By Kirk Stelsel
Precast concrete walls, bridges, barriers and more have long been staples of our nation’s infrastructure due to their durability, dependability, quality and ease of installation. Strong and silent soldiers, precast elements dutifully do their job but go largely unnoticed as they blend into roadway landscapes.
In recent years, though, a new trend has elevated these vital components to so much more than just, well, dependable infrastructure. Forward-thinking transportation agencies and municipalities have begun using precast concrete components with integral colors, custom finishes, insets and more to significantly improve the aesthetics of our daily surroundings, in addition to providing structural service.
In Florida, for example, highway sound walls now come to life with inset regional wildlife such as manatees, alligators, fish and flamingos. Other states have chosen designs that reflect the local culture through the use of colors, shapes, or form-liner finishes and coloring that mimic the look of natural stone or wood textures – all with the long service life of precast concrete.
Precast concrete bridges can convey a community’s architectural style and enhance our environment as well – while serving their primary purpose of spanning everything from gullies to gorges. Whether the product you need is a short-span bridge or a comprehensive solution that can traverse a major river, precast can provide the attractive, long-lasting design you need.
Across the map, State DOTs and road agencies are gaining public approval and strong support for custom precast infrastructure treatments that make our daily commutes a more pleasant experience. The choice of precast concrete infrastructure with beautiful finishes is nearly endless – roundabouts, MSE walls, and even permanent median barriers with architectural finishes and plantings. To see what precast concrete can do for you, visit http://precast.org/precast-possibilities.
Kirk Stelsel is NPCA’s assistant director of Communication.