It takes a team to build a bridge

Sept. 16, 2015

In March of this year, the Illinois Department of Transportation (ILDOT) announced a $35 million bridge reconstruction project for all southbound bridges on Illinois Rte. 171 (First Avenue). The project began March 30 and has continued throughout the year. Central Contractors Service, a member of the ALL Family of Companies, was tapped by bridge erection contractor S&J Construction for lifting assistance. S&J and Central have worked on projects together for more than 20 years, and Central has been a key partner in many of the Rte. 171 bridge replacements, each of which has required months of advance planning.

The bridge they tackled in August was a great example of teams working effectively together, with the right equipment and the right people for the job, to get the job done safely and on time—even in challenging working conditions along a river. At the I-55 Interchange over the Des Plaines River in the village of McCook, the old bridge needed to be removed and replaced with a new one.

Central provided two all-terrain cranes that excel at heavy lifting in tight spaces: a 165-USt Grove GMK5165 and a 120-USt Terex AC 100. Central also provided experienced operators for each machine. All they had to do was get the cranes into the proper positions to make the picks.

Underneath the bridge, on either side of the water and immediately adjacent to the bridge itself, S&J had causeways built to allow Central to situate the cranes correctly. The convenient access would enable the machines to work in tandem, removing the old structure, picking new steel beams, and splicing them in the middle. Each beam weighed anywhere from 16,500 to 17,500 lb.

“Everything went smoothly,” said Paul Urbanski, sales manager at Central. “We have assisted with several bridges in that area. With jobs like this, it’s a real benefit to have an experienced team and the right equipment. We work together well and can handle multiple projects like these, back-to-back, day after day, until all the work is completed.”

Major projects like this one can negatively affect greater Cook County traffic, so having the work completed carefully, safely, and on time is of premium importance to ILDOT so they can reassure the public that delays are temporary. During the ongoing multiple bridge-replacement project, all southbound traffic was diverted to the northbound lanes of IL-171. The project was expected to be complete by the end of October.

Central has played a key role in the bridge deconstruction and reconstruction work that’s transforming IL-171. That’s because when the job needs to be handled by an experienced crane team who works well with others, has the right equipment and brings truckloads of experience, they’re ALL you need.

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