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PA’s Bridge for 21st Century Carries $27.5M Price Tag

Mon January 14, 2002 - Northeast Edition
Mary Reed

Drivers using the elderly Carey Avenue bridge spanning the Susquehanna River at Wilkes-Barre, PA, have been following progress of the new structure being built slightly upstream with great interest.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District Engineer Chuck Mattei, “The new Carey Avenue Bridge will be state-of-the-art. Instead of crossing the Susquehanna River on an old narrow two-lane steel bridge, drivers in this part of Luzerne County will soon travel on a new wide four-lane concrete structure, a bridge that will also have room for pedestrians, and for those who travel by bicycle. It truly will be a new bridge fit for the 21st century.”

After the closure of Breslau Bridge, traffic use uncreased on the Carey Avenue Bridge linking Wilkes-Barre and the boroughs of Plymouth and Larksville. Built in 1948, the existing bridge was not designed for today’s heavier traffic and in 1999 it needed emergency repairs due to a deteriorated beam.

The new structure is a 2,395-ft. (730 m) four- lane, 16-span prestressed I-beam bridge, noted Larry Meitzler, vice president of Engineering of Nyleve Corporation based in Emmaus, PA. Nyleve is the prime contractor for this project.

The new bridge’s official ground-breaking ceremony took place in Hanover Township on Feb. 6, 2001, Because of a shift in the positioning of one end of the structure from Plymouth Borough to Larksville, part of U.S. Route 11 also will be widened.

In addition, traffic signals will be updated on both sides of the river and a new signalized intersection will be built between Carey Avenue and U.S. Route 11 in Larksville.

The cost of the project is $27.5 million, split between federal and state sources — 80 and 20 per cent respectively.

The Carey Avenue Bridge is a design-build project for PennDOT. Nyleve’s design was drawn up with the aid of consultants Patel Chen Associates of Grantville, PA, and McTish Kunkel and Associates of Allentown, PA.

“Since we are involved from the beginning of the design phase, we can incorporate construction details and procedures into the project that allow us to utilize owned equipment and construction materials,” Meitzler pointed out.

The company currently has approximately 50 employees on site working on 12 of the structure’s 15 piers.

Equipment being utilized for the job includes an Joy 185 diesel air compressor, three P&H truck cranes — two 50-ton (45 t) 650A-TCs and a 90-ton (8.1 t) 790-TC) as well as a 110-ton American 999C crawler crane and a 28-ton Terex rough-terrain hydraulic crane. Pile driving work involved an APE D25 diesel hammer and ICE 416L and APE 150T Vibro hammers. Excavating is under way with two Caterpillar 225B hydraulic excavators, a Caterpillar D4B bulldozer. A tri-axle Mack dump truck also is part of Nyleve’s equipment fleet.

The first 13 piers are completed Meitzler said, and the setting of the prestressed beams is about 50-percent complete. “Further substructure work to be carried out includes both abutments and piers 14 15,” he added. “Superstructure placement will begin in early spring of 2002.”

Prestressed beams for the massive project are being furnished by Schuylkill Products Inc. (SPI Inc.), headquartered in Cressona, PA. Awarded the job in February 2001, the company began fabricating beams in June and will handle the manufacture and erection of the two, eight-span structure with 10 beams per span for a total of 160 beams.

Maximum beam length is 149 ft. (45.4 m) with a weight of 103 tons (92.7 t), said SPI Inc. On the south bound spans, the I-beams are 42.5 ft. (13 m) long, while the northbound spans’ beams are 49.5 ft. (15.1 m) long.

SPI Inc. started erecting the first consignment of beams mid-November. Beam fabrication will be completed in January 2002 with erection slated to begin again in the spring and be completed by the fall.

To move beams to the job site, the company will be utilizing two 50-ton (45 t) Ropco straddle carriers and eight Peterbilt tri-axle tractors equipped with N-14 Cummins engines, 18-speed Fuller transmissions and 46,000 lb. Eaton two-speed rear tandems.

Other equipment involved includes eight tri-axle Jeep dollies manufactured by Schnure Manufacturing of Honeybrook, PA, fitted with bunk assemblies specially built for the purpose by SPI Inc., as well as eight steerable dollies with five- and six-axle set ups custom-made by Elk River Manufacturing, based in Elk River, MN, to SPI’s specifications.

The Contractors

The Nyleve Bridge Corporation, founded in 1987, specializes in new bridge construction, bridge rehabilitation and heavy concrete work. They also perform other specialty work including tunnel construction, box culverts, concrete pumping stations, pile driving, sheet piling and concrete demolition.

The company’s previous clients include the PennDOT, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, the City of Philadelphia, Conrail and GATX.

Schuylkill Products Inc. has manufactured precast and prestressed products for 50 years, providing design, fabrication, delivery and erection services as a complete package to its clients.

The company specializes in bridge and highway work, which it has carried out in six northeastern states as well as the mid-Atlantic area. SPI also manufactures wall panels for warehouse and manufacturing facilities, parking garages, sports arenas and stadiums, correctional facilities as well as retaining walls and sound barriers.

It also offers clients custom-made precast or prestressed concrete products such as prison cells and concrete slabs for bridge deck repairs.

Previous PennDOT projects on which SPI Inc. has worked include a Susquehanna River bridge at Lock Haven, PA, and Exit 141 of I-81 at Hazleton, PA. CEG

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