Case Studies

Iowa Bridge and Culvert LLC: Making the Impossible Possible

  • Written by: Iowa Bridge and Culvert LLC: Making the Impossible Possible
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Iowa Bridge and Culvert LLC (IBC) started out in 1949 as a small team of hardworking professionals with a can-do attitude toward making the impossible possible. Today the company is one of the Midwest’s leading bridge and culvert construction specialists, which is good news considering recent reports show Iowa places third in the nation for bridges in need of repair or replacement. IBC’s fondness for challenging projects with tight turnarounds has come to define the company’s history, but it is the team’s ability to work closely and safely with one another that continues to fuel growth.

“Whether it’s new construction or a total rehabilitation, we can do the vast majority of the work ourselves,” asserts Burge Hammond, vice president and co-owner of IBC. The company is based out of Washington, Iowa, but its expertise in bridge and box culvert construction pulls IBC as far away as Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, where IBC maintains a regional outpost as well.

The company started out as a specialist in box and culvert construction, but the need to diversify its client base propelled IBC to expand with ancillary services. Hammond estimates that 60 to 70 percent of IBC’s work on average is dedicated to bridge construction and repairs, but the company is also experienced in building storm water and drainage infrastructure for wastewater treatment plants and other industrial applications.

IBC also maintains the capabilities to handle demolition, retaining wall construction, pile driving, rail installation, core drilling and some concrete construction. The only things IBC doesn’t tackle with in-house talent are major paving and earthwork or any peripheral electrical work, in which case the company reaches out to a network of local contacts to find the most qualified partner.

Hammond officially purchased the company with two additional co-owners and vice presidents: Brian Uitermarkt and Curt Hanson. “I started working here in high school, back when Curt and I were on the same swim team,” recalls Hammond. Hammond and Uitermarkt have both been at IBC for over 26 years. The trio has grown the company’s payroll to spike at over 200 employees during busy years, but IBC invests internally to keep a close-knit feel.

Making History

IBC always works with outside and inside specialists to ensure the safety and well-being of every employee, as the company considers its staff to be the backbone of its many years of success. IBC is a member of the Iowa Chapter of the Associated General Contractors, which provides the team with additional support in the form of safety training courses, safety consultations and craft training. IBC also offers employees benefits like health insurance, life insurance and paid vacation, which has helped the company retain many of its employees for over 10 years.

The past decade has been an eventful one for many states in the Midwest. IBC was called in to help repair the historic Charles City Suspension Bridge in 2008 after a major flood caused the span to collapse into the Cedar River. “We had previously completed some repairs to the bridge in 2007, but a 2008 flash flood just took a whole section down,” expands Hammond.

Of course, replacing the pedestrian crossing in its exact form would be a timely and costly process, so the city of Charles City, Iowa, opted to use a prefabricated, cable-stayed bridge to keep costs under control. The city also opted to widen the span of the bridge to meet current ADA standards.

IBC is also currently contracted for the rehabilitation of another historic structure in Sutliffe, Iowa. The original bridge was built in 1909 and was decommissioned in 1981, but numbers itself among one of the longest Parker Truss-style bridges remaining in the state. The flood of 2008 took the east span truss of the structure and the wood approach spans. The new east span truss is designed to be as close as possible to the original Parker Truss, but using bolt instead of rivets. The project is on schedule to be completed in fall 2012.

Rising to the Challenge

One of the most challenging projects IBC has completed to date involved an emergency repair and replacement. IBC was called in to help replace a bridge’s damaged box girder section when a tractor-trailer carrying a wind turbine base struck a bridge girder in Shreveport, La., in 2010.

“It was a major bridge for the area and we had to essentially tear it down and built it back up again in a weekend,” says Hammond. IBC served as the bridge subcontractor for Gibson & Associates with Barnhart Crane & Rigging handling all of the removal process. Gibson & Associates oversaw the replacement of the bridge’s steel beams, leaving IBC to focus on the concrete superstructure.

Hopefully the coming years will bring plenty more opportunity for the IBC team. The company is already set to complete work on a number of pump stations as part of a flood mitigation plan for the city of Coralville, Iowa, as well as work for the University of Iowa. Wherever opportunity arises the Iowa Bridge and Culvert LLC team will be standing by with the safety training, expertise and ambition to complete major infrastructural repairs on short notice and to keep commuters safe.

Published on: March 9, 2013

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