Fixing the “Iron Curtain”

April 1, 2015

Built in 1956 to replace the original Cold War-era swing bridge in the location, the Cuyahoga River Bridge #1 is a steel vertical-lift bridge sometimes referred to as the “Iron Curtain”—likely due to its gateway-like location and vertical design. The 267-ft-long Iron Curtain is the last bridge that boats and other smaller vessels pass through before entering Lake Erie—as long as they are mindful of the bridge’s 97-ft vertical clearance.

The aging structure, used by Norfolk Southern Corp. for rail transport, has been the focus of a major replacement and improvement project. ALL Erection & Crane Rental Corp., part of the ALL Family of Companies, was brought in during the first quarter of 2015 by Ruhlin Construction, with whom they have a long-standing working relationship, to assist with removing old bull gear from the top of the bridge prior to its replacement. Bull gear, an essential part of a lift bridge, is the toothed gear that enables slow crawling with massive torque, thus helping to raise and lower the bridge.

The crane lift was planned about a year in advance using 3D Lift Plan, an Internet-based lift-planning program, to demonstrate parameters and possible conflicts with obstructions at the site. “This is a great tool that helps ensure the right crane for each customer’s specific needs,” said Mark Seymour of ALL Crane. “There is more to it than sizing and providing the proper machine and rigging. There are logistics involved with getting a machine of the magnitude we used onto the site, erected and ready to work when the customer needs it.” ALL worked closely with Ruhlin to accommodate Norfolk Southern, the U.S. Coast Guard, Burke Lakefront Airport and the Federal Aviation Administration, all of which were involved in scheduling the temporary shutdown of the bridge.

ALL provided a 600-USt (544 mt) Liebherr LTM 1500-8.1, equipped for the job with 87 ft of main boom and a 161-ft luffing jib, to handle removal of the bull gear and general maintenance needed during this portion of the project. This powerful mobile truck crane is ideally suited for work of this nature—high, heavy lifts with a short radius. ALL also provided a 120-USt (109-mt) Grove GMK 5120 as an assist crane for assembly and disassembly of the Liebherr, along with a 15-USt (13.6 mt) Dresser rough-terrain crane to traverse the train bridge on the railroad tracks. The Dresser was configured with a “high rail” package, which equips the crane with train wheels in addition to its rubber tires so it can travel on land as well as on a rail bridge.

“The job went extremely well and as planned,” said Seymour. “This line of work presents many challenges, even with the best planning. Skilled people and good relationships overcome those obstacles, especially during a week on the Cleveland lakefront with sub-zero February temperatures.”

Sponsored Recommendations

The Science Behind Sustainable Concrete Sealing Solutions

Extend the lifespan and durability of any concrete. PoreShield is a USDA BioPreferred product and is approved for residential, commercial, and industrial use. It works great above...

Proven Concrete Protection That’s Safe & Sustainable

Real-life DOT field tests and university researchers have found that PoreShieldTM lasts for 10+ years and extends the life of concrete.

Revolutionizing Concrete Protection - A Sustainable Solution for Lasting Durability

The concrete at the Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center is subject to several potential sources of damage including livestock biowaste, food/beverage waste, and freeze/thaw...

The Future of Concrete Preservation

PoreShield is a cost-effective, nontoxic alternative to traditional concrete sealers. It works differently, absorbing deep into the concrete pores to block damage from salt ions...