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American Bridge Rehabilitates East Haddam Swing Bridge

Thu March 23, 2023 - Northeast Edition #7
Irwin Rapoport – CEG Correspondent


Planning for the project goes back several years and CTDOT has held several public meetings to discuss the project. State and federal funds are financing the project.
Planning for the project goes back several years and CTDOT has held several public meetings to discuss the project. State and federal funds are financing the project.
Planning for the project goes back several years and CTDOT has held several public meetings to discuss the project. State and federal funds are financing the project. The project includes the replacement of Span 1 deck stringer and Span 2 deck and floor system, and more.
(Photo courtesy of American Bridge Company.) American Bridge Company (AB) is rehabilitating the East Haddam Swing Bridge, which carries Route 82 over the Connecticut River and links the towns of Haddam and East Haddam.
(Photo courtesy of American Bridge Company.)

American Bridge Company (AB) is rehabilitating the East Haddam Swing Bridge, which carries Route 82 over the Connecticut River and links the towns of Haddam and East Haddam, for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT). The total project cost is $78.4 million, with the AB contract valued at $55.2 million.

The bridge that was constructed in 1913 by American Bridge is a four-span structure with a west-east orientation. It consists of a fixed deck truss in Span 1, a fixed through truss in Span 2 and a moveable through truss swing span (Spans 3 and 4).

"This project involves a major rehabilitation of the structural, mechanical and electrical components of the bridge," said Josh Morgan, CTDOT spokesperson. "A cantilevered sidewalk is being added to the south side of the bridge and approach sidewalks are being constructed, as requested by the towns. Once the bridge rehabilitation is completed, it will provide safety, access and operations for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists; a safe crossing of the Connecticut River for vehicles and pedestrians traveling on Route 82; and extend service life and improve swing operation reliability.

"The bridge was rehabilitated in 1988, 1998, 1999 and 2007," he added. "Due to significant swing-span operation problems, an emergency repair project was completed in 2016. Inspections by CTDOT's bridge safety and evaluation unit determined that the bridge is in poor condition, primarily due to the deterioration of its superstructure."

The project includes the replacement of Span 1 deck stringer and Span 2 deck and floor system, truss strengthening repairs on all spans, substructure modifications and patching, new bridge and approach rails that meet standards, operator house repairs, replacement of the generator house roof, major mechanical system upgrades, full replacement of the electrical system (including replacement of power, control and operator house telecommunication submarine cables).

A cantilevered 6-ft.-wide fiber reinforced polymer deck sidewalk structure attached to the south side of the bridge is proposed. It will connect to approach sidewalks that will extend on the west side to Little Meadow Road and on the east side to the delivery driveway at the Goodspeed Opera House.

Planning for the project goes back several years and CTDOT has held several public meetings to discuss the project. State and federal funds are financing the project.

The design was completed in 2021. Construction began in fall 2022 and should be completed in spring 2025. The project was designed by CTDOT and Hardesty & Hanover.

Some challenges include the environment surrounding the swing bridge. The Connecticut River is a natural habitat for marine life and osprey nests on the bridge truss. There are limited access points to the structure, plus marine access and vehicular traffic needs to be maintained to minimize impacts. After the project is completed, the service life of the bridge is extended 30 years.

To complete the work, 25 63-hour road closure periods with a detour of traffic have been proposed to facilitate deck and floor beam replacement in Spans 1 and 2. The signed detour route is 30 mi. long and uses the Baldwin Bridge on I-95. Overnight road closures and alternating one-way traffic patterns are helping the construction effort.

Measures also include signalized alternating one-way traffic patterns for approximately 23 weeks over the course of the three years of construction. For certain periods, the swing bridge will not be operational.

"We're ensuring that residents and business owners are informed of construction schedules and potential impacts in advance of any closures through the project website, e-mail communication, text alerts and social media posts," said Morgan. "Through live traffic cameras on the project website, the public can also see construction and traffic impacts in real time."

The construction zone runs from Little Meadow Road, continues over the ridge, and ends west of the Goodspeed Opera House.

In early February, road work took place in Haddam with American Bridge crews continuing with retaining wall construction along the southside of Route 82 and bridge abutment rehabilitation. Bridge work-wise, west abutment and Pier 1 repairs are ongoing, as well as containment setup, followed by surface prep and priming on Spans 1 and 2; installation of an overhead moveable crane on Span 2; steel priority repairs on Span 1 and 2; and repair work of the swing span mechanical system to return full functionality to swing operations.

The work is presenting many challenges.

"There is a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time" said Davin Hazirjian, AB's project manager. "Getting the initial submittals in early on was important to avoid problems with long lead time items like submarine cable and many of the mechanical components, which are forged and then machined. We are on schedule and staying ahead on our planning and procurement. We're happy with the progress and it has been a very collaborative relationship with CTDOT and their design team.

