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I-91 bridge in Hartford named '2022 Bridge of the Year'

The I-91 flyover bridge in Hartford, which officially opened last spring, was praised for its design work and the steel used in its construction.
Credit: FOX61

HARTFORD, Conn. — A bridge in Hartford has won a national award for its design work and use of materials.

The National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) has announced Wednesday that the Interstate 91 Interchange 29 Exit Ramp Flyover Bridge – recently finished last year in an attempt to ease traffic in the area – won the 2022 Bridge of the Year award. 

The bridge and ramp connect the Charter Oak Bridge and Interstate 84 east. 

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The flyover bridge was part of the state’s $240 million Charter Oak Bridge project. The project's goal is to make various improvements to reduce congestion and improve safety in Hartford, East Hartford, and Wethersfield.

The organization said the bridge features a two-lane, high-speed ramp that showcases a "novel approach" to bridge building, using a triple I-girder straddle bent to help eliminate critical fracture points after long-term use, also lowering long-term inspection costs. 

"The triple I-girder straddle bent cap is a highly innovative and very effective solution," said Prize Bridge Award Judge Domenic Coletti, PE, principal bridge engineer at HDR. "It took advantage of steel's benefits all around."

The state Departments of Transportation in Texas and Georgia, which both typically rely on concrete straddle bents, are closely examining this steel alternative.

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The organization also praised the use of a specific kind of steel. The steel used for the flyover bridge was uncoated weathering steel. The NSBA said the patina, or weathering, that happens over time after the steel is exposed to the elements protects the structural steel from corrosion. 

The NSBA said the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) has used this type of weathering steel since the early 1960s and some of the state's oldest bridges are still in very good condition 55 years later. 

"It's fitting that the inaugural Bridge of the Year Award goes to a first-of-its-kind project," said NSBA Senior Director of Market Development Jeff Carlson. "The I-91 Interchange 29 Exit Ramp Flyover Bridge marks the beginning of a new approach to eliminating fracture critical elements by providing load path redundancy--one that has already made an impact beyond Connecticut's borders."

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The American Institute of Steel Construction and the National Steel Bridge Alliance has recognized outstanding bridge design since 1928. Eight bridges won Prize Bridge Awards in the 2022 competition

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Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

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