Gateway Western Railroad, Blue Springs, MO

Project Name: Gateway Western Railroad
Project Address: Adams Dairy Parkway ; Blue Springs, Missouri

It was a simple request of an architect. Design a railroad bridge that becomes part of its surroundings, will withstand a train derailment at 40 miles per hour, and will be visually pleasing to vehicles passing under the bridge. The visual goal was a look of real stone. Grouted stone, however, would not tolerate the vibrations of the train crossing the bridge.

The decorative elements of the bridge must be precast. It would be difficult, at best, to form the tapered columns to precisely meet the design dimensions. Once the decision to use precast was made, many other design features fell into place, from the bottom up. The precast shell influenced the construction of the foundation of the piers which were cast in place.

The façade must complement the necessary retaining walls that surround the bridge. The piers must be innovative in architecture and design and aesthetically pleasing. The support must be substantial but not obtrusive. When complete the piers tower 52’ above the surface of the road.

Precast panels were manufactured to meet the color and texture required by the architect in weather conditions not suitable for site construction. Form liners were used to create the stone appearance. Color was added to the mix to fit in with the native environment.

Panels were poured indoors through the winter months to prepare for delivery to the site as soon as weather conditions allowed. The first precast pieces were installed on December 23, 2002, a formidable season and climate for pouring concrete in the Midwestern region.

The cross beams were designed to create a form for the interior of the columns, which were filled with heavily reinforced concrete, as well as creating the substructure for the electrical elements. Flat panels were produced to create a continuous shell for the bridge piers and columns.

The three-sided precast column sections were set on top of the bridge piers. The columns were reinforced to meet the railroad requirement to withstand a derailment at 40 miles per hour.

The street-side of the columns are finished with copper panels. When the road construction is complete, and when dusk is settling on the horizon vehicles will approach a fiber optics illumination system projecting a rainbow of changing colors.