Construction starts on final bridge in Pennsylvania’s milestone P3 replacement program


A unique multi-year infrastructure program in Pennsylvania is nearing completion, with construction work starting on the 558th and final bridge in the state’s Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.

Pennsylvania’s population of state-owned bridges is among the largest and oldest in the USA. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has prioritized transportation investments to repair and replace structurally deficient bridges, and the US$889m Rapid Bridge Replacement (RBR) Project has been a key component in that effort. Challenged with an aging bridge inventory, the RBR Project began construction in 2015 and has enabled PennDOT to replace 558 of its bridges in poor condition more quickly, while simultaneously minimizing impacts on motorists. The RBR Project is unique because it is the first of its kind in the USA to bundle the replacement of hundreds of bridges in a public-private partnership (P3) agreement. No other P3 project in the country has embarked on a multi-asset, multi-location undertaking of this magnitude.

In addition to making use of private investment, the innovative delivery of the RBR Project is increasing efficiency. By focusing on bridges of similar size and design, components can be mass produced, which results in time and cost savings to taxpayers. Tasked with delivering the massive project, PennDOT has worked with Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners (PWKP), which has been financing, designing, constructing and maintaining the bridges. The consortium of companies within the development entity includes: Plenary Group USA Ltd. and Walsh Investors LLC, which are providing financing and long-term management; a joint-venture construction team of Walsh Construction Company and Granite Construction Company; HDR Inc., which is the lead design firm; and Walsh Infrastructure Management, which will provide maintenance for a 25-year period upon completion of the bridges.

PennDOT and PWKP, Plenary have recently started construction on the 558th and final bridge in the RBR program. Currently, there are seven remaining bridges under construction as part of the milestone P3 program. Construction crews have started work on the bridge carrying Coleman Road (State Route 2006) over CSX (Western Maryland Railroad) in Straban Township, Adams County. This crossing is the project’s 558th bridge to mobilize into construction, and the replacement should be completed this autumn.

“We are excited to begin work on the final bridge of this innovative P3 project,” said Ed Dice, head of delivery at the Plenary Group. “Beginning construction on the 558th bridge is a significant milestone that highlights years of hard work on the PA RBR project. The partnering approach between PWKP and PennDOT has been, and will continue to be, instrumental in completing the few remaining bridges in this first-of-its-kind program.”

David Casey, president of Walsh Construction’s heavy civil division, added, “Starting work on the 558th bridge is the latest milestone for our partnerships across all levels of this historic joint venture. From PennDOT and project stakeholders to construction teams, subcontractors and community partners, we are all working hand-in-hand to improve Pennsylvania’s infrastructure.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.