"We are about 30 miles inland from the coast, so the soil is mostly sand, but this has not presented any issues," he added. "Utilities are always a challenge, both overhead and underground, but the providers here in Connecticut have been very good to work with, and responsive in getting things moved as needed on occasion. As is typical with a rehabilitation project on an old steel bridge, lead in the paint is a factor. All the proper precautions and measures are being undertaken as part of our Lead Health and Safety Plan (LHASP) to protect our workers while they abate this hazard.

Crews were working throughout the winter.

"Temperatures don't get too extreme in Connecticut, and our union labor force is used to working in the elements all year round," said Hazirjian. "Ice flows in the river are the biggest weather-related impact we will need to plan for in the winter. We've planned our work to utilize a top-down approach where we have very little need for marine equipment, which minimizes our exposure. It's a two-lane bridge that carries vehicles in 12-foot lanes, which will be squeezed down to 6-inch shoulders when the temporary bridge rails are up. Working in single-lane closures is tight. Off the bridge, on the east approach, is tight due to the sharp curve and the proximity of the bridge to an Opera House situated on the banks of the river. Besides that, we have been fortunate to procure two decent-sized laydown yards for materials, equipment and offices.

"Our relationship with the client has been top notch," he added. "Open lines of communication have been steady since the award date. They coordinate conference calls and meetings to help resolve technical issues with their design engineers. And commercial-related items are handled very professionally and timely. It's been a pleasure."

The plan of attack for the road and bridge work is a top-down approach.

"All bridge work will be accomplished with equipment either on land or on the bridge, with nothing in the water with the exception of the dredging for submarine cables," said Hazirjian. "Laborers are working on the earthwork along both approaches, as well as substructure concrete work with the carpenters. Painters are on the bridge abating the steel by blasting and painting. The Ironworkers are right behind them doing steel repairs. The electricians have work all over the bridge and are able to bounce around un-interrupted due to the Safespan access below deck."

Safespan is a proprietary/brand name suspended scaffold system.

Equipment-wise, crews are using a Caterpillar 322 wheeled excavator, a Volvo L60H wheeled loader, a Liebherr LTM 1055-3.2 mobile crane, a custom built 25-ton gantry crane built by Moye Handling and telehandlers — a JLG 450AJ and a Genie Z45. Add to this a Tadano GR-150XL hydraulic crane.

Planning is ongoing for upcoming work.

"Our team is constantly planning ahead so that we maintain our schedule and can proactively identify any potential challenges that may arise," said Hazirjian. "Again, we're working closely with the owner, which has been a very collaborative, positive experience for us."

Supply chain issues were factored into the planning.

"The biggest concern was procuring submarine cable and machinery components, but those seem to be in the rear-view mirror now," said Hazirjian. "There doesn't seem to be supply issues with fiberglass reinforced polymer [FRP], though we do see some volatility in that market. Paint may be in issue, specifically with the zinc-based primers and then also with the pigments for the color in the topcoat finishes."

The AB management team includes a project manager, a project superintendent, project engineers, field engineers, a quality control manager, a safety representative and office manager, and interns/co-ops.

"The team is hard working and supportive," said Hazirjian. "We put in a lot of hours, and that won't be slowing down for a while. But in those hours, there is plenty of laughing and camaraderie with one another. You have to keep it light when you can, especially when you're spending more time at work with your team than you are at home with family. You can tell the surrounding community is close-knit and while we know this project is a big change for them, the community has been really welcoming to our team.

"We brought in some key foreman from previous projects to head up the first few crews," he added. "Everyone else has come from the local union halls, which has turned into a great group that are performing well and in a very safe and professional manner."

On busy days, there are approximately 13 AB employees and about six to 10 subcontractor employees on site. Regional and local subcontractors are aiding the effort.

Demolition and excavation activities should generate concrete, 500 tons of steel, asphalt, earth and rock.

New materials consist of structural steel, grid deck, soldier piles, micropiles, UHPC, bridge machinery/mechanical components, submarine cable, bridge rail (four-rail), FRP deck panels, and bridge balance blocks.

Thus far, maintenance issues have been minimal.

AB is renting all the equipment being used, which is being supplied by H.O. Penn, Sunbelt Rentals, United Rentals and Bay Crane.

"The dealerships have all been very helpful," said Hazirjian. "They have some great sales reps up here. We have corporate accounts with just about all of the dealerships mentioned, so it's just a matter of meeting the local rep when we come on to a project in a new market. They make it very easy because they are always willing to go above and beyond to get our business and keep us calling back the next time." CEG




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