Heart River Bridge Rehabilitation Project

Repairing Deteriorating Bridge Pier on an Aging Bridge in North Dakota

Dickinson, North Dakota – The Heart River is a 180-mile-long river that flows from the western side of North Dakota into the Missouri River. Near its headwaters, the river runs through Dickinson, a city of nearly 23,000 people. It’s here, on North Dakota State Highway 22, a north-south highway which intersects with Interstate 94, that the Ulteig Bridge Team has designed a plan to rehabilitate an aging bridge.

The 157-foot long, 58.4-foot wide bridge (deck width, edge to edge) was originally built in 1931 and reconstructed in 1967. With daily average traffic of 9,940 vehicles, the bridge was last inspected in September 2020, which noted “numerous spalls on the deck” and “pier 2W cracking/disintegration at the waterline on both original pier columns. “Beyond a deck overlay, upgrading the bridge rails, and replacing the expansion joint, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) needed a less invasive approach to pier repair. After meeting with NDDOT, as a team we were able to come up with a suitable repair method: using a new product called PileMedic to repair one of the bridge’s deteriorating piers. The different use of this product would lead to a better end product during construction, and this project represented the first time it was used for a bridge rehabilitation project in the state. NDDOT engineers were interested in testing it out as a possible solution for other bridge rehabilitation projects across the state.

“We worked in a very collaborative effort with our colleagues at NDDOT,” said John Butt, P.E., Technical Manager with the Ulteig Bridge Team. “This represented an exciting opportunity to apply fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) to a bridge rehabilitation project.”

“NDDOT is being proactive in using this solution,” Butt added. “Not every bridge needs to be replaced. For counties and states on tight budgets, the Heart River Bridge offers a good example of how to extend the life of a bridge. This is important for maintaining our nation’s infrastructure.”