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OxBlue Corp. installed solar-powered cameras in four locations to document construction of the Nevada DOT's Galena Creek Bridge. Cameras to the north and south (view shown here) of the bridge were positioned near the right-of-way line on the west side of the freeway alignment: close enough to provide good views, but far enough away to be protected from construction activities. Photo: OxBlue Corp.
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General contractor Emery Sapp & Sons used camera images to coordinate the efforts of bridge-jacking subcontractor Mammoet. The process held lane closures on the Gasconade River Bridge Replacement to 20 days instead of 60, the amount of time traditional reconstruction methods usually require. Photo: OxBlue Corp.

“The cameras are going all the time, so there's a photographic record,” says Randy Bowling, a founder of Bowling Mamola Group in Reno, which is managing construction. That's reduced the potential for “my-diary-vs.-your-diary” debates between the agency and contractors about when work was completed, whether deadlines were met, and who was onsite on particular days.

In addition, project managers and specialists in remote locations view images simultaneously for real-time troubleshooting without the delay and expense of traveling to the site. From hundreds of miles away in California, the geotechnical engineer used the cameras to monitor the soil being excavated. When soil color indicated a particular depth, he knew it was time for a site visit.

“These were things we didn't even consider at the time that the cameras went in, but they've resulted in substantial savings,” Bowling says.

Cash incentives for good time management

Project: Gasconade River Bridge replacement
Return on investment: $600,000 on-time completion bonus

When Missouri DOT (MoDOT) requested proposals for replacing a 56-year-old, 670-foot-long interstate highway bridge spanning the Gasconade River, managers added an incentive: a $600,000 bonus for getting it done quickly.

To complete the project, the westbound lanes of Interstate 44 would have to be closed at the bridge, with westbound traffic shifted to the eastbound side of the highway. Only one lane of traffic would be open in each direction along a half-mile stretch — creating a traffic slowdown the agency wanted to keep as brief as possible. Rather than tie up traffic for weeks by building the new bridge piece by piece at the site of the existing bridge, the Columbia, Mo.-based Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. would build a new bridge nearby, then slide the fully constructed structure into place. The goal was to limit traffic disruption to 20 days.

The general contractor had Atlanta-based OxBlue Corp. install one solar-powered camera to photograph the jobsite so project managers could log on and see what was happening from their headquarters more than two hours away. (MoDOT and other project partners also had unlimited access to the images online.) Division Manager Chip Jones monitored construction from his office to address errors before they grew big enough to disrupt the schedule.

“I could talk to the superintendent and really visualize what was happening on site,” he says. Ultimately, his crews slid the new bridge into place in 10 hours.

With the project complete, Jones is using archived images to show prospective clients what the firm can do. MoDOT shares the images — and many others of major construction projects — with the public at www.modot.org.

—McCormack (cmccormack@oxblue.com) is CEO of Atlanta-based OxBlue Corp.

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