For people who travel to and from Niagara Falls using the New York State Thruway I-190 bridge system over the Niagara River, the twin bridges over NY Route 384 (Buffalo Avenue) most likely went unnoticed until recently. On September 26 to 28 and again on October 3 to 6, the two bridges were targeted for replacement due to age and deterioration. What was challenging about this construction project was that the two bridges were scheduled to be totally removed and replaced within a two-day time window. The first bridge, the northbound lane and the one featured in this article, was to be completed Sunday September 28 while the second bridge was to be removed and replaced the following weekend in what NYDOT calls accelerated bridge construction techniques.
What made this project especially interesting is that the new bridges were partially constructed at a preparation site approximately one half mile west of the interstate. There CATCO workers had been busy setting truss beams on temporary piers and pouring concrete on bridge decks that would eventually comprise the primary structure for each of the two bridges. Ultimately, when the beams would be placed at their final location, crews would fill the spaces between the sections with quick-setting concrete, filling the voids and completing the driving surface. Today, those projects are completed.
According to Clark Rigging Project Manager Shawn Foti, “Both bridge replacements were completed on time and traffic resumed as planned. While we did have some challenges along the way as the jobs unfolded, we were able to complete the two bridges within the 72 hour window of opportunity we were given on each one.”
“With the Terex AC 500-2, we are able to do the lifting with one crane,” said Foti. “It takes nine, tractor-trailer loads of supporting equipment to assemble the crane. That includes the crane mats, counter weights and other accessories that combine to make the AC 500-2 the best unit for the job.”
Information available on the NYDOT Facebook page said that the contract for the two bridge replacements and the rebuilding of the roadway beneath the bridges along with the necessary, temporary bypass construction that would be needed to facilitate the bridge work, was awarded in May 2013. Buffalo Avenue, in the City of Niagara Falls in Niagara County, was to be closed for approximately three weeks for that work to take place. Photos on the Facebook page, chronicle the construction of the new bridge piers beneath I-190 and behind existing piers and show how workers built forms for concrete pours of the bridge decking segments that would find their way to the finished project. The project is comprised of the bridge repairs and the replacement of Buffalo Avenue between 63rd and 65th Streets. The cost of the project was listed as $7.7 million.
Meanwhile, CATCO crews were busy building the new bridge sections at a location west of the construction site, setting steel beams on temporary bridge piers for building concrete decking atop the beams for their eventual move to their permanent home on I-190.
While Hard Hat News was present on September 26 for the initial beam lifts and the movement and placement of the first of six beams at their destination on I-190 N.B., the work unfolded in a well-choreographed manner, with new work taking place at the same time the old bridge structure was being demolished. Having started at midnight the morning of the 27th, by the time we arrived at the jobsite around noon, CATCO workers had demolished and removed just about all of the old bridge. All that remained was the final support pier. With some precision jack hammering with an excavator-mounted hammer, and a final push with an excavator positioned atop the bridge abutment to the south, the last of the existing concrete from the old bridge came toppling down. The crew immediately went to work to break up and remove those remaining pieces. Earlier in the day, CATCO workers removed the steel beam undergirding, sheared from the decking, then moved to an area where it could be safely loaded onto flatbeds for removal.
Foti, who works out of the Western New York, Lockport Headquarters for Clark Rigging, said that this was the first project of its kind, with the beams having been built close to the project in this way. While setting beams and bridge segments is regular routine for Clark Rigging, this series of events was a new way of doing the job. With each of the beams being 100-feet long and weighing 65 tons, extreme care was essential for each of the lifts.
Nevertheless, they were able to erect the bridges over the course of the two weekend projects, successfully. As subcontractors to CATCO, Clark Rigging, working with Contour Steel and L.C. Whitford Co., Inc. trucking, together they got the job done safely and on time. For more information on Clark Rigging, visit their website at www.clarkrigging.com.