Steel Road Plate Application: Trenching

A trench is a type of pit created to install underground utilities like gas, water, power and communication lines; to create foundations for building, retaining walls, and dams; and for cut-and-cover construction of tunnels. Trenches are temporary and will be backfilled with soil after construction. While a project is underway, however, it’s possible to cover a trench so that traffic may continue using the road as normal, as well as keep motorists and pedestrians safe. This might be done late at night, early in the morning, or during other non-working hours when the trench is not in use. Trenches are covered using steel road plates.

What are Steel Plates?

Steel road plates are large, flat sheets of steel most commonly used to cover potholes, excavations, trenches, damaged pedestrian walkways, and roads that are under construction. They are also used along trench boxes during excavation for utility construction and repair. The purpose of a road plate is to provide a temporary surface for traffic to pass over while construction is underway. In addition, this creates a safe environment for workers, pedestrians, and motorists in the area.

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Road plates, also known as trench plates, essentially “cover” trenches. To accomplish this in the safest and most effective manner, it’s important to choose the right plate dimensions for each specific trench. A good rule of thumb is for traffic traveling 44 mph or less, there should be a 12” overlap of the steel road plate on either side of the trench. For traffic traveling 45 mph or more, the overlap should be at least 24” on either side of the trench. This overlap ensures that if the steel road plate shifts, the trench will remain firmly covered and traffic accidents won’t occur.

As with all road projects, consult a structural engineer and conduct full site surveys before beginning construction. A steel road plate’s proper size, thickness and deployment plan will need to be formally assessed by a qualified professional to meet all state and local requirements for bridging an excavation site.

Size Options

There are many common size options for steel road plates, including those listed here:

4×4, 4×6, 4×8, 4×10, 4×12, 4×16, 5×8, 5×10, 5×12, 5×16, 6×8, 6×10, 6×12, 6×16, 8×10, 8×12, 8×16, 8×20. Typically steel plate thickness options include 0.500”, 0.750”, 1.00”, 1.25”, 1.50”, 1.75”, and 2.00”.

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