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Accelerated Bridge Construction Overview

For more than two decades the industry has used prefabricated road and bridge elements, known as “accelerated bridge construction,” to improve worker safety, overall quality, and reduce inconvenience to the public. The use of prefabricated building elements and components is widespread throughout most, if not all, of the construction trades around the world – from the construction of shopping malls and homes, to utilities and roadbuilding. 

After a commercial truck struck one of the crossbeams of the I-5 Bridge over the Skagit River in Washington, accelerated bridge construction allowed that bridge to be replaced in weeks –reducing lengthy traffic jams for the estimated 71,000 drivers who depend on that route each day to take detours.

Building bridges on-site can present many challenges for worker safety, road accessibility and construction. Prefabricating bridge elements – such as bridge spans, abutments or support beams – off-site offers manufacturers better control over environmental conditions and other variables which once challenged the quality of construction without compromising worker safety.

Once prefabrication of the elements is completed, they can be slid, or otherwise moved into place quickly – minimizing inconvenience to the public and maximizing worker safety.  Examples of “slide-in place” bridge construction can be found on FHWA’s website at