Indy’s North Split sets ambitious course with 50 bridges in 18 months

Sept. 8, 2021

An ambitious highway reconstruction project in Indianapolis will see the construction of 50 new bridges in just 18 months. When completed, the North Split interchange of I-65 and I-70 will have an entirely reimagined traffic flow to eliminate “weaving” merges that are causing above-average accident rates.

Obviously, any road project that dramatically reconfigures traffic flow will be a complicated one. Here, the addition of the more than four-dozen new bridges only adds to the complexity. And it is happening on the second-most traveled highway in a metropolitan area. How do you even begin to manage such a large-scale project? Robert E. Adams III, structures assistant project manager for Superior Construction, is philosophical about the undertaking. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” said Adams.

Providing cranes for beam-setting for each bridge is Central Rent-A-Crane, a member of the ALL Family of Companies. Central’s project estimator, Tim Welty, says the 50 bridges represent a cross-section of sizes, necessitating access to a variety of crane types and capacities for the duration of the 18 months. 

“Some spans are short enough that a single crane performing single picks will be sufficient,” said Welty. “But the majority of the bridge work will require two cranes and dual picks to set beams.” Welty estimates that cranes with capacities between 200 tons and 550 tons will be called upon the most over the course of the project, although he expects larger cranes in the 600- to 900-ton range will be used occasionally to set larger beams. 

At press time, three bridges had already been completed, the largest of which required two cranes with capacities of 350 tons and 550 tons.

Welty says he expects Central Rent-A-Crane to source all but the very largest equipment locally from its two in-state yards. ALL’s nationwide network of 33 branches is also at his disposal when it comes time to truck in the 600- and 900-ton machines.

Adams says he is working from a master schedule and that each individual bridge project will start ramping up in earnest approximately six to eight weeks before ground is to be broken. This will give his project partners, like Central, time to assemble their resources.

Welty praises Superior’s approach to project prep. “Superior is using drones to take up-to-date footage of jobsites twice a week,” said Welty. “When we have our pre-job huddles, they’re able to superimpose the footage over maps of the jobsite so we can see how it looks now. It’s a valuable tool for putting everyone in the right frame of mind. We can see exactly how we need to interact with the jobsite.”

Once these planning meetings are completed, Welty says Central Rent-A-Crane executes its own protocols to line up manpower and equipment for the scheduled lifts. It involves recommending the best equipment for the job, not just in terms of capacities, but also to match the lift equipment to the type of work and the environment in which the work is being conducted. Next, Central’s lift specialists coordinate with internal dispatch to reserve the machines for the duration of the bridge work. There is also a site visit in concert with the customer to work through any ground conditions issues, to identify specific placement of the crane, and to determine whether there is a need for the customer to coordinate with state agencies to reroute existing traffic.

It is a process that will happen 50 times throughout the project, which, in addition to the new bridges, also includes 27 lane miles of new pavement. Upon completion, the new North Split is expected to improve the safety and operations of the I-65/I-70 interchange.


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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