Agência para o Investimento e Comércio Externo de Portugal


A traditional bridge construction process involves significant challenges pertaining to economic losses for indigenous businesses, disruption of emergency and utility services, and increased traffic snarls.

Most of the bridge designs, especially the complex ones, are initially designed using Building Information Modelling (BIM) to get a better picture of the asset to be built. In horizontal construction, BIM remains a relatively under-utilized method. BIM can dramatically increase sustainability, improve efficiencies, and reduce waste over any infrastructure project lifecycle. However, issues arise when the client has a specific requirement of a faster project delivery method, ensuring reduced mobility disruption and economic impact.


When compared with the traditional approach, the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) method proves to be an appropriate choice for reinstating the structural strength in bridges. The decisions related to agency cost, construction cost, and user cost are of pressing concerns to the decision-makers in adopting the methodology to go ahead with the repair and rehabilitation works. This calls for a quick project delivery tool/platform which enables the decision-maker to look for all the possible factors affecting the bridge construction and delivery process.


ABC is an initiative to expedite the bridge construction process through pioneering planning, design, and construction methods while reducing environmental impacts and construction mobility. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), while adopting the ABC approach, can shorten the planning and build phases of bridge construction from years to a mere 48 to 72 hours.


Necessity is the mother of all inventions

Highway networks with subsequent bridge structures are almost covering the length and breadth of both developed and developing countries, and also nearing maturity phases in developed regions. The bridge reconstruction and replacement process is crucial in any transport network’s repair work while the design majorly involves accommodating the existing vehicular traffic on that stretch. The construction activities associated with a bridge construction process entail varied challenges on a project site. Issues pertaining to geology, geography, traffic intensity, or environment can be resolved by using geospatial and ICT technologies. Using non-destructive testing (NDT) through ground-penetrating radar (GPR) can be used for bridge-deck condition assessment. In the survey phases, GPR can determine the steel rebars and develop the corrosion map while also gauging the concrete slab and asphalt layer thickness. Incorporating spatial data in bridge repair and rehabilitation works relates well with BIM, while also providing detailed 3D models of the structure. Spatial analysis of the structure can be conducted at a finer scale on integrating BIM with a Geographical Information System (GIS). Even during the build phase through the ABC approach, the vehicular traffic can be eased, and congestion reduced with the use of BIM and GIS modeling by studying the traffic patterns.


To reduce the complexities surrounding the assembly and construction phases, innovative solutions are introduced worldwide. For instance, BERD, a Portuguese company, engineered a solution to lessen the bridge assembly and launch time by up to 70%, which conventionally would have taken weeks to complete. This was achieved by developing a superfast launching system for the assembly and launch process, without losing resiliency and constructability.


There has always been a larger emphasis given to increasingly delivering faster results in a lesser timeframe, ensuring quality, and adhering to the core functionality of any given asset. The accelerated bridge construction process/technology has proven to be a cost-efficient technique for faster project delivery. The Integration of BIM and GIS with such approaches proves to benefit the stakeholders in delivering the asset more quickly and efficiently.