Bridge jobs involve creative lifting and rigging

02 November 2017

Bridge projects, large and small, are underway throughout North America, and most of these jobs require cranes. While bridge jobs are generally longer term projects, small bridge replacement can be performed in a few days with the use of the accelerated bridge construction (ABC) process. ACT reports on a smattering of bridge jobs that have involved innovative lifting and rigging.

New Champlain Bridge

A Linden Comansa 21LC550 tower crane is working on the construction of the main pylon of the New Champlain Bridge that spans the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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A Linden Comansa 21LC550 tower crane is working on the construction of the main pylon of the Montreal’s new Champlain Bridge that spans the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Open since 1962, the existing Champlain Bridge is one of Montreal’s main road links and Canada’s busiest bridge, with an average of 136,000 crossings per day. Due to extreme climate conditions in Montreal and the use of road salt on the pavement, the bridge is suffering a progressive deterioration that maintenance and repair processes have not been able to stop.

Since 2015, the Signature on the Saint Lawrence Group, (formed by SNC-Lavalin, ACS and Hochtief), has been working on the construction of the New Champlain Bridge that is located parallel to the current bridge, which is still open to traffic. The new bridge will feature a spectacular 448-foot tall pylon that is being built with the support of the 21LC550 crane.

The crane arrived in September 2017 and was erected on the deck of the bridge with a height under hook of 222 feet. When the work of the crane ends, the crane will be 591 feet tall from the base of the pylon and 403 feet from the deck of the bridge. The 21LC550 has maximum load capacity of 55,120 pounds. It will lift precast concrete structures and formwork panels.

Before the tower crane was erected, Sarens was on the project installing 38 footings that weighed between 600 and 1,000 metric tons. Sarens developed the Floating Foundation Installer (FFI), a self-propelled catamaran that can lift, transport and install the foundations.

“The Champlain Bridge Project was challenging from the start,” said Mike Hussey, regional director of North America for Sarens. “A special installation vessel had to be designed because standard lifting systems could not handle the combination of the following factors: strong current, high weights and specific dimensions of footing elements, very accurate positioning of footing elements in the river and shallow draft of the St. Lawrence River. With these specific factors in mind, we designed the Sarens FFI.

The FFI’s design includes a thruster system for moving in high current, a winch system for positioning of barge above foundations; a strand jack system for lifting and lowering of footings; a circular rail system for rotation of the footing elements, and a skidding system for precision position of the footing elements.

“With the addition of a global team of operational specialists, we were able to flawlessly position all footings safely and within the required tolerances,” said Hussey. The New Champlain Bridge is expected to open by year-end 2018.

Texas ‘Go 10’

M-L Holdings Company Crane Group has several cranes working on the ongoing Go 10 project in El Paso, TX. Expected to be completed in 2019, Go 10 is an infrastructure reconstruction of Interstate 10 designed to improve traffic flow, vehicle capacity and safety along the I-10 corridor.

This portion of I-10 was identified as a high priority corridor by the U.S. Congress as part of the larger Camino Real Corridor. Rapid growth has occurred in recent years in the project vicinity. Traffic projections and land use patterns suggest that expansion will continue within the I-10 corridor, according to Joe Estrada, project manager, Crane Service Inc., a division of M-L Holdings Group.

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Crane Service Inc. has seven cranes, including six ATs and one crawler, working on the ‘Go 10’ project in El Paso, TX.

To accommodate such rapid expansion on I-10, multiple high traffic existing bridges and roads had to be demolished and removed before construction could begin. New bridges had to be built. Crane Service Inc. and partners were tasked with the job of setting the multitude of bridge beams. The beams measured up to 163 feet long and weighed as much as 88 tons.

The demands of setting so many beams near live traffic, and under live power lines, required extensive coordination and attention to detail between all team members, Estrada said.

Timing and safety were critical as all cranes needed to be torn down and moved daily to keep the traffic flowing. The project required the team to work around the clock and during scheduled road closures, generally 9 pm. to 4 a.m., to accommodate rush hour traffic.

