The $10,075,436 replacement of the two bridges at Route 400 over Route 240 (Harlem Road) will be completed next year when Nichols, Long & Moore Construction replaces the two parallel bridges over two weekends. The work also includes the mill and overlay (13 lane mi.) with ADA compliance work on Route 240 from Orchard Park Road to Route 400 in the town of West Seneca in Erie County.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) project, which has some federal funding, is associated with the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council. The contract was awarded to NLMC in March and is expected to be complete in November 2016.
The bridge was originally constructed under a NYSTA contract in 1957. It is a three-span bridge, supported by two concrete cap beam piers (an east and west set).
“The undersides of both piers are spalled along with delamination on the top surface of the west pier,” said Susan S. Surdej, assistant to the regional director of NYSDOT. “The east set has been rated at four with the west set rated at three. One of the five column piers making up the east pier is rated three due to significant spalling and rebar exposure. The bridge fascias show moderate to heavy cracking and spalling, and are rated four. The primary steel members for span two are rated three. This rating is directly related to impact damage on Oct. 19, 1998, by an over-height vehicle.
“Four of the nine beams were bent and were heat-straightened during the bridge inspection subsequent to this repair work,” she said. “It was noted there were several small cracks in areas where new connector plates had been welded. Since the bridge is rated below four, it was decided the bridge needs to be replaced.”
More than 50,050 vehicles cross the bridge daily and the replacement structure will be a single-span structure with 16 precast, prestressed concrete deck bulb tees. The expected life span of the new bridge is 75 years with normal routine maintenance and for roadway, 30 years with normal routine maintenance.
“The whole structure will be overlayed with a 2.5 in. asphalt,” said Surdej. “The span length is 81 ft. with an overall width of 109 ft. The substructure for the bridge will be constructed below the existing structure in the first year. Once the substructure work is completed, the northbound road will be closed and traffic detoured.”
The main challenge for the DOT was to come up with a way to minimize the traffic impacts and impact on the travelling public.
“We came up with the accelerated bridge construction technique to replace the bridge over two long weekends and pave the roadway over another two long weekends,” said Surdej.
“The reason to choose this type of a structure and the accelerated construction technique was to minimize impact on the travelling public,” she added. “With a normal construction, it would have taken two seasons to replace this bridge. The accelerated technique is another tool in our toolbox. It will be considered for a project on a case-by-case basis. It is not always suitable. It depends on several factors such as: volume of traffic, type of facility, type of existing bridge, availability of other work zone traffic control plans, availability of detour routes, etc.
“The closure will be in place for a 92-hour window during a long weekend in July or August, when half of the existing bridge will be demolished. All the necessary work on the abutments to accept the beams, backfill the abutments, install the beams and pave the roadway will be completed. This process will be repeated for the southbound roadway the following weekend.”
Randy Callahan, NLMC’s project manager, is looking forward to the challenge of the bridge replacement.
“We started in April,” he said. “We’re laying down new asphalt pavement leading up to the bridge and new pavement on the stretch of road that connects to the I-90. Harlem Road will be milled and overlaid, and a section of it is getting a new curb, driveways and storm drains.
“We’re doing the roadway work first–the bridges are slated to be done in June, July and August of next summer. That is mostly because there are two 24-inch waterlines, a 10 ft. by 5 ft. precast, concrete box culver and a 42-in. RCP that have to be installed after removing existing drainage structures. They are all in the way of the new footings of the bridge.”
There also are overhead electric (NYSEG), and telephone (Verizon) and cable lines (Time Warner Cable) attached to the bridge piers, which are being relocated. The utility relocation will be done during the two construction seasons.
“We’ll start the bridge footings, which are used with micro piles and a concrete spread footing,” said Callahan. “The abutments are massive 4-ft., 8-in. (1.21 m, 20.32 cm) thick walls. The new bridges will be rebuilt on the same location, but they’ll be slightly shorter and wider. The roadwork is pretty much routine. We had to widen the embankment on all four corners of the bridges with new dirt that we haul in. We have to let that settle out this year and next year we’ll pave over it.”
When the major roadwork is out of the way, all efforts will be concentrated on the bridgework, which will be done over four weekends – from Thursday night to Monday morning.
“We only have four working days to demolish and rebuild each bridge,” said Callahan. “By putting in the pre-cast beams and accelerated concrete between the beams and installing the pre-cast approach slabs with accelerated concrete between them, the work will be much easier.”
The new bridges will each have two travel lanes and a shoulder lane. Two additional weekends will be needed to waterproof the bridge decks and then put asphalt over the waterproofing.
The accelerated bridge replacement will be a first for Callahan.
“It’s a challenge that we’re looking forward to,” he said. “When we initially bid the job, we developed a CPM schedule to determine if it was possible, and with the information that was given to us by our subcontractors and suppliers, we’re confident that it can be done. We have a demolition subcontractor who will demolish each bridge within a 12-hour shift.”
Traffic will be detoured while the bridgework is being done. Local traffic is not posing any problems for the ongoing work, save for a few instances on Harlem, which handles local residential and business traffic.
When the bridges are demolished, Callahan expects to recover 8,000 tons (7,257 t) of concrete, 40 tons (36.28 t) of steel and 7,000 tons (6,350 t) of asphalt. The roadwork is expected to yield 12,000 tons (10,886 t) of earthwork and 20,000 tons (18,143 t) of asphalt and stone. For the road and bridge construction, NLM anticipates that it will use 13,000 tons (11,793 t) of concrete, 46 tons (41.7 t) of steel, 26,000 tons (23,586 t) of asphalt and 15,000 tons (13,607 t) of earthwork.
The subcontractors brought in by NMLC for this project are: Sessler Wrecking for demolition, Brayman Construction for micro piles, Hohl Industrial for lifting services and Elderlee Inc. for guide rails.
A normal workday is single eight-hour shift, and each day sees nearly 30 NMLC and subcontractor personnel on the job.
“We typically do not work past November 10 on highways because the DOT has to be able to do snow removal operations starting that week until April,” Callahan said.
NLMC’s main shop is 15 mi. (24 km) away from the work site, and most of the equipment and vehicle repairs are done by local dealers at their locations.
“Sometimes the repairs are done on-site, but it seems to be cheaper to send the equipment to their shops,” said Callahan. “For just maintenance, our guys do the work in our yard. We have a night-time mechanic that does this work.”
Most of the unexpected breakdowns on the job consist of hose repairs and everyday wear and tear. Equipment operators are required to do daily visual and fluid checks of each machine before the start of the shift.
“The system is working fine,” said Callahan. “We use older models in terms of equipment. We do not lease. It’s just low overhead for us. We really don’t have a tremendous amount of machinery–just a couple of excavators, dozers, compactors and an asphalt-paving machine. We rent our dump trucks and sometimes rent equipment on as-needed basis, with the rental supplier providing the maintenance for us.”
For this project, NLM is renting a Link-Belt 145 zero swing excavator from OSC Equipment for some of the roadwork. For the road construction, Callahan is using Model 450 and 550 John Deere dozers, Model 200 and 300 Komatsu excavators and a Bomag 84-in. roller compactor rented from Admar.
Callahan is fully aware of the bridge infrastructure breakdown.
“The concrete abutments with the steel beams have just deteriorated and they need to be replaced,” he said. “The bridges have out-used the service life for the environment they are in–our Buffalo winters. The DOT has to use a lot of salt on the roads to keep the roads safe from ice and snow build up in the winters. This area had an accumulation of over 14 ft. of snow this year over five months of time.”
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