MDOT Bridge Field Services partnering with local agencies to save money and share knowledge

Contact: Jocelyn Hall, MDOT Office of Communications
Agency: Transportation

Fast facts:
- The MDOT Bridge Field Services unit in Lansing partnering with local agency road commissions and departments of public works.
- Collaboration allows sharing of knowledge and resources, saves money.
- Future opportunities to partner still exist via the MDOT Bureau of Bridges and Structures.

MDOT, St. Clair County Road Commission, and University of Michigan staff gathered to test the use of an ultra-high-performance concrete to create new joints on the Pine River Bridge on Kilgore Road.
MDOT, St. Clair County Road Commission, and University of Michigan staff gathered to test the use of an ultra-high-performance concrete to create new joints on the Pine River Bridge on Kilgore Road.

December 26, 2017 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has long viewed infrastructure management as a team effort, but a new initiative spurred by MDOT's Bureau of Bridges and Structures has brought that view into reality, offering local agencies the opportunity to team up and test out new maintenance strategies alongside state experts.

In April, MDOT was contacted by the St. Clair County Road Commission (SCCRC) in search of a new solution to repair deteriorated joints on the Pine River Bridge on Kilgore Road. The bridge was originally constructed in 1989. While the joint repairs are necessary to preserve the pavement surface and overall life expectancy of the bridge, the typical solution for this type of repair has been found to have limited capabilities and result in premature cracking making future maintenance inevitable.

Both MDOT and its local agency partners are continuing efforts to develop long-term construction and maintenance efforts for infrastructure, and this scenario was ideal for an experimental product. The road commission reached out to MDOT in search of a high-performance concrete product, and agreed that the location was ideal to try a new product that had undergone extensive lab testing, including one field trial the previous year.

In August, the road commission was joined by MDOT and the University of Michigan in testing the new high-performance concrete. All components of the concrete were carefully measured and mixed on-site before being applied to forms along each joint being replaced. The University of Michigan collected several samples of the concrete, which were taken to the lab for extensive testing. The road commission was left with fresh joints, and the entire bridge was then finished with a new asphalt overlay and waterproofing sealant. While the concrete product was found to be successful, arguably the most positive outcome was the partnership between two agencies that promoted the use of a new product, and included additional on-site manpower to assist in implementing this product.

This partnership is part of the overall goal and intention of the MDOT Bureau of Bridges and Structures. By partnering with local agencies, products, equipment, resources, and staff can be shared to help control costs and develop alternative maintenance strategies that may otherwise have gone unused.

The use of this concrete product is just one of the recent initiatives employed by Jason DeRuyver, a manager within the Bureau of Bridges and Structures. "We're excited to partner and share what we know about maintenance and different experimental products with local agencies that might not have access to those resources," said DeRuyver.

In recent months, DeRuyver has made contact with road commissions and public works departments (DPW) hoping to extend an invitation to partner for educational purposes should the opportunity arise. This includes answering any questions local agencies may have about their own upcoming maintenance. In addition, DeRuyver has also extended invitations to surrounding local agencies in the event that MDOT staff have an upcoming specialized maintenance project.              

"Teaching local agencies about these new tactics and products will help them be more efficient in their own area, and they may even realize a product or repair method we are using is actually ideal for some of their own infrastructure maintenance," said DeRuyver. "Transportation budgets are going to remain tight in comparison to the work we still have to do, so any opportunity to educate other staff through job shadowing will be a benefit to those agencies, and one that won't cost their agency much in the long run."

"MDOT was extremely helpful in our joint repair project,” said DeWayne Rogers of the SCCRC. "They were part of the process from beginning to end. There were several hurdles to get through lining up all the materials, equipment and labor. When time for construction arrived, they were there to guide and assist all the way. The project was a success and we look forward to taking the know-how we gained and building on it for next season."

In recent months, road agencies have begun to trouble shoot through DeRuyver and his unit. Most recently they assisted the St. Joseph County Road Commission strengthen a nail-laminated timber bridge. Local agencies in search of advice, direction, or additional education for bridge maintenance projects are encouraged to reach out to DeRuyver by e-mail at