Three Generations of Manitowocs at Work on NJ Bridge

Fri November 05, 2004 - Northeast Edition

Nine Manitowoc Crane Group (MCG) cranes are playing a key role in the task of replacing the 80-year-old Victory swing-bridge over the Raritan River in Perth Amboy, NJ.

With fix spans 110 ft. (34 m) above the water — high enough to allow ships to pass beneath — the new Victory Bridges will be the first segmental precast bridges in the state and will feature the largest non-suspended spans in the United States — 460 ft. (140 m).

Contractor George Harms Construction Co. (GHCC) has been on site since February. While the project has been dogged by high winds and heavy rain, the first of the $110-million project’s two bridges opened to traffic in June.

The reason for such rapid progress is that sections of the bridges are constructed off-site and then simply erected on site. This means swift progress once the enabling foundation work has been completed. That’s where the cranes come into play, which include a model 555, two model 777s, one model 888, a model 2250, two model 4100W RINGER units and two Grove RTs — all wholly owned by GHCC.

The sections are constructed in a factory in Virginia and barged to the site. While this was occurring, the 230-ton (209 t) model 888, fitted with a Bauer 3500 fly drill had been working around-the-clock to install the 6- to 8-ft. (2 to 2.4 m) caissons and rock sockets.

The 150-ton (136 t) model 555 has been active doing pile-driving and sheeting work, while built up on flexifloats and sited mid-river, the 350-ton (318 t) model 4100Ws are fitted with 260 ft. (79 m) of boom and are doing 120-ton (109 t) picks off the water.

The 300-ton (272 t) model 2250 is doing a combination of support lifting and loading/unloading of the barges.

Perhaps the most demanding work goes to the 200-ton (180 t) model 777, which sits on the bridge deck and whose job it is to set the bridge segments into the launching gantry. Fitted with a short base boom of 70 ft. (21 m) the combined weight of the crane and its more than 90-ton (81 t) picks are just about as much as the part-completed bridge can bear.

“Not only do clients get the job they want, we pride ourselves on finishing on time or ahead of schedule,” said Tom Hardell, GHCC’s president and COO. “The secret to achieving this is to keep control over all the major processes — and therefore we don’t tend to subcontract out elements but do the work ourselves.”

Although the whole project is not due for completion until February 2006, motorists saw a substantial improvement in crossing times when the southbound bridge opened in June. The lanes are wider, there is a crossing lane for pedestrians and cyclists — and passing ships will no longer cause the road crossing to be suspended.

This commitment to doing the work itself has resulted in major investments in equipment in MCG products. “Of course, we like to see our cranes working all the time,” said Hardell, himself a key member of MCG’s product focus group, “but no matter what, we believe there is value in investing in the best equipment available.”

Hardell said the cranes will be kept in the company for use on future projects.

“We’ve very satisfied with the performance of these cranes,” he said, “and it confirms the wisdom of our decision in the early 1990s to standardize to the Manitowoc Crane Group’s products.”

“This job features some of our finest product of the past 40 years. Harms is a great company and a great supporter of the Manitowoc Crane Group,” said Bruce Buchan, Manitowoc Crane Group’s vice president of lattice boom and mobile telescopic sales for North America.