To set the beams, Crane Service Inc. and its partners utilized a combination of 200 to 550-ton capacity hydraulic all-terrain cranes, as well as 160-ton capacity crawler cranes in both single and tandem lifts. Working under existing overpasses and around live traffic required extensive planning and careful consideration of crane locations. Setting up cranes in areas such as flood control arroyos during extensive rain and flash flooding was just one of the many technical aspects of the project.

“No project is without its challenges in scheduling, site logistics and hoisting,” said Estrada. “What has made the difference in the ongoing success of this project is the phenomenal team that has been assembled by our valued customer. Precise planning and close communication have been the cornerstone of this endeavor.”

Cranes on the project included a 210-ton Link-Belt ATC3210, a 250-ton Link-Belt ATC3250, a 275-ton Link-Belt ATC3275, a 300-ton Terex AC 250-1, a 400-ton Terex AC 350/6, a 550-ton Grove GMK7550 in mega wing lift configuration and a 160-ton Kobelco CK1600-II.

ABC in Edmonton

Mammoet has successfully delivered on a first-of-its-kind project in Western Canada. The safe lift, transport and placement of a bridge structure took place at the end of May 2017 in Edmonton for Supreme Group. The structure weighed 385 metric tons and measured 57.25 meters long, 11.4 meters wide and was 4.3 meters tall.

Mammoet used the Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) method, which allowed for the structure to be assembled away from the bridge foundation in a small construction area. ABC is safer and more efficient than conventional bridge construction, the company said. It removes hazards associated with working near traffic and eliminates the need for working at heights. It minimizes congestion and traffic delays that would be associated with traditional construction methods.

Three cranes navigated the small construction site to lift the bridge structure and set it on 24 lines of self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) for transport and placement. A short execution window between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. was given for the execution of the project. During this time the roadway was closed to allow for safe passage of the SPMT. A smooth, swift operation moved the bridge structure into place and set it on its abutments within the allotted time. Subsequently, the road was opened again, ready for morning traffic.

Interstate 75 modernization

Dan’s Excavating of Shelby Charter Township, MI purchased three 130-ton Link-Belt 228 HSLs and one 200-ton Link-Belt 248 HSL lattice crawler crane to work on the Interstate 75 (I-75) Modernization Project in Oakland County, as well as several other ongoing road and bridge projects in the area. The 228 HSL was of particular interest to Irv Rupersburg, equipment operations manager.

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Two Link-Belt cranes, a 248 HSL and a 248 Hylab 5, are placing 144 foot beams for the bridge widening at Square Lake Road. 

“We looked at the crane’s parameters for a 50 to 60 feet working radius, with the crane boom being about 120 to 130 feet long,” said Rupersburg. “We knew we would be lifting between 50,000 and 80,000 pounds and we found the 228 HSL chart outperforming others in the field. Our common beams may be 86 to 100 feet in length.”

Infrastructure spending on Michigan roads is near an all-time high. For fiscal year 2015-2016, spending was up $171 million to $3.8 billion. Fiscal year 2017 is on a similar projection with the new Interstate 75 Modernization Project set to upgrade and improve a highly trafficked area that accommodates nearly 23,000 businesses within a 9-square mile area in the Detroit suburbs.

The first of eight segments of the I-75 Modernization Project for Oakland County is 2.69 miles and will include an HOV/general lane in both directions and an extensive reconfiguration of the Square Lake Road interchange. Adams Road includes eight bridge crossings each up to 144 feet in length. The smaller bridges are common throughout the state and are preferred over a longer sub-contracted fly-over bridge.

The 228 HSL operator Bart Fraser tandem hoisted nine 86 foot pre-stressed concrete bulb-tee beams with another 120-ton lattice crawler crane. With 135 feet of boom, and using 4-part line, the 228 HSL picks and swings 45 degrees while walking to the pier placement with just one foot clearance on each side of the tracks between the pier and concrete barricades. Then, shorter tail spans, measuring 45 feet long and weighing 33,000 pounds were lifted and placed at a 50 foot radius.

The 248 HSL along with a 248 Hylab 5, are placing 144 foot beams for the bridge widening at Square Lake Road. The heaviest beams come in at 73,000 pounds and are lifted at a 33 foot radius with both cranes working on top of an abutment lowering the 6 foot tall girder.


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