Bridge honoring hockey legend under construction at U.S.-Canada border

April 15, 2020

The Gordie Howe International Bridge, slated to open in late 2024, will revolutionize vehicle travel between the U.S. and Canada by crossing the Detroit River to connect Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, Ontario. It will provide an alternative international crossing for passenger and truck traffic at the busiest land border crossing between Canada and the U.S. With a huge budget of $5.7 billion and a length of 1.5 miles, the project is named for an equally outsized figure, Canadian-born hockey legend Gordie Howe, who spent 25 seasons with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings—amassing four Stanley Cups, six MVPs, and 23 All-Star honors.

Ground preparation for the bridge is nearing completion, with Malcolm Drilling responsible for drilling foundation shafts up to 100 ft in length and socketed into bedrock below the bridge bed. The company contracted with Jeffers Crane Service, a member of the ALL Family of Companies, to provide crane support for on-site construction of drilled shaft rebar cages. Full-length cages are installed into the drilled shafts to reinforce the concrete.

Jeffers provided a 200-USt Link-Belt 248 HSL crawler crane for the work, configured with 165 ft of main boom and a full counterweight package of 142,900 lb. “These are no ordinary rebar cages,” explained Jim Glider, project manager for Malcolm Drilling. “Each ends up at 125 ft long and 10 ft in diameter and weighs 145,000 lb.” 

“The outer cage is made of 24 double bundles of No. 18 rebar running full length,” said Glider. “The hoops are double-wrapped 6 in. on center, making for 250 rings.”

The 248 HSL is literally made for steel construction and bridge work, with input from customers in these sectors driving much of Link-Belt’s design process. It is a compact and strong 200-USt machine with minimal tail swing that fits well into tight spaces. It’s also loaded with safety features and technical controls that are ideally suited for customers who will be taking the controls during long rentals. In this case, the 248 HSL was on the site for approximately six months, helping a 10-man crew to construct cages.

The cages are built horizontally, resembling long, skeletal tubes when they are complete. They are large enough for grown men to walk inside without ducking, with plenty of leftover headroom. After construction is complete, each cage is dual-picked to a vertical position for placement in the shaft. The 248 HSL acted as a tailing crane for this process, while one of Malcolm’s own cranes was the lead. 

“The 248 HSL was the ideal machine for our needs,” said Glider. “Our own duty-cycle cranes were configured with short booms for the quick drops of clamshell buckets associated with excavation. Having the 248 HSL configured with 165 ft of boom allowed us to dedicate it to the cage-construction work and then to perform additional duty as the assist crane for placing the finished cages into the shafts.”

Editor's Note: Scranton Gillette Communications and the SGC Infrastructure Group are not liable for the accuracy, efficacy and validity of the claims made in this piece. The views expressed in this content do not reflect the position of the Roads & Bridges' Editorial Team.

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