Case Study

Building Bridges for Tomorrow with a New Sense of Sustainability

When it comes to protecting our home, it begins with the simplest of things. Our planet is covered by about 70% water, which is interconnected through streams, creeks, lakes and oceans. Each of these components form a very complex network that means what we do upstream, downstream and anywhere around water can have a lasting impact in our environment that echoes around the world. This is why working in even the smallest local creek takes special care and dedication to preserve the natural integrity of the surrounding ecosystems.

Installation of Precast Three-sided Culvert: 16 pieces weighting 38 tons each installed in 18 hours. Precast option accelerated construction schedule by two weeks in favor of the owner and mitigated damage in sensitive creek.

However, with sprawling urban development and massive arterial highways, the need to feed our cities with infrastructures often challenges us to build on top, beside, and through natural waterways. One of the best ways to nurture the delicate balance between efficient construction and environmental sustainability is with prefabricated, modular construction. This is one of the best strategies when it comes to building bigger roads to cross major creeks and rivers that run through the heart of a developed city.

Prefabricated culvert construction allows us to create bridges with minimal disruption to life inside a creek. Typically, building bridges requires extensive formwork and excavation to support the bridge in its temporary state as it is being constructed. This often means planting temporary footings or scaffolding directly in the waterway, which, as we know, can have a rippling effect disrupting life downstream. On the other hand, with prefabricated construction, the footings are excavated, constructed and cured outside of the waterway. The culvert can then be simply dropped in place. The structure is self-supporting, structurally robust, and best of all, it doesn’t require any support inside the waterway

Installation of Precast Three-sided Culvert: Pieces are set into final position using overhead crane in minutes without the need for any scaffolding or temporary bracing in the waterway

From a technical perspective, concrete is an excellent material for building in a wet environment since it is robust, and it can be designed not to leach chemicals into the water. With the right design, quality construction, and relatively low maintenance a concrete structure can even achieve a 100-year design life! Perhaps one of the most remarkable benefits of prefabrication that has yet to be addressed is its impact on the timeline. Instead of spending a week to install scaffolding, a week to tie reinforcement, and a week to wait for curing, prefabricated culverts can be manufactured offsite in a quality controlled environment and installed in a fraction of the time. In some cases, installation can be done in a single day. This, of course, is a key benefit that skill constructors can translate in to valuable cost-savings and a more flexible timeline.

With creeks, waterways, and oceans at the core of how we connect with the environment and other people around the world, it is crucial that we build our infrastructure with this in mind. There is no doubt that the need for infrastructure will continue to grow, and we must feed this growth with responsible construction practices. Prefabricated culverts allow us to build infrastructure that blends into the environment with relatively small disturbance to the environment both during and post-construction. For this reason, we believe that investing in prefabricated technology, and building a team of experts that specialize in this construction philosophy can help match the benefits of this strategy with our global need for environmental sustainability.

KEYWORDS: Sustainability Environmental Protection Innovative Construction Accelerated Construction Methods Best Practices for Creek Work Creeks Streams Rivers Precast Culvert Road Road Building Ministry of Environment