Project Profile: Fishing Creek Bridge
Scope of work: Construction of concrete bridge over Fishing Creek, adjacent retaining walls and piers, and removal of existing wooden bridge
BC&E Member companies involved: Wagman Heavy Civil, Inc.
Sometimes it takes a village to complete a construction project.
Replacing the 1940s wooden bridge over Fishing Creek was always going to be a big job. To accommodate growth in the region, the 90-foot-long bridge on MD 261 between the towns of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach needed an upgrade to a wider, prestressed concrete girder bridge with 12-foot lanes, an additional turn lane, five-foot wide ADA-compliant sidewalks, and bicycle-compatible shoulders. Located next to the largest charter fleet on the Western Shore, the bridge needed to be raised four feet to accommodate larger boats. As the main route into Chesapeake Beach, the bridge replacement would have to be executed without blocking the 16,000 vehicle trips the bridge handles daily. It would also require the project team to coordinate with the United States Navy and extend a Navy pier which would be impacted by the bridge replacement.
Consequently, extensive and open collaboration among the project team, the State Highway Administration, the Navy and the surrounding communities became vital to the success of the multi-year, $21-million project.
“Doing outreach and being upfront and open with the community certainly helped us get buy-in from everybody and it also produced a better project,” said Brandon Zerilla, a Project Manager with Wagman.
One Chesapeake Beach employee who participated in that outreach, had extensive knowledge of utility installations near the bridge.That knowledge became invaluable to Wagman when the project team realized they would need to redesign part of the project to relocate water and gas lines. The collaboration, in turn, provided the town with a voice in the redesign and knowledge about utility placements which could help the town with future maintenance.
Although the actual bridge construction and demolition proceeded smoothly, sitework was a different matter. Poor soil on site prompted further changes in the construction plan. To create acceptable foundations beneath the bridge and the adjacent retaining walls, the Wagman team “ended up driving over 40,000 linear feet of H pile and putting in large-diameter pipe pile for the abutments… Instead of backfilling with dirt, we backfilled with light-weight aggregate in order to reduce the loads,” Zerilla said.
Due to its prominent location, the bridge also needed to be especially attractive.
“The most impressive thing about this bridge is the architecture,” Zerilla said. “We did special formwork on the retaining walls and special staining to create images of seagulls and cranes, and make the bridge blend with the community.” At its annual awards banquet in January, the Maryland Quality Initiative awarded Wagman the Award of Excellence for Partnering in the State of Maryland for its work on Fishing Creek Bridge.