by Joe Parzych
As sunny spring weather finally offers construction crews an opportunity to return to the jobsite, Stage 2 of the demolition and replacement project of the I-91 bridge over the Still Water section of the Deerfield River in Deerfield, MA, has resumed. Earlier this year, crews from J.R. Vinagro of Johnston, R.I. began demolition work on the second bridge that runs parallel to the one featured in the October 2015 issue of Hard Hat News. Previously, J.R. Vinagro had demolished that bridge in 2014, and that bridge decking was replaced last year.
The demolishing of the 8-inch thick concrete deck of the present bridge included removing the 720-foot long steel beams, demolishing the bridge piers and abutments, and disposing of the beams and concrete debris. As a part of that process, J.R. Vinagro trucked the beams to their Johnston R.I. yard where the lead paint was removed. Then, they were cut into shorter lengths to be processed at their final location, the Sims dockside shred mill plant in Rhode Island. At their destination, the mill shreds the beams for export from the seaport facility, primarily to Turkey or China. According to Vinagro executive Joseph Pasquerella, the shredded steel that Sims sends to the Chinese firms is for smelting into new steel destined for manufacturing products that are exported back to the U.S.
As the demolition crew began dismantling the current bridge, J.R.Vinagro Corporation’s superintendent Jeremy Souza, skillfully operated the company’s Caterpillar 385 C outfitted with a LaBounty 4,000 series shear to cut up the designated, unwanted beams. Turning them into shorter segments makes it much easier for handling. “The beams are in such good condition, I hate to see them cut up for scrap,” Souza said.
To aid in the removal process, a John Deere 470 G excavator, equipped with a hydraulic grapple, was positioned on the discontinued section of highway above the debris catch area. This excavator provided the means to reach down and pick up sheared beam segments before loading them onto tractor-trailer trucks for transport.
It might be noted that steel scrap is presently at a ten-year low, along with all scrap metal other than aluminum, according to the buyer at wTe®. In the case of this project, shipping costs prevented the local shredding mill operated by wTe (a few miles away in Greenfield, MA), from economically shredding and shipping the shredded bridge beam scrap. Thus, it was hauled to Sims.
Concrete debris from the demolition of abutments and piers was allowed to fall into the river within the area of the pier footings. Temporary metal docks placed in the river supported a crane to remove concrete debris from the footings and load it into dump trucks. “The last time piers were demolished on the previous bridge demo, rubble was allowed to fall within the area of the wide footings,” MA DOT engineer Joseph Burek said. “The contractor removed it with a crane, leaving the footings amazingly clean.”
One of the tools used to break up the northern bridge abutment was a Caterpillar 385 with a five cubic yard bucket. It sported a NPK H36 Ho-ram in place of the bucket to do the breaking. Meanwhile, a John Deere 470 excavator loaded the concrete rubble onto a trailer dump truck for transport to Trew Corporation’s quarry in Deerfield, MA. At the quarry, Vinagro processes the concrete debris into “Hardpak” using a portable crusher belonging to Vinagro. Magnets on the crusher remove steel rebar remnants as the concrete decking was being crushed.