Demolition Requirements for Bridge Construction Projects – Best Practices Guideline

Link to Latest Report: Final Report (Phase I)


Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) is generally used in scenarios where an already existing bridge must be removed and replaced in a short amount of time. While significant effort has gone into techniques and technology for the new structure, there has been little effort on the removal techniques of the existing structure.

Currently there are two primary documents used in bridge construction: the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specification addresses the minimum bridge design requirements and the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Construction Specifications stipulate bridge construction aspects. There is very limited information available to guide both design engineers and contractors on how to approach deconstruction or the removal aspects of an existing bridge. The design and construction specifications provide very little direction on demolition and each state approaches this work very differently. The need for a national specification has been highlighted in the past year with two worker fatalities occurring in two separate instances due to the collapse of a bridge structure while undergoing demolition.

The main objective of this project is to determine the current state of practice and state of the art in bridge demolition (both conventional and accelerated) and develop a best practices guideline for bridge demolition. The work of this project will include a literature review and state DOT survey (to better understand the current state of practice), development of a best practices guide, and identification of areas in bridge demolition that require further investigation.

The research will be focused in three areas: (1) understanding current state of practice
and state of the art in bridge demolition, (2) organizing this information into a best
practices guideline for bridge demolition, and (3) identifying needs for further research in
bridge demolition. The work of this study will be primarily in the form of (1)
communicating with bridge owners to determine what is most needed from their
perspective, (2) reviewing available specifications, reports, and case studies related to
bridge demolition, and (3) communicating with engineering firms and contractors that
conduct demolition work. This work will be conducted in the below list of project tasks.

  • Task 1 – Literature Review
  • Task 2 – Bridge Owner Survey
  • Task 3 – Comparative Study
  • Task 4 – AASHTO Specification Review
  • Task 5 – Final Report and Guide Development

The work of this project is currently on hold while AASHTO T-4 determines a refined scope and approach for this project to ensure it addresses the needs of the stakeholders.

Research Team
Principal Investigators: David Garber and SJ Lee
The work will be conducted in cooperation with ISU’s research team.