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Goethals Girder Falls, Halts Work

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

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Work on the new Goethals Bridge site was stopped late last week when one of its enormous support girders fell during installation.

The 220,000-pound girder was reported to have dropped 50 feet after being positioned on top of two concrete caps. The incident occurred at 7 p.m. Friday (Oct. 16), according to the New York Daily News.

No one was injured during the mishap, although equipment beneath it suffered damage, Staten Island Advance Media indicated. The property damage was classified as minor.

"There were no injuries and no impact on travel following the fall yesterday evening of a bridge girder shortly after its installation atop two column caps," the Port Authority said in a statement cited by NJ Advance Media on Saturday (Oct. 17).

"The girder is approximately 170 feet long and weighs approximately 220,000 pounds. Damage to other equipment appears to be minor and is being assessed."

The accident is still under investigation, according to Port Authority spokesman Neal Buccino. A forensic engineering investigation is underway by the developer, NYNJ Link, and its contractor, he said. 

According to the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey website, NYNJ Link Developer LLC is a consortium formed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, and Kiewit Infrastructure Company.

The group is responsible for the design, construction and financing of the replacement bridge and will provide maintenance for 35 years after substantial completion of the bridge.

No additional girders will be placed until further notice.

Reaching Milestones

Placing the first of the 397 massive girders was seen as a project milestone, according to an Oct. 14 story in NJ Advance Media.

Fabricated in PA, the first 176-foot, 110-ton birder arrived at the Elizabeth, NJ, work site the previous week.

Prior to this stage, the concrete support columns were constructed in ascending sections, with concrete being poured into a mold set around the rebar already in place.

Shafts were drilled as far as 60 feet down to bedrock, then filled with reinforced concrete to enhance the columns’ stability.

A concrete cap was formed across the pairs of columns by pouring concrete into a temporary mold that was built on top of them.

The giant girders were to be placed on top of these column caps by cranes, linking the columns and providing support for the roadway.

After placing the girders on top of the concrete columns between the bridge abutments and V-shaped pylons supporting the main span, a series of girders more than 100 yards in length would be run parallel to provide the foundation of the roadway.

Crossbeams and deck slabs would complete the road surface.

A Smarter, Safer Bridge

The $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge replacement project is the first new bridge build for the Port Authority in more than 80 years, since the George Washington Bridge opened in 1931, as previously reported.

Connecting Elizabeth to Staten Island, the first span in the replacement is being built alongside the current 87-year-old Goethals Bridge. Once the first span is complete, the original structure will be demolished, as the second span will be constructed in its place.

Although the first span will carry traffic in each direction while the second span is built, when complete, each span will carry three lanes of traffic in one opposing direction, east- or westbound.

The travel lanes on the replacement bridge are being expanded to 12-feet wide to meet current standards, up from the current 10-foot-wide lanes which are deemed too narrow for truck traffic.

Pedestrian and bicycle access is added by way of a 10-foot-wide pedestrian walkway/bike lane that will run along the northern edge of the NJ-bound lanes.

While the old bridge lacked shoulder areas, a 12-foot-wide outer shoulder and 5-foot-wide inner shoulder will run in each direction on the new spans, allowing for emergency access and easing congestion during peak use periods.

The new bridge is touted as offering improved safety and performance conditions because it meets current geometric design, structural integrity, security and seismic standards, as well as reduced lifecycle costs.

The spans will also be monitored via smart bridge technology. Roadway weather information systems will collect environmental data such as wind speed, visibility and pavement temperature. A traffic detection system will provide alerts when traffic buildup signals a need for incident response.

Work on the cable stay bridge began in May 2014, and the first of two spans is slated to be finished by January 2017. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2018.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Concrete; Cranes; North America; Quality Control; Roads/Highways

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