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Demolition Work Continues on Bridge in Busy Orlando

Wed June 13, 2012 - Southeast Edition
Peter Hildebrandt

At a hectic series of central Florida interchanges, SR 417 and SR 408 there was little time available for demolishing the old bridges and then reconstructing new ones in their place. As a result, the new bridges needed were constructed and then when traffic was up and running the demolition of the older structures took place. Interstate 4 in Florida loops around the north side of Orlando. This project is on the southeast corner of Orlando.

The work demolition is part of a $70 million project that Lane Construction is doing for the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authorities (OOCEA). They are actually redoing the entire interchange of Highways 408 and 417. This construction company has built two new bridges which has allowed for the demolition of four older bridges at this location. In the end all of this work will simplify what has always been a rather complicated interchange.

In the four bridges being demolished there was 2.1 million lbs. (952,544 kg) of steel to be dismantled and processed through recycling. The beams range in size from 200 to 300 ft. (60 to 91 m), 150,000 to 200,000 lbs. (68,038 to 90,718 kg) per beam.

The project also involves some 600,000 yds. (548,640 m) of excavation involved as well as 600,000 yds. of embankment being worked on. All of the bridges contain I-beams in their construction. Two of the bridges are actually curved radius structures. Work at one point proceeded through the use of a shear attachment on an excavator used for erecting, according to Craig Rehwaldt, Lane Construction project engineer.

Demolition work on this project started in April 2012. Lane Construction’s goal is to have all the steel sent to the recycler by the end of May. By the first week of June they should have all the steel down and off the bridges. At the end of June the plan is to be completely done, have all the foundations, piers and seawalls — all the concrete in the old bridges — broken up, hauled off and the rebar all towed off as well.

The equipment involved in the project Lane Construction owned and rented on this site. The machinery was used to shear some of the beams while others were simply being torched up. Three of the four bridges had been demolished by late May. Two of these bridges stood directly over traffic. On those, the I-beams were approximately 7 ft. (2.1 m) tall. Those were picked off the bridge with cranes from over the roadway. Those are being cut up and recycled.

“On the third bridge we’re working right now to remove the concrete deck and traffic railing,” explained Rehwaldt. “But all the concrete is getting hauled off to a concrete recycler; all the rebar is being sorted out along with the I-beams and diaphragms. This is all being hauled off to a recycler as well.

“On a lot of jobs you just end up widening what’s there. This job was kind of unique in that we were rebuilding new ramps, new bridges and then demolishing the old ones. Lane is the main contractor on the job though there are some others such as electrical and paving. The demolition though is one hundred percent self-performed by Lane Construction.”

The beams are all being taken down in an active work zone. There are two beams that are curved bringing their own challenges.

“When a bridge is super-elevated and is on a radius you don’t really know where it’s going to go,” said Rehwaldt. “The removal of the straight beams from the old bridge took place directly over traffic.”

They have until the end of December to finish up the project but are currently about a month ahead of schedule. The biggest pieces of equipment involved on this job are the cranes being used for the work of deconstructing the bridges. Lane has a Manitowoc 888 and a Manitowoc 777 on site.

The 888 has components and technology which have been developed over the past three decades. It is well suited for work involving the distribution of loads over large areas and the lifting capacity is able to be increased substantially — something which comes in handy for the curved and straight I-beams being worked with on this job.

The 777, as with other Manitowoc cranes, has a long-lived work span. It is quick on the job, with the power, reach and speed to handle the work details found on most job sites. The 777 also features the advanced EPIC control system and FACT connectors for quick and reliable assembly. This no doubt came in handy on a job site where current highway traffic is active in the midst of work involving the dismantling of a decommissioned bridge.

For the most part the only thing that Lane Construction rented are the cranes, renting mainly from All Sunshine; the rest of their equipment they own. Funding for the project comes from the OOCEA. The cost of Lane Construction’s part of the project is about $70 million dollars.

Rehwaldt attributes the success on the project so far to excellent planning.

“We did construct three new bridges, one about 1,500 feet long, the other 800 feet long and the other approximately 200 feet long. Lane Construction had some 140 workers onsite for this demolition work. Safety protection equipment included hardhats, vests, gloves and eye protection at all times.”

“They got our machinery there doing the work,” explained Richard Taylor, territory manager, Nortrax. Nortrax is owned by John Deere and also happens to be the largest John Deere distributor in North America. “Right now they’re using the crushing jaw to crush all the roads up. They will go back with a shear on it and cut all the beams down.

“When you are sitting on the ground level, watching up on top it is pretty impressive to see it work. They’ve been out there working on this for quite a long time; now is the tail end of things. All the new roads are built and they’re just tearing down the bridges to finish the job up.”

The four bridges are located at Goldenrod and Valencia parkways on the east side of Orlando.

“The main challenge on this project was trying to figure out which way to go, to bring a contractor in and do the demolition work onsite or dismantle everything involved with the bridges and hauling that material to a crusher nearby,” said Taylor. “Those were the biggest concerns, simply the logistics involved and what made the most sense.”

The bridges being de-constructed are not that old, according to Taylor. Those involved were trying to determine if the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) could actually use the disassembled beams somewhere else. FDOT thought that if they didn’t have some projects coming up with the same spec metal as that found in these bridges they could cut them up into 40-ft. (12 m) lengths and haul them off to a recycler. All the concrete in turn could be crushed and sold.

During the course of Lane Construction’s renting of the equipment being used, work also is being done seven days a week. This site is deep within a heavily-used area with roads beneath the bridges therefore timing is critical. Roads must be closed down so that beams can be taken down as well as a lot of other logistics that are involved in this work.

The beams will be cut up and then dropped in place, according to Taylor.

“This is some pretty thick metal,” added Taylor. “There will be a great deal of torching of some of this metal; not all the machinery will be able to cut through that.

“The road is still open. There is a debris net on one side of the bridge to keep materials from falling down on the cars that are still passing by underneath on one side of the road. There is a lot of logistics involved with the project. These roads are major traffic arteries and cannot simply be shut down when work such as this that’s being done is called for.”

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