Amite River Bridge Rebuild Stays on Course

Tue September 22, 2009 - Southeast Edition
Zoie Clift

Setting precast girders using trestle while the Amite River is at flood stage.
Setting precast girders using trestle while the Amite River is at flood stage.



The historic Amite River bridge is in the midst of being rebuilt in Livingston Parish in Denham Springs, La.

The bridge was originally constructed starting in 1932 with the westbound span. The eastbound span was built in 1961. The current project, which is slated to cost $29.5 million, entails construction of two 2,900 ft. (884 m) girder-span bridges — one eastbound and one westbound — across the Amite River.

James Construction Group LLC, Baton Rouge, La., was awarded the project by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDOT).

The project began with Phase I, construction of the new westbound bridge. Phase II will encompass construction of the eastbound bridge. The project started in November 2007 and is estimated to be completed in December 2010.

The 1.2 mi. (1.93 km) project, which is being built to the north of the existing bridges, goes along U.S. 190 beginning at La. 426 (Old Hammond Highway) and ending around 0.25 mi. (0.4 km) west of South River Road. According to LDOT, nearly 26,000 vehicles use this section per day.

“The primary challenge on this project is the site’s flood-prone geography,” said Danny Hester, COO of James Construction Group, a heavy civil, industrial, and environmental construction company. “The crew addressed this challenge early in the project, constructing a stabilized work road built to a 27-foot elevation. The work road allowed the structure crew unlimited access to all areas adjacent to the new bridge structures, even during the wetter months. It was also designed to provide a reliable means of transporting the company’s equipment out of the basin on short notice. The road was put to the test during Hurricane Gustav — and two weeks later, during Hurricane Ike — when Baton Rouge-area flood waters caused the Amite River to crest at 36 feet, completely covering the work road with rushing water. After the waters subsided, the work road was nearly unaffected, so the project crew was able to continue work on the bridge structure immediately.”

According to Hester the crew also constructed a 273-ft.-long (83.2 m) temporary trestle bridge across the Amite River, which provided an avenue for the cranes being used in executing the project. This trestle allowed workers close proximity to the bridge with the 999 crane in order to maneuver the heavy piles and girders and to transport materials into and out of the job site area — an advantage during the approach of Hurricane Gustav.

According to LDOT, each span will have two 12-ft. (3.6 m) lanes, a 10-ft. (3 m) outside shoulder and a 4-ft. (1.2 m) inside shoulder. The contractor will maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction throughout the duration of the project.

Equipment being used on the project includes a 14000 Manitowoc, a 999 Manitowoc, a 10000 Manitowoc, a 4800 Bidwell screed, a 148 ft. (45 m) pump truck, Cat D-6 dozers, Cat D-5 dozers, 312 backhoes, 335 backhoes, motorgraders, and 660 JLG lifts with tracks.

According to Hester, the 14000 and 999 cranes were used in driving 36-in. (91 cm) concrete pile ranging from 70 to 118 ft. (21.3 to 35.9 m) in length and 1,000 lbs. (454 kg) per foot. They also were used for setting the 100-ft.-long (30 m) Type IV concrete girders that weighed 83,000 lbs. (37,368 kg) each. These cranes used the D-100 and D-125 pile-driving hammers with working loads of 72,000 to 83,000 lbs. (32,658 to 37,648 kg). The 10000 Manitowoc crane was used to set caps, diaphragms, overhang systems (decking and rebar) and support the resteel and ongoing deck operations.

The company used a 4800 Bidwell screed to pave the 42.8 ft. (13 m) roadway, with a 148 ft. pump truck to place the concrete. Cat D-6 and D-5 dozers and 312 and 335 backhoes were used on embankments and roadway work. Motorgraders also were used on the site, as well as 660 JLG lifts with tracks, the latter used to work under bridge decks and over the river.

The company has 30 employees working on this project, divided into one pile-driving crew, two carpenter crews, one dirt crew, one survey crew and two office personnel. The project team works five-day weeks (four 10-hour days and one 8-hour day).

Current work on the project includes driving production piles (concrete posts) to support the new bridge (270 production piles are scheduled for the job) pouring bridge caps (a total of 60), pouring the bridge’s deck, installing bridge girders (a total of 348 girders are being used) and building the new bridge’s approaches. So far, the structure crew has driven 75 percent of the 36-in. (91.4 cm) pile, poured 75 percent of the pile caps, hung 75 percent of the Type IV girders and completed 70 percent of the deck pours.

The road crew has completed the Phase I detour roads and installed the Phase I roadway embankments. Overall, the project is 64 percent complete.

In September, the project team shifted traffic from the old westbound bridge to the new westbound bridge, at which point the former will be demolished and Phase II construction will begin.

(Editor’s Update: The contractor demolished the bridge in September. Click here for a video of the demolition. http://www.dotd.la.gov/administration/public_info/projects/us190-amite/ Keep reading Construction Equipment Guide for updates on this and other projects across the country.)

CEG