Crews Begin Replacing Troup-Howell Span

Wed December 29, 2004 - National Edition
Mary Reed

The Western Gateway Project in Rochester, upstate New York, is an ambitious $85-million effort to rebuild Route I-490 from a western suburban stretch of the Erie Canal to the Genesee River in downtown Rochester. During the job, bridges over the highway will be rebuilt, noise barriers constructed, vehicle monitoring and traffic condition announcement equipment installed and landscaping improved.

The project has reached the stage of replacing the approximately 50-year-old eight-span Troup-Howell Bridge, which crosses the Genesee River in the city with a three-member steel arch structure. In 1955, 16,000 vehicles a day used the bridge. This has now risen to approximately l00,000 vehicles daily, with a currently projected figure of l05,000 vehicles a day.

Prime general contractor is Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc., headquartered in Plain, WI. Its mid-Atlantic operations office, located in Hanover, MD, is managing the project and is hiring New York companies, suppliers, and workers for the job.

“Kraemer will supervise all subcontractors and vendors along with self-performing much of the work, including steel erection,” said Dale Thiemann, Kraemer’s senior project manager supervising the project. “The job will be completed in three phases: substructure this year, steel erection for two arches next year [2005], and construction of the final arch in year three [2006]. We plan to eliminate working from the water as much as possible by leaving the existing bridge up while the steel arches are erected and using it as a platform,” he said.

Rochester, NY-based Bergmann Associates will handle inspection and public relations support for the job. Manitou Concrete, also of Rochester, NY, is supplying concrete, while earthwork, drainage, and paving will be done by Difiore Construction, also headquartered in the city. Rebar — supplied by Whittiacre Engineering of Syracuse, NY — will be installed by G & J Contracting of Hemlock, NY. Electrical subcontractor for the project is O’Connell Electric of Victor, NY, drilling and blasting of anchor keys was performed by Nothnagle Enterprises, based in Scottsville, NY, and High Steel of Lancaster, PA, handled structural steel fabrication.

History of the Bridge

The original Troup-Howell Bridge took its name from the streets at each end, which honored Robert Troup, a lawyer and land agent for a prominent local family during the pioneer period, and Nathaniel Howell, who served as a judge and legal advisor to land companies in the city’s early days.

Constructed between 1953 and 1955 at a cost of $2.69 million, this bridge was a six-lane steel cantilevered multi-span structure. At 109 ft. (33.2 m) wide and 1,175 ft. (358 m) long it was the 11th highway bridge to be constructed over the Genesee River in Rochester, as well as its largest at the time.

The history of the structure has not been without incident. According to the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) project history, the bridge was informally opened December 1954 amid concern about traffic congestion, even though it had not received its final asphalt surface. Use of de-icing salt during the following winter damaged the deck, which had to be repaired before its wearing surface could be added. The bridge was officially opened June 1955. On that occasion, the first person to cross was the leader of the Fourth Ward, while the first commercial vehicle to travel over the new bridge belonged to a local furniture company. However, four years later preventative maintenance was needed and the following year (1960), the bridge deck was rehabilitated and the structure painted.

In 1970, concrete fell from the bridge, causing damage to cars in a parking lot beneath its west end, and in 1971 the structure was closed for two years while it was widened to eight lanes and renovation carried out. The latter involved the addition of new structural steel and placement of a new deck.

There the situation remained until 1993, when NYSDOT began studies for the Gateway Project, in the course of which the bridge was evaluated. Although judged to be in fair condition, there was some concern about the condition of its drainage system as well as the state of its deck and various other components. After further investigation established it would be extremely costly to make necessary repairs, replace the deck, and update the bridge to meet seismic standards, these problems — plus the NYSDOT’s wish for a half-century life — brought about the decision to replace the bridge.

The New Bridge

The new bridge will be 85 ft. (26 m) high, approximately 433 ft. (132 m) long and 130.6 ft. (39.8 m) wide, making it the widest bridge of this type in the country. The arches will rise 70 ft. (21.3 m) above the highway. Approximately 5,305 ft. (1,617 m) of steel cable will be used, descending from ribs to floor beams supporting a concrete deck. In addition, walkways and river overlooks connecting the existing pedestrian paths will be built underneath the structure.

Bridge pylons (constructed of stone, metal, glass, and concrete) with a base 42 ft. (13 m) wide will rise approximately 50 ft. (15 m) narrowing to 13 ft. (4 m) wide at the top. After nightfall they will be illuminated inside, thus forming a vertical strip of light on each corner of the arch span.

Stage I of the job, begun in May 2004 and currently on schedule, will continue for the rest of the year. Work to be performed includes foundation work near the current bridge, which will allow the latter to remain in service as planned as the project progresses, as well as reconfiguration of a nearby ramp.

Stage II will begin next spring, when steel girders will be erected on half of the new bridge foundation. This phase involves switching lanes of traffic to one side of the bridge to permit demolition and rebuilding of the other.

