Reedy Creek Bridge replacement in W.Va. full of challenges

Bridges Case Studies
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Bridges have life spans, too. The old and failing Reedy Creek Bridge in Wirt County, W.Va., had been built in 1923. A project of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, the construction of a replacement bridge became a two-phase project.


The general contractor, SMH Construction Co. Inc., Bradley, W.Va., along with Gary Dodd, sales rep and lift planner from ALL Crane and Equipment Rental Corp. of Nitro, W.Va., conducted the bridge replacement in two stages. The first was the installation of a temporary replacement bridge while the old, structurally unsafe bridge was demolished. The second, months later, was the permanent installation of the new McClung Bridge, an arched pony truss type.


“The temporary bridge was lighter than the truss type we put in permanently,” said Dodd. “I went to the site and calculated which cranes we’d need for both phases. The GMK165, an all-terrain crane with excellent mobility and lifting capacity, was the best choice for the temporary replacement, while the GMK7550, was perfect for the completion of the job.”


Due to weather restrictions and the time needed to buttress the rocky banks beneath and around the crossing, the second phase of the job was delayed for several months. The old bridge was demolished simultaneously with the pouring of the concrete abutments and substructures needed to support the new truss bridge.


Then the 550-ton Grove GMK7550 crane moved in. “We could get away with something lighter for the temporary replacement, but the trusses chosen for the permanent bridge were 81,000 lb each,” Dodd noted. “Because of the weight involved, we added a MegaWingLift attachment to deflect pressure off the boom. That increased the lifting capacity of the 7550.” A soaring, spread-eagled weight disperser, the ingenious MegaWingLift automatically sets itself based on the weight of the lift.


Though the two phases of the bridge replacement went smoothly, the planning involved was extensive. “We staggered the delivery of the counterweights for the 7550 among 11 trucks and sent them off three days before the second lift,” Dodd said. “The amount of counterweight needed to offset those 81,000-lb trusses demanded it. The land area around the site was limited, so we had to utilize surrounding roads for trailer storage. Ultimately, we just stacked the empty trailers while the job was completed. We saved time by getting in and out in less than five days. That’s where the value was.”


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