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Vital Kingshighway Viaduct Job Begins With Demo Work

While it’s safe to drive on, it has outlived its useful life.

Fri October 09, 2015 - Midwest Edition
Irwin Rapoport

The city of St. Louis closed the Kingshighway bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) tracks (between Southwest/Vandeventer and Shaw Boulevard) and Daggett Avenue on July 6 so that the 75-year-old bridge can be torn down and replaced — an $18 million project that was awarded to Kozeny-Wagner Inc.

The project, including construction, land acquisition and design, is the result of funding from the Federal Highway Administration (80 percent) and Union Pacific Railroad (20 percent). Kozeny-Wagner expects to deliver the new bridge in spring 2017 if the weather cooperates.

“The Kingshighway Viaduct is now 75 years old and has 55,000 vehicles per-day driving over the bridge,” said Deanna Venker, P.E., the city’s traffic commissioner. “The deck is saturated with salt and the concrete is deteriorating. There is significant spalling of rebar in several columns of the bridge. While it’s safe to drive on, it has outlived its useful life and we need to have this bridge replaced. We have bridge engineers that inspect our bridges on a two-year cycle unless deficiencies are found that would require a more frequent inspection. Maintenance plans are developed on their findings.”

URS/AeCOM designed the plans for the new Kingshighway viaduct.

“The bridge was designed to be 90 feet wide instead of 66 feet,” said Venker. “This will allow for three wider lanes of traffic in each direction and six feet sidewalks on each side, creating a safer roadway for drivers and pedestrians. The bridge over UPRR is single span — structural steel girders. The span length is 140 feet. There is a considerable skew (50 degrees) with this bridge due to the alignment of the UPRR tracks crossing under Kingshighway.

“The bridge over Daggett Avenue [80 feet] is single span — precast girders,” she said. “Each bridge has beam abutments with MSE Walls retaining the fill at the abutments and along the approaches and fill between the bridges. They chose the two shorter bridges to reduce the square footage of bridge deck and reduce maintenance costs.”

The work also included improvements to local roads. Shaw, east of Kingshighway, is being moved farther south from its present location to remove the existing “zig-zag” across Kingshighway, and a dedicated left turn lane will allow motorists on westbound Shaw to turn south on Kingshighway — currently no left turn is permitted.

Because the UPRR track is crucial to the movement of cargo by rail throughout the region, Kozeny-Wagner is working closely with the railway to not disrupt traffic.

Sean Kilian, Kozeny-Wagner’s project manager, said that his crews started the preliminary work in May to prepare for the first phase of the demolition.

“There were several detour routes and improvements that were needed before the bridge could be closed,” he said. “It’s going to be a two-year project by the time everything is completed and it has been reported in the local news that the closure could potentially last just as long. It’s a small footprint, but there is a considerable amount of work involved with some very deep sewers and junction chambers that will be very time consuming.”

The current bridge (three lanes in each direction, no sidewalks and 500 to 600 ft. [152 to 183 m] in length) is continuous, but the new design has two spans (also six lanes), along with MSE walls between them and at each end.

“Unless you go beneath the new structure,” said Kilian, “it will be difficult to tell that the existing bridge will be replaced by two bridges separated by MSE walls. One of these bridges will span Daggett Avenue and the other will span Union Pacific Railroad. The new structure will have aesthetic barrier wall on each side that runs the entire length giving the visual effect of a single structure to the travelling public.”

The demolition has just begun, following the completion of utility relocation work — gas, waterline, and electrical — and approval from the railroad.

Close coordination with the UPRR is essential so that the demolition does not impact rail operations.

“Everyone has to be on the same page as to what times we can safely perform the demolition,” said Kilian, “which we expect will take six to eight weeks. Daggett is the only road that goes beneath the bridge and it only feeds into one property which we are required to maintain access to for the duration of the work.”

Marschel Wrecking is responsible for the demolition, which is being done very carefully to respect local concerns.