Stage III will get under way in spring 2006. It will cover demolition of the north side of the old bridge and completion of construction of the new structure.

The cost of the project will be met by Federal Interstate Maintenance funding. “The contract is estimated at $38.7 million,” said Kraemer’s Thiemann. “However, that amount does not reflect the bidding process, which was done by the A + B method, meaning the contract was awarded based on both cost and time.”

“Each bid for the project consisted of two parts,” he said. “The A portion reflected the dollar amount of work to be performed. The B portion was the time, in calendar days, proposed by the bidder to complete the project or a portion of it. Then, to compute cost savings to motorists, this figure was multiplied by a daily user cost determined by the New York State Department of Transportation.”

“In addition,” he noted, “a disincentive provision is incorporated into the contract should the contractor fail to complete the work in the time bid. Also included was an incentive provision to award the contractor for early completion. The A + B amount was $43.2 million.”

Work Completed to Date

William Johnson, the mayor of Rochester attended an April 2004 groundbreaking ceremony, along with members of Kraemer’s project team and NYSDOT. New York Gov. Pataki stated in a press release issued to mark the occasion that the new bridge would not only improve travel for commuters and enhance Rochester’s transportation infrastructure, but also create “another local treasure for the Rochester community to embrace and be proud to call their own.”

Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc. is working on the substructure for the project. “Piers one through three are completed and the team is presently forming and pouring the east and west anchorages,” said Thiemann, adding that major work activities in August included pouring the northwest anchor footing —424 cu. yds. (324 cu m) of concrete — and the west interior anchor footing — approximately 680 cu. yds. (520 cu m) of concrete.

“The team has completed piers one and two, forming caps for pier three, and pouring footing and columns for pier four,” he continued. “We have completed 15,000 cubic meters to date as well as excavating 370 cubic meters of rock for keys in anchors. Steel erection will follow in two stages, one beginning in March 2005, and other in 2006. The contract requires us to be finished by June 2007 but we are aiming for early completion in December 2006.”

Equipment used on site includes a Caterpillar 950G loader, 322 and 330 excavators and D-3 bulldozer as well as a Liebherr A922 excavator and an Ingersoll-Rand 45F roller. Later in the project the company will be fielding a Manitowoc 888 crane for steel arch erection, along with other 150-ton (135 t) cranes plus cherry pickers, tugboats, and barges to aid the work. Approximately 30 company employees are working on the job although their numbers will peak to around 125 during steel erection.

As part of its planning for the project, NYSDOT grasped its opportunity to improve highway aesthetics. In addition to engaging a sub-consultant in the appropriate field, NYSDOT also formed an Aesthetics Committee, made up of local artisans, city representatives, and area residents, to provide input.

As a result of these consultations, certain details were incorporated into the design of the new bridge. For example, floor beams will be formed to present a smooth surface to pedestrians passing along the riverside walkway under the bridge. This committee will continue to provide guidance to the Department as the job continues since some aspects of the project remain to be decided.

Search for First Person Who Crossed the Original Bridge

In May 2004, NYSDOT announced it was seeking Charles S. Lee, the first person to drive across the original bridge the morning of December 1954. A resident of nearby Dartmouth Street, Lee made pipe cleaners at a local plant. A friend who was a state safety engineer recruited him for the honor. Since no vehicles appeared on the scene just after the bridge had been formally opened, this friend suggested Lee drive his car over. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle of Dec. 2 1954 records that when asked what he intended to do once he crossed the bridge, Lee replied he would then attempt to find his way back — a task, he joked, that he understood was rather complicated. Lee died in 1964. However, NYSDOT has located his daughter, now living out of state, as well as other relatives and will be offering them the opportunity to participate in the formal opening of the bridge in 2007.

Meantime, Edward Kraemer & Son’s Thiemann summed up the impact of the new bridge very well when he observed that it “is an amazing project that will redefine the skyline for the city of Rochester. We are proud to be a part of it.”

About the Company

Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc. is a diverse general contractor and construction aggregates producer with offices in 12 states and 1,100 employees nationwide.

Their construction division headquartered in Plain, WI, provides services in, among other areas, heavy-highway work, marine construction, rigging and erecting, structural steel erection, and millwright services, as well as project management.

The quarry headquarters for its materials division is located in Burnsville, MN, with two quarries in the Minneapolis metro area. The Burnsville quarry produces approximately 2.5 million tons (2.2 million t) of high-quality dolomitic limestone annually. The second quarry, opening for production in 2005, will produce class A granite.

Past projects include the Veterans Memorial Bridge in St. Louis, MO, an $80-million job that called for construction of two 600-ft. (183 m) long arches floated into place above the river’s navigational channel. The company’s current projects include the $191-million Maryland Approaches project, which requires construction of precast segmental V-piers across the Potomac for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Washington, D.C., as well as the bascule for the bridge. The latter is a $186-million contract involving construction of cast-in-place segmental V-piers and bascule leafs for the bridge’s draw span.

The company Web site is