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Maintaining America’s Bridges on a Shoestring Budget

May 6, 2021

New article in Roads & Bridges by Ulteig’s John Butt, P.E., shares valuable tips on extending the life of America’s bridges.

Although we don’t know where or when an infrastructure bill will become a reality, Ulteig’s Bridge Team is full steam ahead on making bridges better in communities across the U.S.

Small towns, counties and cities across the country are dealing with a serious issue – maintaining their bridges, many of which are in need of serious maintenance and repair. “If you were to ask me, ‘In what shape are America’s bridges?’ on a scale of 1 to 10,” said John Butt, P.E., Technical Manager with Ulteig’s transportation team, “I’d have to give them a 6 or a 7. In other words, not good.”

Even if an infrastructure bill is passed, which would likely create funding for bridge maintenance, the funding needs are so great, that many entities are just going to have to make do, assuming they receive no funding at all. So, how do you maintain bridges on a shoestring budget? Well, that’s the question John Butt attempts to answer in a new article published in the May issue of Roads & Bridges magazine.

“In this article, I provide some very practical and cost-effective recommendations for public works professionals who need to extend the life of their bridges on less-than-ideal budgets,” Butt said. “The reality is, even if local governments were flush with funds, I’d still recommend these tips. For example, increasing your street sweeping to prevent foreign objects from whittling away into bridge joints where they can do a fair amount of harm over time.”

Butt speaks from experience. His design experience includes reinforced concrete, prestressed concrete, steel, and timber members, plan set development, inspection, and load ratings. As Technical Manager, Butt has participated in the load rating of more than 500 bridges ranging from complicated trusses to simple span bridges and box culverts, and he’s inspected bridges in 35 states across the country. At Ulteig, he leads a team of 11 engineers who specialize in bridge design, replacement/rehabilitation, and inspections.

“When you’re passionate about bridges like me and the Ulteig bridge team, you want to do what you can to extend their lives,” Butt said.

  • Bridges


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