PennDOT Begins Replacing ’Seriously’ Deficient Span

Tue December 29, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Rupp


Joseph B. Fay Co. used a Cat 336D excavator and a Cat 740 rock truck in preparation for the project access roads.
Joseph B. Fay Co. used a Cat 336D excavator and a Cat 740 rock truck in preparation for the project access roads.

The Six Mile Creek Bridge project in Erie County, Pa., is part of Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell’s Accelerated Bridge Program, which is adding $200 million a year to the mix of federal and state funds the state invests in bridges. In 2009, the overall investment in bridges in Pennsylvania totaled more than $1.6 billion.

In spite of nearly tripling spending on bridge repairs over the past seven years, Pennsylvania has the highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the nation, as reported by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). But the Gov.’s Accelerated Bridge Program has seen results. This year, for the first time in 10 years, the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state has declined, from a peak of 6,034 in late 2008 to 5,783 at the end of October.

The Six Mile Creek project is located on I-90 between exits 32 and 35, with the bulk of the work taking place at the three-span steel plate girder bridge over Six Mile Creek at Mile Marker 33. Both of the eastbound and westbound existing bridges will be removed and replaced. Two lanes of traffic will be established for the eastbound and westbound lanes throughout the project with the exception of occasional lane closures during “off-peak” hours.

According to The National Bridge Registry, Six Mile Creek Bridge was originally built in 1959 and later rehabilitated in 1987. It has a deck truss design similar to the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, Minn., that collapsed in August 2007. The bridge was inspected in July 2009 and declared structurally deficient, with a superstructure condition rating of “serious” (3 out of 9) and a sufficiency rating of 21.8 (out of 100).

The design of the fabricated steel plate girder structures is a modified design/build effort not previously used in District 1-0. The design was provided by SAI Consulting Engineers Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pa., which teamed up with Joseph B. Fay Company of Russellton, Pa. for the bid.

The project will be completed in four phases.

Phase 1: Establish methods and devices included in the Traffic Control Plan in order to provide notice and protection to workers and general public; construct temporary crossovers in order to shift westbound traffic into median; construct project access roads along 1-90 and Clark Road; Spring of 2010 — widen and reconstruct the westbound lanes and construction of proposed westbound structure.

Phase 2: Shift westbound traffic to proposed westbound lanes; execute Traffic Control Plan; shift eastbound traffic into temporary crossover pattern; demolish existing eastbound bridge; reconstruct the eastbound lanes and construction of the proposed eastbound bridge.

Phase 3: Execute Traffic Control Plan; shift eastbound traffic from temporary crossover to proposed eastbound; demo existing westbound bridge; remove temporary access roads.

Phase 4: Execute Traffic Control Plan; complete restoration and median shaping.

Fay is performing the bridge demolitions, new bridge construction, roadway embankments and excavation for temporary access roads. Norwin Construction of Irwin, Pa., is laying the sub-base and bituminous pavement. Alvarez Steel Erectors of Finelyville, Pa., will be erecting steel provided by High Steel Structures Inc. of Lancaster, Pa. Penn Line Service Inc. of Scottdale, Pa., is installing new guiderails, and Protection Services Inc. based in Harrisburg, Pa., is providing traffic control.

Fay’s average weekly workforce consists of 35 employees. They predominately work five 10-hour days per week with some occasional weekends. Fay is currently in the excavation stage, using a variety of equipment including three 300 Komatsu excavators; three 400 Komatsu excavators; a Caterpillar 336D excavator; a Link-Belt rough-terrain crane; Caterpillar D5, D6 and D8 dozers; an 84-in. (213 cm) Caterpillar smooth drum roller; an 84-in. Ingersoll Rand smooth drum roller; and a Caterpillar 815 compactor.

The project faced a delay in Fall 2008 due to a legal challenge filed by Brayman Construction Corporation of Saxonburg, Pa. Brayman objected to the Two-Step Best Value Approach bidding process.

“During this process, PennDOT entertained letters of interest from potential contractors. We then selected the three most qualified companies and asked those three to submit formal bids. The lowest bidder was chosen,” explained Rich Kirkpatrick, PennDOT press secretary.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of PennDOT, allowing the department to use the Two-Step process for this project only. PennDOT has filed an appeal to this decision with the State Supreme Court, seeking to have the process approved for future use as well.