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Frederick Ave. Span Replacement on Schedule

The $14 million contract was awarded to the Joseph B. Fay Company, under the direction of Jim McNelis.

Tue September 09, 2014 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

A project involving the replacement of the Frederick Avenue Bridge in Southwest Baltimore, Md., is currently moving forward.

The $14 million contract was awarded to the Joseph B. Fay Company, under the direction of Jim McNelis. Work started in January 2013 and is currently on schedule for a January 2015 completion. Funding for the project is from the city of Baltimore, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), and the Federal Highway Administration.

The bridge, originally built in 1930, passes over Gwynns Falls and CSX Railroad in Baltimore. The previous bridge was a two-span filled concrete arch, with each span measuring 100 ft. (30.5 m) in length by 66 ft. (20 m) in width. During this project, the previous bridge will be replaced with a two-span pre-stressed concrete girder bridge that has an arch façade designed to mimic the original arch structure.

Construction activities will include the installation of a temporary pedestrian/utility bridge, the creation of a detour route that will be used for the duration of the project, construction of a temporary stream crossing, demolition of the existing bridge, construction of the new bridge and arch façade, and roadway approach reconstruction including storm water management.

Improvements to the intersection of Caton Avenue and Wilkens Avenue also are part of this contract and must be completed before the Frederick Avenue Bridge can be closed. This work will include the addition of an exclusive right turn lane on the southbound leg of Caton Avenue, pavement markings, and full signal reconstruction.

According to Ryan Surrena of Joseph B. Fay Company, one of the challenges with this project is the unavailability of as-build drawings for the existing structure, which made it difficult to develop a complete removal plan. Fay had to remove small portions of the existing bridge to obtain rebar sizes and spacing to ensure the bridge could handle the equipment sizes needed to remove this structure.

The absence of as-builds also made it difficult for the engineer of record to design the foundations for the new structure as they were unsure of the foundation for the existing bridge.

Another hurdle involved coordinating the relocations of utilities, so construction could begin. These utilities included electric, gas, city street lighting, and fiber optic and phone for multiple providers.

Surrena reported that other challenges encountered were coordinating removal of the existing arch bridge and the erection of the new precast arch sections and precast girders.

“Many coordination meetings were conducted between CSX and Fay to ensure that CSX could maintain their operations while erection activities occurred,” he said. “The area adjacent to CSX’s tracks was quite narrow, making it difficult to set cranes up for erection activities. Fay and CSX worked hand in hand to accomplish the work while maintaining CSX operations.”

In addition, care had to be used while working over and adjacent to Gwynns Falls, as it is very prone to flooding quickly and there was little to no lay-down area for the project.

“Another major challenge was ensuring that the precast arch sections lined up with the embedment plates cast into the substructure,” Surrena said. “Significant engineering/surveying had to be completed prior to the installation of the arches, and specially designed embedment plates were required to be cast in the pier and abutments to receive the pre-cast arch sections. The plates had to be surveyed and re-surveyed prior to and post substructure placement pours, and constant measurements had to be taken while the three-piece arch ribs were installed. Each rib had to fit exactly into place or it would be aesthetically noticed from the public eye. The tolerance to set these plates and arch ribs had to be within 1/16.”

A unique feature of this project is the installation of a temporary pedestrian bridge that carried the relocated utilities and pedestrians across CSX and Gwynns Falls while construction was taking place.

Another unique concept was the design and fabrication of a skid beam to erect the Type V Precast AASHTO girders, which weigh 62 tons each.

“The use of a skidder beam system is unique as a larger crane is more typically used,” Surrena said. “The site had limited access and larger cranes were not feasible. Fay came up with this innovative way to utilize the crane they had on site, along with another smaller rental crane, to complete the job while saving money.”

The project includes 14,000 cu. yds. (10,704 cu m) of excavation and 7,000 cu. yds. (5,352 cu m) of concrete, with two 700 cu. yds. (535 cu m) pours, two 550 cu. yds. (420 cu m) pours, and two 425 cu. yds, (325 cu m) pours. There are 16 type V AASHTO girders weighing 62 tons (56 t) each, 12 precast arch sections weighing 18 tons (16 t) each, 600 linear ft. (183 m) of 4-ft. (1.2 m) diameter caissons, and 400 linear ft. (122 m) of 3-ft. (.9 m) diameter caissons.

Major subcontractors include Shelly Foundations Inc., Avonmore, Pa., for caissons; Traffic Systems Inc., Harmans, Md. for electrical; Mohawk Bridge & Iron Inc., Baltimore, Md., for reinforcement; and Interlock Steelworkers Inc., Mount Airy, Md., for erection of precast girders.

Major equipment used on the job includes cranes for lifting girders in place (Manitowoc 4100W Series 2 230-ton (209 t) crawler crane, Demag AC250-1 250-ton (227 t) all-terrain crane); a Terex/Demag AC1300-SL 500-ton (453 t) all-terrain crane with superlift for erection of the pedestrian bridge; a Link-Belt HSP-4060 60-ton (54 t) rough-terrain crane; a Kobelco CK-1110G 110-ton (100 t) crawler crane for steel panel formwork; excavators to attach the hammers used in demolition of the previous bridge structure (Komatsu PC400 excavator with 55-ft. (17 m) boom; a Komatsu PC 300 excavator; a Komatsu PC 228 excavator; a Kobelco 115 excavator with drill attachment for helical anchor tiebacks); and various hydraulic hammers (Rammer E-64 hydraulic hammer, a Rammer G-80 hydraulic hammer, and a Rammer G-110 hydraulic hammer).

Brenda Ruggiero

Brenda Ruggiero has written for CEG for over 20 years. She lives near the town of Accident in far western Maryland. Her favorite assignments so far involved interviews with Survivor’s Boston Rob and hot dog eating champion Joey Chestnut. Both were involved in construction at one time.

Brenda holds a BA in Mass Communication with a writing focus from Frostburg State University and minors in Public Relations and Political Science. She works full time as a staff writer for a weekly newspaper, the Garrett County Republican. She enjoys feature writing the most, which gives her the opportunity to talk to people and share their stories.

Brenda and her middle school sweetheart, Reuben, have been married for over 34 years and have three grown children and four cats.

Read more from Brenda Ruggiero here.

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