How one precaster used a licensed product to merge two disciplines and create a beautiful bridge for one of the nation’s most important cemeteries.
By Bridget McCrea
When Arlington National Cemetery’s Millennium Project opened to the public in 2018, four years of planning, designing, and building came together to add 27 acres of land, 6,000 pre-dug graves, and 16,000 niche wall burial spaces to the 154-year-old cemetery.
The cemetery hadn’t been expanded in nearly 40 years and was slowly running out of room to honor and memorialize America’s military veterans. At a cost of about $81.7 million, the expansion space was assembled using a recreation spot for a nearby military base, a construction staging area for the cemetery, and National Park Service woodland.
Precast concrete played a key role in the project, including two ECO-SPAN arch bridges, one of which is a 42-foot span twin-leaf Versa Series bridge that carries Loop Road over a restored stream.
Featuring an open, long-span arch, the bridge protected the stream throughout construction to minimize any disturbance. The arch was designed to support up to 13 1/2 feet of earth cover.
Mechanically stabilized earth retaining walls with natural stone facing hold the backfill in place both over and around the arch.
Getting to work
Faddis Concrete Products worked with Forrester Construction and GeoConstructors to bring the project to fruition.
“We submitted a substantial amount of information to the Army Corps of Engineers to prove our capability of performing on this project,” said Gary Figallo, product manager at Faddis Concrete Products. “They even came to our Kutztown plant to approve us as a fabricator.”
Faddis was issued a license from ECO-SPAN’s PreTek Group and built 12 total units, four of which weighed more than 15 tons. Using the licensed product and a standard form to cast the bridge, they constructed the base plate (in the shape of the arch panels), and handled the cutting, welding and fabrication of the base plate. In total, the precaster made 24 arch leaves that were used to develop 12 complete arch segments, each of which comprised a left and a right leaf.
Figallo said the site topography made the project tricky, with a steep slope down to the stream. Two large truck cranes were positioned adjacent to one another, one needing to reach across the stream to set the arch on the far side. The cemetery site is very wet and muddy, for example, and the slope leading down the stream (where the arches were installed) had to be paved with crushed stone for the trucks that needed to navigate up and down the slope. Two large hydraulic cranes were positioned on one side of the creek bed and used to lift the arch leaves in the air one at a time, rotate them and then orient them for installation.
Clarence Mauser, plant manager at Faddis Concrete, said this was the first time the company had built a twin-leaf arch bridge.
“Our part of the project took about four weeks,” he noted. “We built everything, stored the units on trailers and when the job site was ready, all we had to do was pull the trailers in.”
A good marriage
According to Figallo, the final product was well received by the project owner. The precaster has since performed other work for the Corps, and always appreciates the “stamp of approval” that it receives on those successful projects.
“We were really humbled and proud to be part of the Arlington National Cemetery facility,” said Figallo, who sees licensed products as a good investment for precasters like Faddis. “Our expertise is in precasting concrete, and ECO-SPAN’s expertise is in engineering. It’s a good marriage of two different disciplines.”
Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who covers manufacturing, industry and technology. She is a winner of the Florida Magazine Association’s Gold Award for best trade-technical feature statewide.