InTrans / Jul 20, 2020

Buchanan County Bridge Tour goes virtual

“It’s always a pleasure to talk about bridges,” Buchanan County Engineer Brian Keierleber proclaims in one of four videos that make up a virtual tour of innovative bridges in his northeast Iowa county.

Keierleber’s enthusiasm is obvious as he talks about a handful of the county’s 260 bridges that used innovative technologies in concrete, wood, steel, and railcar bridge construction.

Under normal circumstances, only about 50–60 people would have been able to join Keierleber on the tour as part of the Bridge Innovation and Demonstration Days event in Buchanan County. As the event went virtual, due to the ongoing pandemic, so did the tour, inviting the world to see insights into the rural Iowa county.

All four videos are available here.

More than 150 people attended at least one of the three days of the virtual event, which also included a welcome from Keierleber each day and a presentation from him on a recent bridge that used innovative steel techniques. The webinars for each day’s events are here.

The virtual county bridge tour had Keierleber look at and offer observations about 18 bridges. Some of the innovations included the following:

  • Ultra-high-performance concrete (UHPC) pi-shaped girders
  • Painted-galvanized steel H-piles
  • Reuse of retired railroad flatcars
  • Glued laminated (glulam) timber

Buchanan County is home to some of the first bridges in the country to use UHPC components, and several of its innovative bridges are part of ongoing or completed InTrans research projects to study the long-term effectiveness of the new technologies.

Keierleber not only discusses the innovations but also explains how the bridges came to use the innovations and also offers additional details on construction, such as the rail types used and the slope. He also describes lessons learned and future innovations he’d like to test.

“Every day is a learning experience,” Keierleber said. “Looking for better ways of doing things is always the answer.”