I-95 New Haven Harbor Crossing Corridor Improvement Program photo
Steel reinforcing for the concrete columns for the new Q-Bridge east approach structure.
Construction of the new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in the Nutmeg State forms part of the 20-contract $2 billion Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) I-95 New Haven Harbor Crossing (NHHC) Corridor Improvement Program.
The program is the largest project ever undertaken by CTDOT and not only includes the rebuilding of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge but also reconstruction of the I-95/I-91/Route 34 Interchange.
Brian Mercure, assistant district engineer at the CTDOT District 3A, described the bridge job as “definitely a unique project in the fact it involved a major interchange of two interstate highways.”
The bridge spans the Quinnipiac River and carries I-95, which forms part of the New York to Boston corridor. The bridge is now more than 60 years old and in this area carries more than 140,000 vehicles daily, more than triple the number of users for which the bridge was designed.
Initial work on the I-95 NHHC Corridor Improvement Program began in 2000 with work on State Contract 92-529, covering construction of a new commuter rail station on New Haven’s State Street. The program currently has three active infrastructure projects:
• State Contract No. 92-532 (Contract B) Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge (Q Bridge), $649.4 million. Prime general contractor is Walsh Construction Company/PCL Joint Venture II (WPJV)
• State Contract No. 92-531-622-627 (Contract E) I-95/I-91/Route 34 Interchange Reconstruction, $512.8 million. O&G Industries/Tutor Perini Corp JV (OGTPJV) is general prime contractor.
• State Project No. 92-649, Relocation of I-95 NB in the Long Wharf Area, $14 million. Prime general contractor is Empire Paving.
The new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, known locally as the Q-Bridge after the Quinnipiac River it spans, is the first extradosed vehicular bridge built in the United States and has become a model for similar bridges, as Mercure noted, adding “since the project began Minnesota and Kentucky have proposed similar structures.”
A number of benefits accrue from this type of bridge, a cross between a girder and cable-stayed bridge. For example, the Q-Bridge’s 75 ft. (23 m) high towers are lower than would be needed for a cable-stayed bridge, an important design consideration given the proximity of the flight path for Tweed New Haven Airport.
Construction of the new Q-Bridge began in 2008 and is scheduled to be completed in 2015. The interchange reconstruction started in 2011, with a scheduled completion date in 2016.
The main equipment in use on the bridge project is cranes setting structural steel and driving precast piles. They include a Manitowoc 14000 300 ton (272 t) crane and a M250 300 ton crane from the same manufacturer. Seven other cranes are working on the project performing demolition, pile driving and steel erection. All equipment is retrofitted with emissions controls.
With 500 personnel working on the program, including but not limited to contractors, construction inspection and office personnel, the project has significantly increased jobs in the New Haven area, thereby supporting the local economy.
However, it has not been without challenges.
“One of the unique tasks on the project is overall coordination between contractors. Stage changes on the projects all have to take place on the various projects at the same time. While it is normally challenging to do a stage change on one project, there is a greater challenge doing it with multiple contractors on multiple projects. Fortunately the coordination efforts have worked out and the stage changes have gone smoothly,” Mercure said. “Other challenges the program faced were the magnitude and length of the construction, which resulted in the project being constructed through several contracts.
“In addition, while the original Q-Bridge was built in three years, the new bridge will take approximately seven. The reason for this is when the original bridge was built there were no major traffic interruptions like there are now. The I-95 NHHC Corridor Improvement Program limits all traffic obstructions and detours, and is committed to keeping traffic moving normally during daytime hours. All bridge work requiring interchange closure occurs at night.
“Trying to construct the bridge and interchange while maintaining an average daily traffic of 140,000 motorists is always a challenge,” he added.
Northbound lanes of the new bridge were opened to traffic in June 2012, several months ahead of schedule. In July of 2013, a major milestone for the program occurred as a traffic shift moved I-95 SB traffic off the old Q-Bridge, allowing for demolition to occur and begin construction for the southbound barrel of the new Q-Bridge.
The public may sign up for weekly updates by visiting www.i95newhaven.com and further information about the program can be obtained from the Public Information Office at CTDOT District 3A Office, at 203/752-1996 or firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the Program Web site at www.i95newhaven.com.
CTDOT currently is working on a number of projects, which in Connecticut include the new Sikorsky Bridge spanning the Housatonic River, the Baldwin Bridge over the Connecticut River, the Route15/Route 11 single point interchange, and the I-95 and Route 7 interchange.