2021 Design Award Winner: Old Easton Bridge

May 26, 2021

After several inspections revealed increasing scour issues and deterioration of the main load-carrying members, the Old Easton Bridge in Plumstead Township had to be replaced due to structural deficiencies and years of wear.

The township wanted to replace the original two-lane bridge with a more robust design, but permit requirements prevented widening the roadway, and a limited budget further constrained the design team. Using precast concrete, the team built a structure that fit the original bridge’s exact footprint. In its completion, the Old Easton Bridge won a 2021 PCI Design Award for Best Bridge with a Main Span Up to 75 Feet.

We’ll explore the versatility and efficiency benefits of precast concrete, so you can better determine if it’s right for your next project. To learn more about the Old Easton Bridge, watch the video below.

Cross-Team Collaboration

“The biggest challenge was to design the bridge within a limited budget and timeframe, maintaining the existing under-clearance while ensuring the design was able to handle the required load ratings.”
-William Castle, Engineer of Record

The original bridge was a single-span, concrete structure founded on stone masonry abutments. Unfortunately, the age, foundation type, and bottom of footing elevations were unknown, and no original drawings or records of the bridge were available. This left many questions unanswered, but a skilled project team came together and used their previous experience working with precast concrete to address the challenges of this project. See the team below:

  • Owner: Plumstead Township Public Works
  • PCI-Certified Precast Concrete Producer: Northeast Prestressed Products
  • Engineer of Record: W.J. Castle, P.E. & Associates
  • General Contractor: DOLI Construction

Structural & Aesthetic Versatility

The design team replaced the exact footprint of the previous structure and concocted a solution to give the bridge a 1700s look within a modern design. To blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings and make the new bridge feel like it had been there for centuries, the design incorporated tinted stone facing on the fascia and wingwalls, precast concrete box beams, and painted bridge railings.

The existing stone abutments and wingwalls were left in place, and the top portion was removed. New abutments were installed behind the existing abutments to support the adjacent precast concrete box-beam superstructure. Two open bays were incorporated in the design to accommodate the existing gas main and leave room for future utilities. Reinforced concrete slabs were installed on the partially cut wingwalls, and stone facing was then added to the parapets and exterior face of the bridge to create the desired aesthetic.

Limited Community Disruption

Not only did this approach assist in overcoming the project’s unique challenges, but it also reduced the earthwork required, which made permits easier to obtain and preserved the existing hydraulic opening. By installing new bridge abutments behind the original ones, the remaining stone abutments and wingwalls act as scour protection for the new bridge. As a result, the team could forego the need for the PA Department of Environmental Protection and save the township critical time and money.

Precast, prestressed concrete beams are easy to fabricate and install since they are created off-site and delivered just in time. All seven box beams were installed over just two working days, reducing labor costs and construction time. The project was completed in July 2020, ahead of schedule and on budget.

Learn More About Precast, Prestressed Concrete

Learn why precast was chosen for the Old Easton Bridge in the video above and share it with your industry peers and clients to highlight how thoughtful implementation of precast concrete can level up your next project.

Interested in learning more about precast and how the precasters of the PCI Mid-Atlantic Chapter support projects of all kinds? Explore the PCI Mid-Atlantic Solutions Center for helpful resources and get in touch with PCI-MA for precast information, higher education partnerships, and more.

Build Better Bridges – More Resources to Get You Started

PCI Pre-Recorded Webinar: Accelerated Bridge Construction Using Precast Concrete

PCI Transportation Publications & Online Resources Catalog



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