Oakland University (OU) is a world-class higher education institution with an enrollment of over 20,000 students. OU has six co-ed residence halls on its campus; two of those halls, Hill House (Hill) and Van Wagoner House (Van Wagoner), have pedestrian bridges spanning from the sidewalk to the third floor which are the main entrances and exits for each building. Each bridge consisted of two reinforced concrete side wall beams supporting a reinforced concrete slab.

SME was retained by OU to perform a condition assessment of both bridges. We discovered numerous “critical” to “serious” deteriorations on the concrete decks and supporting beams. Based on our findings, we recommended that OU close the Hill bridge and restrict foot traffic under the bridge. We met with OU and learned that a bridge replacement needed to be designed and constructed within six weeks in order to occupy the dormitories for the upcoming school term.

SME developed an option to demolish the existing bridge down to the support piers and replacement with a prefabricated steel bridge. The bridge could be shipped to the site in a one piece assembly consisting of the superstructure and the deck. OU selected this option because it expedited bridge replacement by allowing construction, demolition and restoration work to take place simultaneously. The option also suited OU’s future expansion needs for both houses as the prefabricated bridges could easily be lifted and moved without damage.

SME completed a design and provided OU with a bid package in about a week. Even though the Van Wagoner bridge was about two years behind the Hill bridge in planned renovation, OU decided to repair and replace both bridges at the same time to save costs.

SME assisted OU in securing a contract with Anderson Bridges to fabricate two bridges in four weeks. We also contacted Akins Construction to perform demolition and construct the replacement bridges. Demolition work and pier restoration was completed by Akins in four weeks. The prefabricated bridges arrived in time, and were installed in about four hours, ready to be used a few days later by students returning for OU’s fall semester, safe and secure.