THE CONCRETE BRIDGE MAGAZINE

SPRING 2015

ASPIRE is a quarterly magazine published by PCI in cooperation with the associations of the National Concrete Bridge Council. The editorial content focuses on the latest technology and key issues in the Concrete Bridge Industry.

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PERSPECTIVE Aesthetic Master Planning More than pretty bridges by Joyce Kelley and Becky Borlan, formerly with Creative Design Resolutions Inc. Communities have realized that their highways and bridges can serve more than just a functional purpose. They also can be landmarks that reflect an area’s history, culture, and aspirations. A primary tool for reaching this goal has been the concept of contextsensitive solutions (CSS), which was developed in the late 1990s by the Federal Highway Administration. But the reality of putting these ideas into practice can be challenging. One of the core tenets of CSS is to create transportation infrastructure that “exercises flexibility and c reativity to shape effective transportation solutions while preserving and enhancing community and natural environments.” To some bridge owners, that sounds expensive. Typically, department of transportation projects set aside 1 to 2% of construction costs for aesthetic enhancement, which leads engineers to fear that CSS aesthetic improvements will cause costs to rise and schedules to lengthen. In fact, incorporating strong aesthetics doesn’t have to set back timetables or exceed the project’s budget. An example of what can be accomplished can be seen in Creative Design Resolutions Inc.’s (CDR’s) creation of an aesthetic master plan for an interchange outside Little Rock, Ark. The project’s engineers were won over by the plan’s treatment of aesthetics as an integral part of the bridge rather than as an addon after the fact that increased load or structurally changed the planned bridge. Aesthetic designs were created that became integral to the bridge’s fabrication process. The design components were diverse: mechanically stabilized earth walls, bridge parapets, slope walls, and massive flyover piers. The CDR team was sensitive to the scale of the project and its budget, creating a plan that maximized aesthetics and limited costs. The designs were approached modularly, like puzzle pieces, so the client needed to invest only in a finite number of formliners that could be reconfigured to produce multiple unique vignettes. The project will be completed in spring 2015. Bridging Differences In some cases, mediation is required between groups having different visions for a project. One example involved a bridge in Oklahoma that was built adjacent to the Cherokee Nation’s land. The city of Catoosa, where the bridge was located, wanted a say in the bridge’s appearance, but the Cherokee Nation had a significant financial investment in the bridge’s construction and also wanted their concepts considered. Oklahoma Department of Transportation, which funded and managed the project, asked CDR to listen to the differing opinions and create a design that would embrace ideas from everyone. That is typically easier said than done.

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