Manitowoc Pledges to Help Reconstruct Notre-Dame

First Span of New Ohio River Bridge Expected This Week

Thu June 21, 2012 - Midwest Edition
Peggy Vlerebome - THE MADISON COURIER



MADISON, Ind. (AP) The team building a new Ohio River bridge connecting Madison and Milton, Ky., wants spectators to stay on dry land while the first new span is placed on temporary pilings the week of June 18.

The exact dates have not been set, but the complex series of steps to get the section of the truss in place will take 36 hours over three days, and might include night work.

There will be a 500-ft. keep-away zone and a 1,000-ft. no-wake zone both upriver and downriver from the bridge carrying U.S. 421 over the river. The zones will be enforced, and the U.S. Coast Guard has been asked for help, Walsh Construction Co. said in an overview of the operation.

Spectators will be able to watch from anywhere along the river except beyond the fence near St. Michael’s Avenue on Vaughn Drive, the bridge project team said. Unlike during the blast to remove an approach span on the Madison side, people will be able to watch from the grassy area between the river and the sidewalk on the Madison side, the team said.

The span was built on barges on the Kentucky side. It is 600 ft. long and weighs 1,776 tons.

The steel in this span weighs 14 times more than the weight of the steel in the Statue of Liberty.

Getting the bridge span onto the temporary pilings will be an exercise in precision. The lifting method is called hydraulic strand jacking.

Part of the job will be to place two girders — which are very long steel beams — under the span that will be used when the entire new bridge is slid onto the existing, enlarged piers. Installing each girder will take six hours.

Walsh Construction Co.’s overview described what will take place. The steps include:

• Use barges to pull the span away from the assembly area on the Kentucky side. The span will be on barges that will float out into the river.

• Turn the span into the proper orientation for its lift.

• Push the span into position at the base of temporary piers 3 and 4, then anchor it into place. Temporary piers 3 and 4 are next to the first piers in the water on the Kentucky side.

• Make the final lifting preparations, which will include several steps.

• Lift the span higher than its destination so the sliding girders can be installed between it and the temporary piers. To do this, workers will use a system of rollers, cable winches, high-torque hydraulic wrenches and center hole jacks, the overview said.

The overview also included how much time the various parts of the float and lift will take, with the lengths of time subject to change.

The first half-hour will be get-ready time and will include a “safety huddle” where all the safety risks will be talked about, the project team said. There will be about three huddles altogether during the span lifting, the team said.

Floating the span into position will take half an hour, and final preparations for the lift will take nine and a half hours.

Strand-lifting the span will take 10 hours, followed by installing the sliding girder at temporary pier 3, a six-hour job, followed by doing the same at temporary pier 4, also a six-hour job.

Hours 34 through 36 will be spent doing the final positioning of bearings and setting the span.

The bridge project team will be taking time-lapse pictures of the entire process, which will show a short, compacted version of the span lifting. The time-lapse video will be on the project Web site, www.miltonmadisonbridge.com.

The bridge will be open for traffic while the span lifting is going on, and the normal work at the bridge will be taking place, including work on the approaches, pile driving and construction of another span — 727-ft. (221.6 m) long — that is being built on the Kentucky riverbank.

When that span is done, there will be another lifting operation, expected later this summer. The rest of the bridge will be built by workers over the river instead of alongside the river.

When the new bridge is finished on the temporary piers, traffic will be diverted to it and the existing bridge will be closed forever and taken down.

The work on the existing piers will be completed, and then, probably early next year, the entire new bridge will be slid into place on the piers, and Madison and Milton will have a new bridge across the Ohio River.