Crowd gathers to watch UDOT crews move new bridge in over I-80

Apr 9, 2022, 4:42 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 5:22 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Even on Saturdays, it’s OK for kids to learn.

Henry, 4, and his sister Meredith, 6, had the best classroom of all Saturday morning because it was one where they just might remember what they saw in front of them.

“Whoa, that’s a lot,” Meredith said.

“They had to scoop up all the rocks and things,” said her grandfather, Robert Burr.

Lots of people in the Sugar House area came out to see their new bridge on 1700 East over Interstate 80 get moved into place.

The Utah Department of Transportation knew people would be excited, so they decided to hold a little watch party.

“It’s cool to have them see the workings of the city,” said Whitney Wilde, Henry and Meredith’s mother. “I think it’s great for them to see all of this.”

UDOT even gave the kids playdough, a toy dump truck, and hot dogs for everyone.

“The hot dogs are delicious,” Burr said.

Who knew watching a bridge move was such a spectator sport?

“It’s exciting because you don’t see this every day,” said Andy Wargula.

It’s not a fast process. Using hydraulic jacks and low-friction pads, the bridge is moved about 5-10 feet every hour.

It took about six hours to slide into place. However, UDOT used a process it developed, called Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC), to make the overall project less of a burden to those who live in the area.

“They built it over here and they’re sliding it over here. That way, this bridge, the existing bridge, could be used,” said Wargula, who lives in the area and has been watching the project all along.

The ABC method was pioneered by UDOT engineers.

It has been used dozens of times across the state.

Many other states’ transportation departments have come to Utah to learn the method.

“We’ve been able to minimize impacts to people and just getting in and getting out over a single weekend,” said Becky Stromness, a UDOT project manager. “The pavement that’s out here, along with the bridges, has been here since the 1960s. This is the original stuff and its come time to replace it. It has aged out and the conditions were deteriorating, and the ride wasn’t that great.”

The old bridge was demolished Friday evening. The new bridge, which was built nearby, was then slid into place.

It’s easy enough to explain so even a 6 and 4-year-old can understand it.

“That’s kind of cool, huh?” their grandfather said to them.

Watching the bridge move might inspire them to one day maybe develop the next big thing.

“It’s not just a construction site, but it’s a neighborhood project,” Burr said. “So, it’s been good.”

Just before 5:15 p.m. Saturday, UDOT officials said both directions of I-80 between 700 East and Foothill Drive reopened ahead of schedule.

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Crowd gathers to watch UDOT crews move new bridge in over I-80