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New Bridge Arrives in NYC After Float Down Hudson

Fri August 13, 2010 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

NEW YORK (AP) A prefabricated 350-ft. (107 m)-long bridge that will replace a 109-year-old span across the Harlem River arrived July 26 aboard two barges that were pushed and pulled by tugboats.

The 2,400-ton (2,177 t) swing bridge passed under the Brooklyn Bridge, on its way to its home, just south of the old Willis Avenue Bridge. The new bridge will be tied up to the shoreline until it is installed. The city Department of Transportation hopes to have traffic rolling across the span in November.

The new bridge connecting Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx will replace a span that opened in 1901 and carries more than 70,000 vehicles a day. The existing Willis Avenue Bridge will remain open to traffic as the new span is floated into place atop foundations and piers.

The new bridge was built for the transportation department at a privately owned port in Coeymans, near Albany. A marine transportation crew loaded the finished span onto the barges that were welded together for the two week-long, 130-mile trip down the Hudson River to a dock in Bayonne, N.J.

On July 26, the span was hauled from Bayonne 15 mi. (24 km) north through the East River to its final destination.

The last leg of the journey was via the East River because the load’s height, 82 ft. (25 m) from the barges’ decks to the bridge’s top crossbeam, was too tall for the low bridges over the narrow Harlem River.

Getting 4.8 million pounds of steel onto the barges required four 50-ft. (15 m)-long steel ramps connecting the vessels’ decks to the docks. The move was timed to the peak of high tide. The 4 1/2-hour process involved precise measuring of the height of the tide and pumping ballast water through the barges to keep them level with the dock.

All the heavy lifting was carried out by a crew from Mammoet, a Dutch company that specializes in moving extraordinarily large objects. Its past projects include raising the Russian submarine Kursk after it was sunk by an explosion a decade ago, and transporting the 400-ft. (122 m)-long, 5.5-million lb. new Providence River Bridge 12 mi. (19 km) up Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay in August 2006.

Barend Schuring, Mammoet’s project manager for the bridge job, said each barge was 180 ft. (55 m) long and, when welded together, had a total width of 108 ft. (33 m).

A crew from Weeks Marine Inc. was handling the bridge transportation in a joint venture with the Kiewit Corp., the Omaha, Neb.-based construction company contracted by New York City for the $612 million bridge replacement project.

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