Crane ballet sets bridge beams at eastern PA project

Birdsboro Bridge 025by Jon M. Casey
With bridge construction projects heading the list of DOT construction items across the nation, the replacement of one of the most deteriorated bridges in Pennsylvania comes as a welcomed event for the travelers on PA State Route 345 over the Schuylkill River and adjacent Norfolk and Southern rail tracks between Birdsboro and Exeter Township in Berks County. With the work beginning in March 2012, the $14.5 million project is well under way with completion set for June 2014.
According to GTS Technologies information, the old, 1,100-foot long bridge will be replaced with a 536-foot long, four span, composite pre-stressed concrete bulb tee beam bridge. The new bridge will have an expected service life of 75 to 100 years.
While the old bridge remains open during construction of the new span, the 8,400 vehicles per day that routinely travel across this roadway will be able to continue using the structure until the new bridge is completed. The reduced, 15 ton weight restriction on the old bridge, has changed the driving habits for commercial vehicles that once used this bridge that was built in the late 1920’s. Typically, today’s bridges of modern design are rated at 40 tons plus.
Hard Hat News visited the jobsite outside Birdsboro on July 16, 2013, where crews were awaiting the arrival of the first of five beams to be delivered for Span 3 of the four span bridge. Each span consists of five custom, pre-stressed concrete manufactured support beams laid on piers and topped with a poured concrete deck.
Spans one through four will traverse the Schuylkill River with an area between the river bridge and the railroad track bridge, devoted to replacing the former Bridge Street Ramp. The new Bridge Street access is being reconstructed on an area built up with fill on the north bank of the river.
A second, bridge will traverse the Harrisburg Line of the N&S Railroad. That structure will consist of a six beam configuration. Those beams will be similar in design, but 165-feet in length.
As the first of the 85.47 ton beams began to make its way to the jobsite, it was amazing to watch the driver from Northeast Prestressed Products, LLC backing his rig the six-tenths of a mile from U.S. Route 422, down PA State Route 345 to the ramp that descended to the causeway where two, Sautter Crane Rental, Liebherr cranes were waiting to lift the 134-foot beams into place. With the first of the beams staged and preparing to be lifted, riggers detached the ends of the beams from their articulated truck/trailer combos and as spectators and workers from J.D. Ekman watched silently, together, the two cranes began their “ballet” of lifting the day’s first beam into place.
With each beam being 33-inches wide and 87.25-inches high, riggers paled in comparison as the behemoths began their ascent to the tops of the piers. There, workers were waiting to secure them. Eventually, they would be bolted together with plates and the void between the beams would be filled with a special concrete. With the actual lift taking approximately 30 minutes per lift; it was mesmerizing to watch as the two cranes slowly and quietly lifted the beam in steady, precise unison. By day’s end, the five beams were expected to be in place. A second day of deliveries was scheduled for the beams destined for Span 4 on July 18 with the final beams being placed over the railroad right of way by late August.

Northeast Prestressed Products, LLC delivers on time
Northeast Prestressed Products, LLC and its predecessor have worked hard since 1950 to become the region’s single source for the highest quality prestressed/precast concrete bridge components. These include I-Beams, Bulb Tees, Adjacent and Spread Box Beams as well as bridge items not traditionally specified as prestressed/ precast concrete. NPP has worked to achieve innovation and cooperation among producers, contractors, engineers and owners. Their constant desire for improvement and industry growth has allowed them to become involved in some of the most extensive highway and bridge construction projects in the country. In all that Northeast Prestressed Products, LLC does, they are dedicated to flexibility and excellence. That kind of dedication keeps them on the leading edge of the concrete industry. NPP is determined to keep clients on time, on budget and in control of a project’s success.
Northeast Prestressed Products, LLC is strategically located in East Central Pennsylvania with easy access to three major interstate arteries (I-78, I-80 and I-81) allowing for expedient delivery to customers throughout the Mid Atlantic States and New England. For more information about NPP visit their website at www.nppbeams.com, e-mail them at info@nppbeams.com or give them a call at 570-385-2352.

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