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February 24, 2017   |   Diesel Technology Forum

Policy Insider

Helping Raise a Bridge and Move $200 Billion in Goods

Replacing structurally deficient bridges is critical and getting this necessary work done on time can’t happen without diesel technology.

This past week the nation’s governors were in DC. While the ideological divide between some of them remains quite wide, one policy issue that keeps them all talking together is infrastructure. The National Governors Association recently tallied up a list of 428 “must do” projects. Among the leaders on the list are bridge projects. Recent estimates have 1 in 9 of the 605,000 bridges in the U.S. listed as structurally deficient. Replacing bridges is critical, getting this necessary work done on time can’t happen without diesel technology.

According to Transportation for America, most bridges built in the U.S. are designed with a fifty year lifespan….and most of our bridges are much older than fifty years. For decades, we have opted for “deferred maintenance” instead of facing the facts and replacing or repairing this critical infrastructure.  While bridges may seem mundane, many of them are vital to the economic health of the country. Let’s take a look at just one of them….the Bayonne Bridge.

This piece of infrastructure was built during the 1960s and serves as a major artery linking maritime gateways in New Jersey. Fast forward 50 years, and those maritime gateways in New Jersey are now one of the largest container ports in the world and the Bayonne Bridge services a record number of trucks moving a substantial value of exports and imports.  While the bridge is past its expiration date, it is also woefully inadequate to service the port. Ocean going vessels have become much larger and taller and the bridge must be raised to allow for modern ships to enter the harbor.

Recognizing the value of the bridge, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey undertook a massive project to rebuild and raise the bridge.

This timelapse video shows the amazing engineering effort to accomplish the task.

One fact that becomes apparent is the impressive number and variety of equipment used to get the job done. Typical equipment includes machines for  demolition, site clearing, excavation, and foundation work would include excavators, bulldozers, backhoes, chainsaws and tree stump grinders, compaction equipment, tractors, jackhammers, and concrete pumping trucks, hoist complexes, dump trucks, wheel  loaders, concrete trucks, back hoes, concrete haulers and commercial vehicles to move building materials and excavated material. Construction equipment likely to be used during production of the superstructure would include overhead gantries, compressors, cranes, derricks, hoists, bending jigs, and welding machines.

Almost all of this equipment runs on diesel engines powered by diesel fuel to get the job done. Without diesel technology, this project could not be completed. As other communities across the country look to expand infrastructure or simply maintain what is in place, diesel technology is there to get the job done.


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Ezra Finkin
Director, Policy

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