“The bridge is in very close proximity to some old buildings in the area known as ’The Hill,’ within 15 to 20 feet, so explosives are not allowed on this project,” said Kilian. “Over the railroad, Marschel will be saw-cutting the existing deck, removing it in slabs and lifting the existing girders out of place, all while not allowing anything to fall on the existing tracks. Once we’re out of the railroad right-of way, they’ll demolish the remainder of the existing bridge superstructure and substructure with hydraulic hammers and excavators.”

The girders and rebar will be brought to a recycler and studies are ongoing to determine if the concrete can be used as fill material throughout the project.

“The MSE walls currently require both granular and earth fill behind them,” said Kilian, “so we’re hoping that the concrete is rubbelized to a point where we can reuse some of it on site.”

When fully demolished, the bridge is expected to yield 3,400 cu. yds. (2,599 cu m) of concrete, 500 tons (453.5 t) of reinforcing steel, and 350 tons of structural steel. The new bridge, roadwork, and underground infrastructure work will likely require the use of 8,500 cu. yds. (6,498.7 cu m) of concrete, 270 tons (244.9 t) of structural steel, 2,000 tons (1,814 t) of asphalt, 40,000 tons (36,287.3 t) of aggregate and 350 tons of reinforcing steel.

Other major subcontractors include: R.V. Wagner for flatwork, Gerstner Electric for signals and lighting, D&S Fence for guardrail and fencing, Sherrell Construction for asphalt installation, Site Systems Landscaping for erosion control and landscaping, Elastizell for lightweight cellular concrete, PJR & Associates for reinforcing steel installation, XL Contracting for sewer and water line installation, Drilling Service Company for deep foundations, and ATK Safety Supply for traffic control and striping.

The construction season in the St. Louis area generally goes from mid-March to mid-November.

“There is some work that can be done in the winter if the weather cooperates,” said Kilian. “You can hope to do storm sewers, some excavation, and some grading barring any deep freezes. It’s really kind of hit and miss in St. Louis from November through March.”

If the demolition can be completed by mid-September, Kozeny-Wagner can start drilling for the deep foundations of the abutments once all utilities have been relocated, which can proceed throughout the winter, and can also begin installing storm sewers that must be completed before the MSE walls can be built.

“The MSE walls themselves can be started once all preliminary work is completed,” said Kilian, “but there is some lightweight cellular concrete backfill to be installed behind portions of the walls which can be tricky to do during the winter if there are prolonged periods with temperatures at or below freezing.”

Planning is ongoing, but having fixed construction schedules is not possible at this point.

“We’re currently working with the city of St. Louis and designers on multiple value engineering proposals, which would redesign some of the storm sewer work and possibly change some of the foundation structures of the bridge abutments,” said Kilian. “The ultimate goal in these proposals is to decrease the overall construction time frame while also decreasing the overall cost.”

Kozeny-Wagner is no stranger to bridge work and a half mile north of the project, the company replaced another city bridge.

“We’re definitely looking forward to this challenge,” said Kilian. “It’s a major project in the heart of St. Louis, so bringing this project in on-time would be extremely beneficial to the commuters that use this route daily as well as a huge success for the city of St. Louis and Kozeny-Wagner.”

“When looking at the project and the staging of it, we noticed right away that there was an issue with the drainage — the water had nowhere to go if constructed as shown in the staging plans. Had we closed the road without doing some sewer work out-of-stage, we would have had a major problem on our hands that could have meant a closure of a detour route while it was being used. Fortunately, we recognized the issue and were able to perform our sewer tie-in while closing Shaw prior to the closure of Kingshighway.”

The input from everyone on the job site is crucial to getting the job done efficiently and safely.

“The more eyes that you have looking at the plans, the better,” he said. “The plans are over three hundred pages long which can make it easy to miss things. With the number of people assigned to the project both from Kozeny-Wagner and the city of St. Louis BPS, we have done a great job so far of making sure nothing is missed.”

