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Evaluation of a New Arch Bridge Technology for Short Spans

Project #: 4W3508
Start Date: 03/15/2011
End Date: 03/31/2012
Status: Completed

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) desires cost-effective solutions for constructing short-span vehicle crossing structures. Such crossings must satisfy multiple criteria covering geometrics, hydraulics, environmental considerations, constructability, maintainability, service life, initial cost, and more. Several approaches are available for constructing such crossings (e.g., bridge, steel culvert, precast concrete culvert, etc.), with each approach offering different advantages and disadvantages at any given location based on the design criteria listed above. A new technology developed at the University of Maine and licensed by Advanced Infrastructure Technologies (AIT) of Orono, ME—the Bridge-in-a-Backpack system can potentially offer another cost-effective approach to providing such structures. In this project, an evaluation of the new Bridge-in-a-Backpack technology will be conducted to determine whether it is appropriate for Montana and, if so, areas and situations in which it should be considered as an additional crossing structure alternative. This analysis will be conducted using a comprehensive set of design criteria established in collaboration with MDT. The Bridge-in- a-Backpack system and other systems MDT currently uses for short-span crossings will be evaluated in the context of these criteria to provide MDT with the most appropriate recommendations. Structures to be considered include traditional bridge and culvert options as well as proprietary systems such as the Bridge-in-a-Backpack system and CON/SPAN Bridge System. This will ensure any recommendations regarding Bridge-in-a-Backpack are made in the context of other available options.


The objective of this research is to conduct a review of the Bridge-in-a-Backpack system – a new construction technology for a corrosion-resistant arch bridge – and other traditional crossing systems that may be used in Montana, to determine where they can be applied with maximum efficacy.


  • Eli Cuelho
    Eli Cuelho