Bridge Bundling: Building Economies of Scale
According to the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure (American Society of Civil Engineers), over 250,000 bridges in the US are at least 50 years old, and “46,154, or 7.5% of the nation’s bridges, are considered structurally deficient.”
Across the US and Puerto Rico, municipal and state transportation agencies face growing backlogs for bridge maintenance, rehabilitation, or replacement projects. At the same time, the new Bridge Formula Program (BFP)–established under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)–provides $5.3B in 2023 to fund highway bridge replacement, rehabilitation, preservation, protection, and construction. The 2023 allocation also includes a 15% funding set aside for off-system bridges on public roads. Even with the BFP, estimates still point to a $100B+ shortfall in bridge infrastructure investment over the coming years.
Bridge bundling uses established and known Alternative Project Delivery procurement methods, including Design-Build, Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC), and Public-Private Partnerships (P3), to deliver multiple bridge rehabilitation or replacement projects within a single contract or procurement program. Many of these programs focus on grouping smaller, shorter-span bridges in rural locations into a larger program model.
The benefits of the bridge bundling approach include the following:
Developing standardized options and strategies to reduce costs while developing a customized group of solutions for individual sites.
Using hybrid delivery models (Design-Build and CM/GC) to match construction efforts with differing levels of design progression.
Incorporating innovative solutions typically reserved for larger, more complex projects, including Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) techniques and prefabricated bridge elements and systems (PBES).
Expanding the competitive environment and market participation by strong regional constructors or multi-constructor teams.
Bridge bundling programs often aggregate smaller, rural projects into a single procurement effort. These programs allow regional firms with strong expertise to break into the Alternative Project Delivery market and compete against national firms lacking local connections. Elements like locality, capacity, and experience with communities, Agencies Having Jurisdiction, and the local subcontractor and DBE market can define the win. Municipal and state transportation agencies find bridge bundling advantageous to reduce backlog and deliver the best project value at the lowest public impact. Using Alternative Project Delivery procurement methods, including Design-Build, CM/GC, and P3, bundling promotes natural economies of scale, streamlines procurement cycles, and provides a unique environment for innovative solution-building within the project delivery team.
Interested in learning more? While there are many examples, bridge bundling programs across the US you may want to explore include:
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) – The Eastern Plains Timber Bridge Replacement replaces ten structures in Eastern Colorado.
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) – The Bridge Bundling Feasibility Analysis Program is IDOT’s first step to identify potential structures to bundle and recommend the optimal Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) mechanism (CM/GC, Design-Build, or Progressive Design-Build).
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) – Bridging Kentucky is a bridge bundling program wrapping up in Q4 of 2023. The program rehabilitates or replaces over 360 structures in 96 counties statewide.
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) – The 2022 Pilot Bridge Bundling project completed 19 bridges and structures listed as “serious” or “critical” over nine months.
Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) – The 554 Bridges project, completed in 2014, was part of the Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program and completed 554 rehabilitations or replacements in under three years.