Removing the debris from the demolition and the bringing in of construction material is expected to be problem-free.

“I was a little bit concerned about traffic prior to Kingshighway being closed and I wasn’t sure how the public was going to react to the detour in place,” said Kilian, “but we quickly realized that the travelling public in St. Louis really does a good job of avoiding the area and finding alternative routes. Traffic in the area is flowing very well and backups are minimal.”

Double-shifts and night shifts will be considered if the weather negatively impacts the schedule. On a daily basis, when the work gets into full swing, Kilian expects to have between 30 and 40 Kozeny-Wagner and subcontractor workers on site.

Meetings with city officials, subcontractors, the Missouri Department of Transportation and utilities are crucial and since May 5, meetings are held multiple times weekly to ensure the project runs smoothly.

Kozeny-Wagner’s main shop and yard is about 21 mi. (33.7 km) from the job site and mechanics are brought in when needed for the bridge and the work associated with nearby City Arch project, which also allows for equipment and crews to be shared when needed.

“Between us and the subcontractors, there will be numerous excavators, hydraulic breakers, skid steers, backhoes, high lifts, pavers, rollers and cranes of all sizes on the project,” said Kilian. “Currently, Marschel Wrecking has one Komatsu PC450 excavator, one Komatsu PC200 excavator, three Caterpillar 336 excavators, one Caterpillar 342 excavator, two Bobcat S650 skid steers, one JLG 800 man lift, one Genie 1103 man lift, three hydraulic breakers and three hydraulic material processors on site for the demolition process.

“Most of our owned equipment is relatively new,” he said “so an onsite mechanic is not necessary on this job. Also, due to the fact that we have subcontracted out some of the more equipment heavy items, we will not have a large amount of owned equipment on site.”

John Nichols has been Kozeny-Wagner’s equipment manager for the last 11 years

“We have a solid preventive maintenance program in place and we do not anticipate any substantial wear and tear repairs during the course of the project.” he said. “Technology plays a vital role in virtually every aspect of our operations and the technology in the equipment is no exception. We have found that the mechanical systems have continued to improve over the years resulting in a reduction in the amount of time needed for repairs and routine maintenance. Decreased time for repairs and maintenance has translated into increased productivity across the fleet at Kozeny-Wagner.

Kozeny-Wager purchases its equipment from local dealers. Asked if the company prefers to have newer equipment or maximize the lifespan of what it purchases, Nichols said, “Each piece of equipment is evaluated against a set of equipment-specific criteria. While some equipment may be turned over every couple of years, other equipment in the fleet could potentially have effective utilization within the fleet for several years. Accordingly, we do not necessarily have a preference one way or another over the fleet as a whole, but definitely have a preference relative to turnover strategy depending on the specific piece of equipment we are evaluating.

“We typically like to purchase our equipment,” he adds. “The importance of service agreements for us tend to depend on the type of equipment and the anticipated effective utilization lifespan. If the lifespan of the piece of equipment is anticipated to exceed a couple of years, the importance of the service agreement increases significantly. However, a service agreement is not that important for the company for equipment that will have a lifespan of a couple of years.

For this project, Kozeny-Wagner did not purchase or rent any equipment.

Kilian, via his surveys of the existing bridge, agrees that it has reached the end of its lifespan.

“Underneath the existing structure, concrete is falling from the intermediate columns and caps,” he said. “But the original work in 1938 appears to have been done well. It lasted for over 75 years and it has definitely done its job.”

He also appreciates how electronic communications are helping with efficiency and problem-solving on construction projects.

“It’s very important and provides a way to track items to ensure they are not missed or forgotten,” said Kilian. “When you send an email or text message, it’s a stored reminder of issues that need to be addressed. We also hold ongoing conversations with the workers in the field. We talk to them daily and welcome any input they have, whether it be safety issues on the job site, methods that could expedite construction, or ways to make it safer for the traveling public.”

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