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Mass.’s Astro Crane Gives Big Lift to Route 111 Bridge Project in N.H.

Mon August 02, 2010 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

High above the New Hampshire roads, in the shadow of Canobee Lake Park, two cranes and a dozen men coupled big steel beams into place.

Those huge steel beams for the bridge were set by S & W Construction, a steel erecting company in Concord, N.H., and lifted up by cranes supplied by Astro Crane Company of Stow, Mass., subcontractors working under the guidance of Middlesex Corporation, the project’s general contractor, based in Littleton, Mass.

The new bridge is part of the construction of a new I-93 northbound roadway in the area of Exit 3 on the new highway alignment. Middlesex is overseeing the $25 million project, which is scheduled for completion by the end of September 2010.

Working Partners

Mike Wright of Astro Crane is the project manager for his company and the crane operator on the Route 111 bridge. It is his job to hoist the steel beams for S & W to put in place. The second operator on the job is Steve Piso.

“It’s a big bridge going over Route 111,” said Wright, who also is one of the sons of Astro Crane co-owner Marty Wright. “I’ve been running a crane for 14 years now, and this is a pretty interesting job.

“There is some big steel being used,” he added. “It’s a good job for us. We’ve kept two cranes on site, two Liebherr cranes. They are all-terrain, truck-mounted, hydraulic cranes. The two models are LTM 1160 and LTM 1220. They are great to hoist steel. Each crane picks up one beam length. We hold them up while S & W connects them and puts in the splice, where the two beams connect, then, they put in all the bolts,” said Wright.

A total of 32 beams make up the bridge, the heaviest weighing 59,000 lbs. (26,761 kg).

“The beams are 97 inches tall, just over 8 feet high,” said Wright. “The largest ones we did were 116 feet long. The span, the total length of the bridge, is just under 400 feet.”

He added that working with S & W is as smooth as the steel beams themselves.

“S & W really know what they are doing. You have to know a lot to bolt together those big beams. To get the diaphragms [connections between beams] all connected to get everything bolted up, you have to work well.”

The companies’ work schedule requires them to lift and secure two beams per crane each night.

“The first 16 beams were on Route 111. That was four nights, probably 10 to 12 hours a night,” said Wright. “It was eight days total, two beams a night, an average of 10 hours per day.”

Ambitious Planning

According to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT), the 20-mi. (32 km) widening of I-93 between Exits 1 and 5, from the Massachusetts state line to Manchester, N.H., may be its most ambitious road project to date.

The overall goal is to make this busy highway corridor safer and to improve traffic mobility.

NHDOT literature states that Interstate 93 is one of New Hampshire’s principal arterials and is critical to the economic vitality of the state, region and local communities. After carefully reviewing several alternatives and their environmental, social, economic and cultural impacts on the southeastern New Hampshire region, NHDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) moved forward to reconstruct and widen I-93 to safely and efficiently meet the mobility needs of New Hampshire, now and in the future.

According to the NHDOT Web site, I-93 travels just over 131 mi. (211 km) in the Granite State; around two-thirds of the highway’s total distance.

Serving as the main interstate route in New Hampshire, it connects the state capital, Concord, and its largest city, Manchester. Beyond Concord are the towns of Tilton, Plymouth, and Littleton.

I-93 enters New Hampshire at Salem, where the current reconstruction of the Exit 1 ramps (leading to the Mall at Rockingham Park) along with the reduction of the freeway from four northbound lanes to only two, tends to cause traffic backups.

The corridor remains only two lanes wide in each direction for its first 18 mi. (29 km), until the split with Interstate 293 and the junction with New Hampshire Route 101 add a third lane back to the freeway.

I-93 and New Hampshire Route 101 run concurrently for about a mile before New Hampshire Route 101 heads directly east as its own freeway, serving Portsmouth and the Seacoast region.

Cranes For Any Job

Astro Crane is a well-known small company specializing in hydraulic crane rental and operations. Its inventory includes cranes ranging from 8 to 365 tons (7.2 to 331t). Over the last 30 years, Astro Crane has grown steadily. It currently employs 14 crane operators, two truck drivers, a mechanic, two secretaries and a yardman.

“We are strictly a crane rental company, with an operator provided, hourly,” said Wright.

For more information, visit CEG

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