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Low Span Score Spurs Vital Replacement Work

Wed April 11, 2012 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Hetrick


Photo Courtesy of Justin G. Orient
The existing five-span bridge will be completely demolished (including concrete piers and abutments). Then a new three-span bridge will be constructed in its place, which will be aligned slightly downstream from the exi
Photo Courtesy of Justin G. Orient The existing five-span bridge will be completely demolished (including concrete piers and abutments). Then a new three-span bridge will be constructed in its place, which will be aligned slightly downstream from the exi
Photo Courtesy of Justin G. Orient
The existing five-span bridge will be completely demolished (including concrete piers and abutments). Then a new three-span bridge will be constructed in its place, which will be aligned slightly downstream from the exi Photo Courtesy of Justin G. Orient
The crane used during the demolition was a rental Liebherr 500 ton (453 t) with a super-lift setup. The bridge beam sections that were removed weighed approximately 50,000 lbs. (22,679 kg) each. Photo Courtesy of Justin G. Orient
There have been surprisingly few issues so far, considering the somewhat awkward location of the bridge, which is very close to a number of creekside homes and several construction zones for the Route 202 Parkway (711).

Eighty-two years can take a lot out of a bridge, particularly when the area in which it was built has experienced a dramatic growth in population and, therefore, traffic. Such is the case with a bridge in still bucolic, but increasingly busy, Bucks County, Pa.

Located just outside Doylestown Borough, the bridge at Lower State and Almshouse Roads has carried traffic of all kinds — two- and four-footed as well as wheeled conveyances of various sorts — over the Neshaminy Creek in ever-increasing numbers. The most recent count stands at 13,500 vehicles per day. Built in 1930, the original bridge was 212 ft. (64.6 m) long and 24 ft. (7.3 m) wide. It also was constructed with five support piers, which have interfered with water flow and caused flooding on more than one occasion over the years.

Now a part of Castle Valley Park, a unique 3.8-acre spot retrieved from what was just a dumping ground in 1999, the bridge also has seen its fair share of damage from natural causes, such as storms knocking huge trees onto it and water corrosion, as well.

Declared structurally deficient when it received a rating of just 17.4 out of a possible 100, the bridge has waited a long time for replacement work to begin.

Now, the work has not only begun, but also has moved at a steady pace since J.D. Eckman Inc., Atgen, Pa., won the project, which was let for public bidding in December 2010, and worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) through some changes to the plan.

According to Project Manager Justin Orient, the project entails, “some initial clearing and grubbing work to remove trees for utility relocation and to facilitate a slightly new roadway alignment of Lower State Road with the intersection of Almshouse Road. The existing five-span bridge will be completely demolished [including concrete piers and abutments]. Then a new three-span bridge will be constructed in its place, which will be aligned slightly downstream from the existing bridge.”

The new, three-span bridge will be a composite pre-stressed concrete spread box beam structure, 40 ft. (12 m) wide with two travel lanes and two shoulders at a cost of $3.5 million.

It also will have, Orient explained, “approximately 6,000 square feet of architectural treatment [stone facing on the concrete abutments, piers and bridge parapets]. Form liners will be used when the concrete is poured and then the stone surfaces will be stained to match the adjacent Route 202 Parkway. Then the new roadway will be paved and the area will be top soiled and seeded for permanent stabilization.”

The project, which began in April 2011, has gone smoothly after some initial delays and rethinking the way in which it should be done.

“Initially we had some utility relocation to deal with and that delayed the start of our work significantly,” stated Orient. “The project was originally designed as a two-stage process in which we would demolish and build the right half of the bridge and then switch traffic over and repeat the process on the left side. At the end of 2011 PennDOT approached J.D. Eckman with the idea to completely close down the road and to build the bridge as a complete unit, rather than in stages.

“After some meetings and discussions with PennDOT officials and local representatives, the go-ahead was given in December 2011 to close the entire bridge and detour the traffic until the bridge was complete. This change benefits both PennDOT, by completing the work sooner and creating a better finished product, and J.D. Eckman with easier construction and continuity. In other words, we will be able to build complete walls, piers and bridge deck as opposed to constructing it in half where there would be rebar couplers and extra construction joints in the concrete.”

There have been surprisingly few other issues so far, considering the somewhat awkward location of the bridge, which is very close to a number of creek-side homes and several construction zones for the Route 202 Parkway (711).

“The biggest challenge will be working alongside the Neshaminy Creek and de-watering our pier and abutment excavations in order to construct the footing of the bridge. The Route 202 work hasn’t impacted us so far, except in the early stages when the contractor had to close Almshouse Road to complete some of their re-construction work which delayed the initial start of our project for a couple months. Other than that there hasn’t really been any impact one way or another from that. Another challenge was coming up with a way to keep demolition debris and slurry out of the Neshaminy Creek. The job site superintendent came up with the idea to construct a temporary floating ’barge’ or work platform that was used to catch the debris,” Orient stated.

At this time, crews seem on target for completing the work on schedule. The current contract completion date is April 2013. Aside from J.D. Eckman’s six men onsite, Orient said there would be subcontractors on and off the site throughout the project’s duration.

“There will be approximately ten subcontractors for us on this project. They will perform items of work within the contract that may include electrical/traffic signal control, stay-in-place bridge form installation, maintenance and protection of traffic [MPT], landscaping and E&S controls, pavement markings, tree clearing and grubbing, concrete cutting [bridge demolition], guiderail and sign installation and concrete curb/sidewalk installation,” said Orient.

Equipment being used on the job includes a Cat 430D-IT backhoe, a Komatsu PC308USLC excavator, a Case CX330 excavator, a Link-Belt 28T crane, a flatbed truck, an Ingersoll Rand 185 portable air compressor and miscellaneous small hand tools.