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PA Bridge Project Features Unique Replacement

Thursday, October 24, 2019

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The state of Pennsylvania will be getting a bridge-replacement first in Pittsburgh, where the Shaler Street Bridge, located in the Duquesne Heights neighborhood, will be replaced with a pair of 70-foot-long, 270-ton bridge spans more than 600 feet long.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the work is part of a $14.3 million contract that went to Swank Construction Co. To facilitate the project, Toronto-based firm Mammoet provided a self-propelled modular transport.

Pittsburgh Bridge Replacement

Jason Zang, the assistant district executive for construction for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s 11th district, noted that there was nothing terribly “exotic” about the project, but that they were “using a very specialized piece of equipment to move [the bridge] into place.”

The equipment provided by Mammoet will implement a series of small hydraulic trailers, which can each hold 30 metric tons. The trailers will be used to move the bridge to where it needs to be. The project is an example of accelerated bridge replacement, a choice that will cut down on the time traffic will be negatively impacted. (Traditional construction would have warranted a six- to eight-month closure.)

Zang also noted that while the spans were similar to others, they had a unique element: beveled steel plates along the bottom that will allow the transports to lift them. (The spans were created at the exact angles they will be set in place.)

“There’s a lot more attention to dimensions and elevation to make sure it fits together right,” Zang said. “With this, once the concrete cures, it has to fit.” 

A closure was implemented the weekend of Sept. 7 to remove the old span, and the new spans will be put into place Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, with the opening occurring two to three weeks later. How the bridge will be exactly placed has yet to be determined, however. Currently, plans include a temporary ramp across the highway median, if not further down where the two sides of the road are a bit more parallel.

Mammoet’s resume for lifting heavy things includes a sunken Russian submarine in the Bering Sea and a 1.5 million-ton crane in Mexico. What makes the Shaler project unique for the company is that the bridge spans were created at a 14-degree angle, noted Patrick Heer, a project engineer for Mammoet.

Previously, in 2016, the PennDOT used precast concrete pieces, which were lifted by crane, for the replacement of a small bridge in East Pittsburgh.


Tagged categories: Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC); Bridges; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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