastructure program. At that time, Biden called the stacked-timber shoring “Lincoln Logs.” The shoring was installed to support the bridge’s structural load due to its severe concrete deterioration.

“When Vice President Biden visited Rhode Island, he was shocked at the condition of this bridge and the ‘Lincoln Logs’ necessary to hold it up,” Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said. “Thanks to RhodeWorks, [we replaced this deficient bridge and removed] a symbol of past inefficiencies in fixing our roads and bridges.”

The bridge replacement is part of a two-bridge project that will cost $16.7 million, including a $663,000 budget contingency. The McCormick Quarry Bridge was built in 1959 and had been structurally deficient for more than 20 years. It carries 17,000 vehicles per day.

During the closure, RIDOT demolished the existing McCormick Quarry Bridge and completed work on the foundations for the new bridge. Then workers installed the entire bridge’s superstructure (steel beams and concrete deck), which was built in temporary staging areas on top of large supports adjacent to the old bridge’s location.

Once the bridge foundational elements were ready, RIDOT used large multi-wheel dollies to lift the new bridge off its supports, drive it down the street the bridge spans, move it into position and lower it onto the new foundations. Finishing work to complete the riding surface between the bridge and the road segments on either side came next. RIDOT closed the bridge at 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016; completed the entire operation; and reopened the bridge before 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016.

“This rapid bridge construction approach lets us complete the job of replacing these deficient and obsolete structures as quickly as possible with as little impact as possible to the traveling public,” RIDOT director Peter Alviti Jr. said.

RIDOT released a time-lapse video of the project, which can be viewed at

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