Necessity has always been the driving force behind innovation. As the Project Manager for the I-95 Piscataqua River Bridge rehabilitation project, I am pleased to share how TYLin’s advanced traffic management solution kept traffic moving throughout construction on the State of Maine’s busiest structure.
The Piscataqua River Bridge serves as a critical transportation artery, facilitating the movement of tens of millions of vehicles each year. The structure is vital to Maine’s economy. However, as the bridge aged, major rehabilitation became imperative, presenting the project team with the daunting challenge of maintaining traffic flow and safety throughout the construction process.
Recognizing that conventional traffic management approaches would not work safely at this site, we embarked on a mission to identify innovative solutions. That is when the concept of the Road Zipper System® emerged – a movable temporary concrete barrier system capable of rapid lane closures multiple times per day. Leveraging this technology, we were able to provide both safety to workers and the traveling public and the necessary time and space for the rehabilitation work.
The project was completed jointly with three clients: Maine Department of Transportation, New Hampshire Department of Transportation, and the Maine Turnpike Authority. Close client collaboration played a pivotal role in our success. We worked closely with the bridge owners to develop a meticulous Maintenance of Traffic (MOT) scheme, fine-tuning lane closures specifically for every day of the year. This comprehensive planning and coordination enabled the project to be completed with minimal disruption to the public while maximizing worker safety.
The combination of the detailed MOT scheme with precise lane closure windows and the mandatory use of the Road Zipper System® was a unique innovation that had never been used in northern New England — and few times elsewhere. It solved the complex problem of rehabilitating this massive structure without negatively impacting traffic or creating a safety risk.
Close collaboration is critical
The partnership between TYLin and the owners was essential to the traffic management scheme's success. We agreed to an innovative approach, public outreach, and communication protocols to activate incident response plans quickly and efficiently, as needed. Our solution catered to the needs of the project and the public.
Think beyond conventional approaches
The introduction of the Road Zipper System®, a previously untested solution in the region, enabled the opening and closing of lanes in as little as 15 minutes. This unorthodox approach, which had rarely been utilized in a work zone maintenance of traffic scheme, proved to be a game changer for the project.
The importance of data-driven decisions
To ensure optimal traffic management, TYLin conducted an extensive evaluation of traffic levels at the bridge site, analyzing data for every hour of every day throughout the year. This data-driven approach allowed us to develop a detailed MOT scheme specifying exactly when and where the contractor could perform the rehabilitation work, allowing the project to progress with little traffic impact.
Don't settle when it comes to safety
The project could have been completed with conventional maintenance of traffic schemes (like using drums for nightly lane closures) but with a much higher risk to the traveling public and construction workers. The project team determined a conventional approach did not offer enough protection and thus was willing to try something new. The innovative movable barrier system maintained a safe construction site throughout the extensive project.
The I-95 Piscataqua River Bridge rehabilitation project demonstrates our ability to employ innovative traffic management solutions to safely maintain uninterrupted traffic flow during construction. It serves as an inspiration for future transportation projects, urging industry professionals to think outside the box and explore new avenues for managing traffic effectively. By adopting innovative approaches, we can minimize the impact of construction on the traveling public while ensuring the safety and reliability of our transportation systems.
Daniel has experience with a wide range of bridge engineering efforts, from culverts, habitat connectivity, and hydraulics to complex steel girder bridges, truss rehabilitations, and massive alternative delivery projects. His expertise in complex structural analysis, design, and detailing is balanced by practical field experience as a construction project resident and inspector. His greatest passion is working with people on local projects that matter to communities.