New “bridge in a backpack” construction method saves Vermont town time and money

Updated Sep 17, 2014

Those who have driven in the Fairfield, Vermont, area recently may have wondered what construction crews were doing placing hollow tubing over Wanzer Brook. Don’t worry, the crews weren’t going crazy. They were implementing a new bridge construction method dubbed “bridge in a backpack.”

According to a report from the Burlington Free-Press, the hollow tubes are made of a material impervious to the elements. The tubes are filled with concrete, put in place and are immediately used to support a deck which crews install atop the span.

Using traditional methods, it would have taken several months to build the 35-foot bridge. Thanks to bridge in a backpack, it should be ready for traffic in just a few weeks.

Although Fairfield is paying just $45,000 on the $900,000 project, the bridge is built to last just as long as traditional bridges. According to the Vermont Agency of Transportation, it should last at least 100 years with little maintenance.

Thanks to new-age methods like bridge in a backpack, only eight percent of Vermont’s bridges are believed to be structurally deficient. That’s down from over 30 percent just a few years ago.