The Utah Department of Transportation is taking what it calls “significant steps” to protect the waters of the Starvation Reservoir during a U.S. 40 bridge renovation project in Duchesne County.

[Above photo by the Utah DOT]

The agency noted in a statement that the project’s contractor designed special “catch buckets” to capture demolition debris from the bridge to prevent them from entering the reservoir’s waters.

Excavators lower those 16-foot catch buckets, which are then affixed to the backside of the bridge’s barrier or parapet walls. Outfitted with rubber bumpers to provide a secure seal to the wall and to protect against damage to the existing infrastructure, the bottom of the bucket extends to fit under the bridge deck to capture bridge demolition debris.

The Utah DOT noted that the pan located on the bottom of the bucket is watertight and provides connections to a vacuum port, which pumps out the captured water and slurry materials into a vacuum trailer without any of it leaking into the waterway below.

All demolished materials are transported offsite to be recycled or disposed of in the landfill, the agency said. Duchesne County also plans to recycle the demolished bridge concrete for use as base material for future road projects.

In addition to capturing construction debris, Utah is using other procedures to protect both the project’s workers and the surrounding area. For example, crews working near or around the edge of the bridge are required to be in a harness and tethered to the bridge to prevent falling. That includes their tool and equipment as well – especially concrete saws – to prevent them from dropping into the waterway below. Finally, in case of unforeseen emergencies, the Utah DOT developed a water rescue plan for the project that includes life-preserving flotation devices and a rescue boat.