If you have ever built a house in modern times, you know they don’t build it board-by-board. The parts of the house arrives in pieces, essentially puzzle pieces. Sections are already put together and ready to be raised. Pieces are even numbered so the contracted construction workers take a piece, attach it to the foundation, then grab the next piece and repeat until all the sections are up and ready for the roof. The roof also comes in pre-fab pieces.
There are portions which the construction crew puts together on site. They reinforce the window frames and build the door frames. In some places, they’ll also add extra reinforcements or to bring warped pieces back into alignment.
As I have driven across the country many times, I’ve gotten caught up in a lot of road construction projects. When driving the same highway the next year, often the projects haven’t been finished. It seems as if the bridges take the longest to construct.
The past few months, while driving to see my mom, I began to have a wondering while stuck in construction traffic. My wondering was, if they can pre-fab and deliver house pieces, why can’t they do the same thing for bridges.
The pieces would have to be smaller sections due to the weight of the pieces. But, many heavy materials are delivered via trucks, so that doesn’t seem it would be much of a hindrance.
The footers and supports, of course, would need to be done on-site. There is just no way around it. That doesn’t mean the surface pieces couldn’t arrive in sections, which could then be lifted into place by crane.
It would still take a little while to finish a bridge without a doubt. However, with the surface arriving all at once to be placed, replacement of most of the bridges being replaced across streams, rivers, railroad tracks, and highways, we could get traffic back to flowing better more quickly.
By getting traffic back to normal sooner, the environment would also suffer less. Cars stopping and going, for long periods of time, isn’t good for the ozone layer and wastes a lot of gas.
If we could bring bridge building, and maybe other areas of road construction, into a more modern era, our stress levels will decrease and our cars would pollute less. Sounds like a win-win situation.
Does anyone know why we don’t prefab certain bridges yet? Inquiring minds want to know.