Harrisburg PennDOT officials presented District 10 representatives with a plaque Wednesday, recognizing their work under the Pennsylvania Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.
The RBR Project is the first program in the United States that groups hundreds of bridge replacements in a public-private partnership (P3) agreement.
“It's actually the largest P3 in the nation,” said Dave Layman, civil engineer manager and P3 contact for District 10.
The state's P3 plan of action helped to mitigate costs by leveling a “shared financial obligation” on both public and private entities, according to Layman.
The $899 million RBR Project allowed for PennDOT to complete “bonus projects.”
Because the P3 program doesn't use transportation improvement program money, it specifically replaced bridges that wouldn't normally be covered by traditional funding.
District 10 spearheaded the 38 RBR bridges that needed to be done in its area. Eleven of them were in Butler County.
Local governments weren't involved in bridge reconstruction, but cooperation from local municipalities was important.
“There was positive coordination with the townships,” Layman said. “We didn't want to set forth any financially (burdensome) obligations.”
District 10 completed its 38 bridge reconstructions since 2015 after going through a significant vetting process.
PennDOT's central office asked districts to identify and analyze bridge needs to begin projects in mid-2015.
“We only had about six months to develop all this,” Layman said. “The intent was to keep these bridges kind of simple and straightforward.”
Eight of the 38 bridges in District 10 were labeled “early completion bridges.” These bridges were prepared for immediate attention, so when the state awarded the P3 contracts, work could immediately begin.
Butler County had four ECBs. District 10 worked quickly to secure environmental and developmental easements necessary to get things in place.
“Typically, it takes about a year to get all those clearances,” Layman said. “We did them in three months.”
Butler is one of the busiest counties in District 10, according to Layman. RBR specifically targets small- to medium-sized, noninterstate bridges, so 10 boroughs and townships saw bridgework.
“The majority of them were less than 100 feet,” Layman said.
The District 10 crew completed its list of bridges in 2019. Drivers now have complete access.
District 10's work allows for bragging rights. The bridge on Cruikshank Road in Middlesex Township going over a Glade Run tributary was the first to reopen for traffic in the state.
As it did with the District 10 team, the state is recognizing bridges completed under the RBR project. Drivers will be able to identify bridges by a sign that reads “RBR” next to them.
“The majority of the bridges look like a lot of bridges they drive over every day,” Layman said.
The results aren't just immediate: They're lasting. The P3 contracts also include 25 years of bridge maintenance on the part of the contractor.
“We have little to no maintenance cost over the next 25 years,” Layman said.
At its completion, the RBR project will have replaced 558 structurally deficient bridges in Pennsylvania.
Layman anticipates the next wave of P3 projects being more focused, high-dollar projects targeting specific needs in Pennsylvania.
“There may be more to come,” Layman said.
To view an interactive map of the RBR Project, visit PennDOT's website.
The 11 Butler County replacements that have been completed include: a Zelienople Borough bridge on Route 68 over Glade Run, a Center Township bridge on Route 308 over a tributary to Stony Run, a Jefferson Township bridge on Route 356 over a tributary to Thorn Creek, a Summit Township bridge on Route 1025 over Bonnie Brook, a Clinton Township bridge on Route 2007 over Bull Creek, a Butler Township bridge on Route 3004 over Connoquenessing Creek, a Forward Township bridge on Route 3010 over Glade Run, a Middlesex Township bridge on Route 3012 over a tributary to Glade Run, a Clay Township bridge on Route 4002 over the Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad tracks and Jackson Township bridges on Route 8005 over Route 19 north bound and on Route 3027 over Little Connoquenessing Creek.