Last week, County Road over Ironwork Brook Bridge opened to traffic, culminating over three years of collaboration between BSC and the Town of Sheffield. Opening the bridge was the final step in a process that began in 2016 when BSC structural engineers identified it as a potential candidate to receive grant funding under MassDOT’s Small Bridge Program. BSC successfully assisted Sheffield with grant applications to help fund its replacement and continued to support the project through design and construction. Following completion of the final design in 2018, BSC assisted the Town’s successful MassWorks grant application, which combined with Small Bridge Grant completely funded the project.
Despite its relatively short span length, replacing the existing structure was challenging as it utilized historic construction techniques, such as the use of a “jacked arch” between the steel beams obscured most of the existing superstructure. The demolition phase allowed areas previously inaccessible to the design team to be observed. With a greater understanding of the existing structure, BSC worked closely with Sheffield, MassDOT and the contractor to discuss their concerns, constraints and possible ways to connect existing and modern designs safely and efficiently. In just two weeks, the team adjusted the design, modifying the highway proportion to accommodate the removal of excess pavement, greatly increasing the live load capacity of the existing bridge. Close collaboration with all key stakeholders throughout the construction process allowed the project to move effectively through the construction process to a successful conclusion.