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FDR Drive Project Stays on Track, Budget

Mon February 07, 2005 - Northeast Edition
David S. Chartock

There is always one thing that makes a project unique. Sometimes it is the innovative solutions to project challenges and sometimes it is the equipment used and how it was or will be used. In the case of the $140-million FDR Drive Rehabilitation Project, it is both.

Included in the project is the reconstruction and rehabilitation of a 1.25-mi. (2 km) section of the FDR Drive from 53rd Street to 63rd Street along Manhattan’s East Side. It also includes replacement along this stretch of the highway, which averages 70,000 vehicles daily, of the bridge and viaduct superstructure; rehabilitation of both the rooftop structure and rooftop park; rehabilitation of the retaining and barrier wall; seismic retrofitting; and installation of new lighting, signage and drainage.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge facing the project’s team, according to John Crecco, project superintendent, of Whitestone, NY-based Slattery Skanska, which is the project’s joint venture general contractor with Weeks Marine, of Cranford, NJ, is trying to construct the project on this heavily trafficked highway with minimal disruption to the traveling public and local community.

The solution, which launched the project’s start in September 2002, was “to build a bypass or outboard detour roadway 50 feet out over the East River,” Crecco explained.

According to Crecco, the bypass is 2,000 ft. (610 m) long. It extends from 53rd Street to 60th Street and features 64-in. (162.6 cm) diameter caissons drilled into the riverbed.

“This was done by Weeks Marine using floating and jack-up barges that served as drilling platforms using Bauer BG-25 and BG-22 drilling rigs leased from Bauer International in Germany,” he said.

“Once the caissons were installed, W-36 structural steel beams and W-24 steel stringers were attached to the top of the caissons,” Crecco added.

The structural beams and steel stringers were erected using a floating barge with a Manitowoc 4100 crawler crane, he noted.

Following the steel erection, Crecco said, a precast concrete deck was installed from barges on the East River.

After the precast concrete deck was installed, a noise shield was erected 14 ft. (4.3 m) clear of the roadway, from the top of the concrete deck using a 35-ton (31.5 t) cherry picker, he added.

Paving followed erection of the noise shield, he said.

Continuing, Crecco explained that “along with the outboard roadway, a fendering system was constructed.”

The fendering system consists of a series of floating dolphins spaced 300 ft. (91.4 m) apart and anchored into a caisson drilled into the river’s bottom. Crecco added that each and every one of the 64 anchors needed to be load-tested to a capacity of 300 tons (270 t).

Attached to the floating dolphins “is a birthing beam that consists of a 10-foot diameter steel pipe that acts as a bumper” in case of wayward marine traffic, he noted.

“This bypass or outboard detour roadway was active by May 2004. Its completion allowed us to proceed with the rest of the project,” Crecco said.

Another project challenge was the reconstruction of an upper roadway from 56th Street to 62nd Street while diverted southbound traffic continued underneath.

The solution, Crecco said, was to construct a 1,600-ft. (488 m) long protective steel shield and support section to protect the motorists and support the upper roadway demolition.

This shield had to be erected from underneath the lower roadway, he said, using a Taylor TE40-30 40,000-lb. (18,144 kg) rigging forklift fitted with a 6-ft. (1.8 m) diameter turntable mounted to the forklift. This allowed erection of the steel for the shield from underneath with beams delivered on special trailers that allowed the forklift to hoist the beams from the bottom up.

This was necessary, he added, because the height beneath the roadway is 16 ft. (4.8 m), leaving no access to remove the beams and maneuver them underneath the roadway in a traditional manner.

The solution to another project challenge — cutting the roadway with limited access caused by the roof of the FDR Drive above the river on one side and access only from the south end on another side — will be a wire saw, he explained.

“The roadway will be wire saw cut by the project’s sawing subcontractor, CTI of Glouster City, NJ, so pieces could be easily removed in sections and then allow for reconstruction to take place in sections. As one section is removed, it will be replaced with structural steel and standard New York State Department of Transportation [NYSDOT] bridge deck. Standard NYSDOT bridge deck consists of 10-foot thick concrete deck with galvanized steel forms,” Crecco said.

To minimize noise and dust, hydraulic concrete shears, which are quieter and produce less dust, will be used instead of traditional impact breaking equipment, he noted.

In addition to CTI and the joint venture general contractor of Slattery Skanska and Weeks Marine, other project team members include NYSDOT, Region 11 of Long Island City, NY, owner and design engineer; Daniel Frankfort, of New York City, main roadway design consultant; TAMS Consultants of New York City, outboard roadway design consultant; DMJM+Harris of New York City, fendering system design consultant; and the New York City office of Morristown, NJ-based Edwards and Kelcey, inspection consultant and construction manager.

The project, which is on budget and on schedule, is expected to be completed by May 2007.

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