ODOT Replaces U.S. Grant Bridge

Fri August 04, 2006 - Midwest Edition
Linda J. Hutchinson

The U.S. Grant toll bridge between Portsmouth, OH, and South Shore, KY, on US Route 23 opened in 1927.

It was closed to traffic on June 30, 2000, and demolished within a few months. The original completion date for the replacement bridge of June 2004 has been extended due to numerous delays, mostly weather-related.

The new completion date is late fall 2006.

From 1927 to 1984, when the Jesse Stuart Bridge was constructed, the U.S. Grant Bridge was the only automobile bridge in Scioto County to cross the Ohio River. The Carl Perkins Bridge was erected in 1988. During construction of the new U.S. Grant Bridge, traffic has been detoured via U.S. Route 52 and the Carl Perkins Bridge (Ohio Route 852), approximately 2 mi. west of Portsmouth.

Originally owned by the now-defunct Ohio Bridge Commission, the suspension bridge was purchased by ODOT in 1974. Tolls were removed at that time. The U.S. Grant Bridge replacement project was initiated by ODOT in 1992.

Between 1977 and 1996, more than $9 million had been spent to repair and rehabilitate various portions of the bridge. Even so, inspections showed the bridge suffered structural obsolescence and remained deficient for current and future traffic needs.

Costs for additional rehabilitation to maintain the bridge in this location were deemed to be $28 million, with additional funds required to continue to maintain the existing bridge over time.

“In addition, the existing bridge has two 11-foot lanes with a 6 ft. 7 in. sidewalk and carries only 60 percent of Ohio’s legal load for trucks. Today’s standards require that the structure have two 12-foot lanes with two-foot shoulders and that it carry 150 percent of the legal load. Therefore, it was deemed necessary and financially prudent to replace the existing bridge rather than rehabilitate it,” according to the official ODOT website.

ODOT initiated a long-range study to determine whether to continue to rehabilitate the existing bridge or construct a new span in 1992.

“According to the study, rehabilitating the span would add only 20 useful years to the suspension bridge before rehabilitation would need to occur again and would cost nearly $30 million. It was found not cost-efficient to continuously rehabilitate the suspension bridge when a new structure would be cheaper in the long-run. The bridge continued to age and once again closed for repairs in 1994.”

In April 2001 a contract was awarded to C.J. Mahan Company of Grove City, Ohio, for $28,434,495, following environmental clearances and mitigation issues, to replace the existing structure with a steel-based cable-stayed bridge.

Buckland & Taylor Ltd. has provided detailed erection engineering for the construction of the new cable-stayed bridge and also provided demolition engineering for the aging suspension bridge.

“The scope of work for the erection engineering includes the development and analysis of a detailed erection sequence for the new bridge, preparation of an erection manual and the provision of geometry control and stay installation procedures,” according to ODOT.

The new bridge will have two lanes plus two wide shoulders, replacing two lanes total on the aging suspension bridge. The bridge has a composite steel and concrete deck supported by two planes of stays. Total length of the new bridge is 2,155 ft. (657 m), with a main span of 865 ft. (264 m), and a tower height of 292 ft. (89 m).

According to Mark Hutchins, project manager for the contractor, they “have faced no environmental issues, other than inclement weather, during construction. The deck overlay, pre-cast panels, and structural steel are in place. Guardrail installation will take place in the near future.”

HNTB Companies retained Prime Engineering & Architecture Inc. (PRIME) to provide geotechnical engineering services for the project. The bridge being replaced was a 19-span structure of approximately 2,400 ft. (732 m) long, with a main span of 700 ft. (213 m) over the main shipping channel.

In accordance with ODOT specifications, PRIME developed and implemented a subsurface investigation program using a subsurface barge-mounting drilling rig. A total of 27 test borings were made in Ohio, Kentucky, and in the Ohio River to evaluate the subsurface conditions at the site. Soil and rock samples were taken for further examination and laboratory testing.

According to ODOT, there were two major causes for delay in the project. The primary cause has been the weather. Greater levels of precipitation of both snow and rainfall have been received since this project began and the contractors were not able to complete major portions of work as scheduled.

With unusually high amounts of precipitation, particularly in 2003, water levels at the Ohio River precluded certain phases of work from progressing as originally scheduled. The contractors were not able to complete the phases of the project within the outlined schedule as water levels made working safely over the river impossible.

“The overall cost for this project is approximately $38 million. This amount includes all prior or pending change orders, the dismissal of all previous claims, and additional costs for the acceleration component as per the project’s Work Forward Agreement,” according to ODOT.

Additional costs are associated with delays to the project by weather, and four specific disputed items or claim elements that provided a significant delay in the overall construction timeline. These items, which have been resolved, included: drilled shafts, reinforcing steel below the table top, erection engineering, and tower head redesign.

ODOT explains, “as an example is the erection engineering issues which arose during the project, and the structure’s overall design as a cable-stayed bridge which requires the contractor to develop a very detailed, exact erection engineering plan prior to specific phases of construction. Due to design and construction-related issues, the development of the engineering plan was delayed.

“Moreover, there was a delay to complete certain phases of the project within the timeframe originally estimated. Specifically, the placement of the foundations for the two towers which will support the structure over the river was delayed due to differing site conditions found below the river bottom.”

ODOT and the contractor have settled several disputes relating to time extensions, design changes and construction plan revisions. Since the beginning of 2006, the contractor has more than doubled its staffing level and is working longer hours and weekends — as weather permits — to meet the new completion date. CEG

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