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$220M Maumee River Bridge Marks Largest Investment in State History

Mon January 17, 2005 - Midwest Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

A major bridge project in Ohio is currently about 75 percent complete, according to Joe Rutherford of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) District Two Office of Public Information. The $220 million project crosses the Maumee River in Toledo.

Work began in March of 2002, and the completion date is currently set for Fall 2006. Rutherford explained that the project involves building a new precast, segmental concrete cable-stayed bridge on Interstate 280 over the Maumee River.

The new bridge will replace the Craig Memorial Bridge, which is one of a few remaining lift-span bridges on the U.S. Interstate System. The old bridge consists of four lanes. The new span will be a six-lane interstate between Interstate 75 and State Route 2.

According to Rutherford, major remaining work items include the pylon (190 vertical ft. of construction remains) and the construction of the remaining approach spans, ramp spans and the main span.

At the groundbreaking ceremony in May 2001, Governor Bob Taft said, “The Maumee River Crossing project will provide a vital link from the Port of Toledo to all points beyond. By eliminating the bottleneck caused by the Craig Memorial Life Bridge, the new river crossing will expedite traffic into and through Toledo, further strengthening the city’s economy.”

The overall project, which is divided into seven phases, is the largest transportation investment in ODOT history. It will also be the second tallest structure in northwest Ohio, reaching 400 ft. The tallest structure, the Owen-Illinois Building, is 440 ft. tall.

Several other features make this bridge unique. For example, it is the first bridge in the world with glass panels in the pylon. The panels will be lit internally by over 350 LED lighting fixtures, offering limitless color options.

In addition, the project represents the first use of stainless steel stay cable sheathing in the United States and the first use of a “cradle” (the manner in which the cables pass through the pylon) in the world. The bridge also holds the world record for the largest bundle of stay cables ever successfully tested (156 strands).

The stainless-steel stay-cable cradle system enables the bridge’s 20 stay cables to pass through the pylon rather than be anchored to it. This results in a sail-like appearance to the bridge.

The innovative system then separates each individual strand that comprises each cable, which prevents corrosion and prolongs the bridge’s life. Each cable consists of a bundle of smaller epoxy-coated steel strands ranging from 82 to 156 strands. Each stay cable will be housed inside a stainless steel sheathing, which contributes to durability and an enhanced finished appearance.

According to ODOT, the replacement of the aging bridge and the inadequate roadway through Toledo was identified as the number one transportation priority in northwest Ohio in 1988.

At that time, the cities of Oregon and Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) and ODOT worked together to form the Maumee River Crossing Task Force.

The group pursued the project for the next ten years. The actual structure, a cable-stayed, single pylon, segmental concrete box beam bridge, was chosen by the community through a series of public meetings.

The bridge’s support structure consists of a series of 181 reinforced concrete piers constructed above 8-ft. diameter drilled shaft foundations. The foundations, some as deep as 100 ft., contain an epoxy-coated reinforcing steel cage and high-strength concrete.

Funding for the project consists mainly of federally-funded grants and line item federal money.

The new bridge is 8,800 ft. long, with a 1,225-ft. main span over the Maumee River. Rutherford noted that the project’s concrete pylon will be 400 ft. tall, above the water level of the river, and will allow a 120-ft. vertical clearance and 400-ft. wide shipping channel for maritime traffic. The project includes 185,000 cu. yds. of concrete and 3,057 precast concrete roadway segments, each weighing between 60 and 100 tons.

“The major challenge on this project is the safe maintenance of traffic through six different work zones with four different contractors [working on the bridge’s approaches under separate contracts],” Rutherford explained. “Another challenge is trying to coordinate lane closures and full closures while minimizing the inconvenience of the traveling public.”

The prime contractor for the project is Fru-Con Construction, Ballwin, MO, with Dave Herron serving as project director.

Currently, approximately 250 people are involved in the project. Major subcontractors include E.S. Wagner, Oregon, OH, substructure work; U.S. Utility, Perrysburg, OH, electrical; Safeway Barricade, Northwood, OH, traffic maintenance; Dywidag-Systems International USA Inc., Bolingbrook, IL, post tensioning; Ironhead Fabricating, Temperance, MI, steel fabricating; and Bowser-Morner Inc., materials testing.

Major equipment used on the job includes various launching trusses, a Liebherr 281 HC tower crane, a Manitowoc 4100 crawler crane, a Manitowoc 2250 crawler cranes, two PdN 115-ton straddle cranes, a Grove RT 9130 mobile crane, a Grove RT 635C mobile crane, a Terex RT 555 mobile crane, a Cat 345 backhoe, a John Deere 644H wheel loader, and a Cat IT28G wheel loader.

(This story also can be found on Construction Equipment Guide’s Web site at CEG

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