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Newark Airport Improvements Cleared for ’Monkey’ Business

Wed December 06, 2000 - Northeast Edition

Reports of “monkey” business on a pile driving project at the Newark International Airport have been confirmed by Linde-Griffith Construction Co., Newark, NJ. The monkey in this case involved the creation of an ingenious product that eliminated risk and increased productivity on this $15-million project.

The “Automatic Monkey,” as dubbed by its creator Jackie Warren, Linde-Griffith’s general dockbuilder foreman, eliminated the need for a man to try to seat the 120-ft. (36 m) pile under the hammer while in the leads 50 ft. (15 m) off the ground.

This, according to David W. Price, senior executive vice president, Linde-Griffith, would have been very difficult and borderline unsafe without this auto monkey. “The pile weighs 10,000 lbs., so pushing it around under the pile driving hammer for any man is difficult if not an impossible task,” said Price. “The ’Automatic Monkey’ proved to be a key factor to the success of the job. We will be utilizing this on future Linde-Griffith projects to aid in production and safety measures.”

The job, the Adams and Peddie Ditch Bridge, involves the extension of the tarmac at the airport’s Continental Airlines concourse. To do this, Linde-Griffith crews will drive piles and steel sheeting to support a bridge over the Adams ditch – the ditch used to collect all of the storm water at Newark Airport. The bridge, with its unusual dimensions, will be 2,000 ft. (606 m) wide by 60 ft. (18 m) long.

Calling for 2,000 pipe piles in lengths from 90 to 120 ft. (27 to 36 m), crews will drive more than 200,000 lineal ft. (60,606 m) of piles.

The pipe piles, coated with a corrosion resistant Skotchkote 206N Fusion Bond Epoxy (Durabond coating), are being placed by two Manitowoc 4000Ws and a Manitowoc 3900W, which were purchased and turned into pile drivers specifically for this job.

Joe Merse, Linde-Griffith’s equipment manager, fabricated all of the pile drivers on site enabling these machines to reach 60 ft. (18 m) off the center pin to drive the piles for the required reach.

“Due to site constrains,” said Merse, “the closest we were able to get was 57 ft. A normal pile driver reaches 20 to 25 ft. This is more than double that normal reach. In addition, we had to make the machine capable of driving 120-ft. piles in one piece. This has never been done before at the Newark Airport.”

This center pier, of which 1,000 of the pipe piles had to be driven, was the most challenging task on the job.

To drive the 120-ft. (36 m) center piles in once piece, Linde-Griffith called on the skill of two of its operators, Tom Gallitano and Ed Montifreddi.

“Tom and Ed’s expertise gave us the confidence to allow them to pick the piles and drive them in one piece,” said Price. “When Tom and Ed are setting these piles, they have to rely solely upon hand signals. Due to the extreme height they cannot see the hammer while setting these piles.”

The pile driver, according to Merse, must be situated behind the permanent sheeting, which makes the reach 57 ft. (17 m) from the center pin. “This is highly unusual,” he said. “The weight of the pick is more than 50,000 lbs.”

At times Linde-Griffith will have four rigs driving pipe piles: the two Manitowoc 4000Ws on center pier, a Manitowoc 3900W on abutment batter piles and another Manitowoc 3900 on abutment plumb piles. An additional two rigs will also be driving permanent and temporary sheeting.

Linde-Griffith will utilize 132,000 sq. ft (11,880 sq m) of permanent sheeting coated full length with Hempel 119 Coal Tar (Encor coatings) and another 132,000 sq. ft. (11,880 sq m) of temporary sheeting.

The job, according to Price, is made even more difficult by the access provided. The only access is the two roadways that run the length of the bridge. These roadways are only wide enough for one crane.

During the course of the construction, sheeting installation, pile driving, rebar cage placement, concrete in piles, piles caps and precast are all being performed simultaneously along this roadway to meet the aggressive schedule.

Other key Linde-Griffith personnel that are crucial to the completion include: Charlie Lucas, Brian Mannix, Shawn Fortenberry, Bill Penn, Bob Mutz, Bob Dammann, Chuck Reisinger and Pete McDunough.

This Port Authority of New York and New Jersey project is expected to be complete by the end of the year.