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Wallace, DOT Replace Two U.S. 90 Bridges in Alabama

Wed January 23, 2002 - Southeast Edition
Beverly B. Nichols

Replacing bridges on a hilly, congested area in Spanish Fort, AL, is not a daunting task to the prime contractors, Wallace Construction Company Inc. of Columbia, MS. That’s the firm that is building the new U.S. 90 bridges that give motorists access to the Battleship Parkway which crosses Mobile Bay into the city. These bridges, each two-lanes wide and 186 ft. (57 m) long, will replace the obsolete structures that did not meet present standards for height. They have been demolished.

In Spanish Fort, Spanish Fort Blvd., a divided road, connects Highway U.S. 31 to the Parkway while U.S. 90, also a divided road, joins it there. The new bridges, like the old ones, will cross over the west bound lane of U.S. 90 but they will be 4.5 ft. (1.4 m) higher.

The replacement work has required a detour for travel on U.S. 31. To avoid the detour, which is more than 1 mi. (1.6 km) in distance, local officials and some residents wanted the bridges replaced one-at-a-time. But the Alabama State Department of Transportation (ALDOT), who is financing the project, insisted on the joint construction as being faster, more efficient and less costly. The bridges carry a price tag of $2.3 million.

Once the preliminary preparations started in January 2001 were sufficiently under way, actual construction on the bridges began in March. Interviewed at the site, Odell Nelson, site superintendent of Wallace Inc., said that a brief delay occurred for pre-casting the pilings but the work is now on schedule for a completion date of this month. He indicated that “work has gone surprisingly well.”

The construction requires 128 14-in. (36 cm) square pilings which support the eight circular columns that will hold the bridges. The piles have been driven 60 ft. (18 m) into the ground. Nelson indicated, when interviewed in late 2001, that his crew of 12 “within the next few weeks, will be pouring concrete.”

In preparation for this, Wallace Construction has two cranes (American 5299) with an American flag displayed on each top, ready at the site. Other equipment on site includes a John Deere 40038, a Komatsu 150 and a Cat 312B.

The ALDOT also has staff at the construction site. Project Inspector Charles Vines keeps daily records on the progress being made. With him are Ronnie Perioux, division engineer; Vince Calametti, construction engineer; and Michael Cryar, project engineer.

Vines reported that “3,000 cu. yds. of unclassified dirt had been moved and 12,881 cu. yds. of barrow have been brought in since the preparatory work began last January.”

The dirt will be used to build up the eastern slope of the hillside 7.97 ft. (2.4 m) and the western slope 7.1 ft. (2.2 m). Two curves in the terrain require different roadways.

Grady Ralls & Sons of Evergreen, AL, provided a staff of eight to handle the dirt work; Abrason & Sons of Birmingham, AL, poured the barrier walls and bridge rails; reinforcement rods were provided by Lulidge Steel of Sidell, LA; and Whitworth Construction of Mobile provided and placed the required signs for detours.

The David Volkert Engineering Control Firm of Mobile, the consulting engineers, were responsible for the design.

According to a transportation department survey, it was estimated that about 12,000 vehicles crossed the previous bridges each day.

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