Engineers Week celebrates and promotes engineering and technology careers. Civil engineering has such a profound effect on every aspect of our daily lives. As a bridge engineer, I help people get from one place to another in the safest and most efficient manner possible. And I get to do that where I live. I get to see my designs come to life and actually use the work I design.
I work in Manchester, and my firm, Fuss & O’Neill, is currently working with the city on two bridge improvement projects that are taking very different paths to enhancing the built environment of the Queen City. The investment into this local infrastructure will bolster the long-term viability of these key connectors of the community.
The Queen City Bridge connects the West Side of the city to Elm Street and points downtown, making it a highly traveled bridge with many daily users. Due to its historic nature (originally constructed in 1923) and large size (nearly 1,200 feet), addressing any deficiencies can be challenging.
After considering the bridge’s importance to the city, both functionally and aesthetically, the best engineering decision was to improve upon the existing bridge and design solutions that would enhance and preserve it. To keep the bridge operational and extend its life, Fuss & O’Neill is rehabilitating and preserving the bridge through a variety of measures, including:
- A new membrane installation.
- Replacement of the expansion joints
- Implementation of upgraded pedestrian effects (curbs, sidewalks and lighting).
- New pavement over the entire structure.
Since the Queen City Bridge is such a critical connector for the city, traffic patterns were studied and traffic control measures were evaluated so that the project team could implement a plan to keep the bridge open during construction.
While the Queen City Bridge is undergoing a renovation, sometimes replacing aging infrastructure is the better engineering decision, resulting in cost-effective, long-term solutions that reimagine the area. Goffs Falls Bridge on the other side of Manchester will soon be completely replaced.
The existing bridge will actually become a smaller structure, with a more economical layout that does not have to account for the vertical clearance it once did, as it is no longer an active rail corridor.
The coordination of this bridge replacement is being done in concert with trail improvements, which pass right through the area and are currently being designed.
To accommodate through-traffic during construction, Fuss & O’Neill designed a diversion road adjacent to the bridge so that cars can go around the structure as it is being replaced. Providing a detour is the most convenient and economical way to allow for continued access to local businesses and uninterrupted daily travel.
Engineers are problem solvers. Our joy is being able to turn a complex problem into a solution that is both practical and functional. As with bridge improvements, there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions. I am proud to be an engineer and problem solver, and proud to help keep Manchester moving forward.