The “Big Lift II” operation of the Huey P. Long Bridge, which began Saturday, Nov. 20, was completed in 40 hours and roadway traffic was opened 8 1/2 hours ahead of schedule.
The massive 503-ft bridge segment was the second of three to be lifted in place using multiple barges and strand jacks. The four-span bridge serves as one of the three major Mississippi River crossings in the New Orleans metro area.
“MTI – a joint venture of Massman Construction Co., Traylor Brothers Inc. and IHI Inc. – and HNTB performed superbly in all phases of planning, construction engineering and executing a lift that made a very difficult construction milestone look easy,” stated Tim Todd, project engineer with Louisiana TIMED Managers.
On Saturday, the barges moved into place at 7:30 a.m. The steel structure began to be lifted at 1:30 p.m. using four 900-ton strand jacks. This structure was the lightest of the three scheduled to be lifted, weighing over 5 million lb with its stability frames and measuring 503 ft. The actual lift lasted 7 hours and it involved a 122-ft continuous vertical lift.
In the first morning hours of Sunday, the temporary floor beams began to be installed. Three hours later, the final 18-in. pin, which helped secure the bridge segment, was set. By 11:15 a.m., the stability frames used to stabilize the structure during the lift were lowered to the barges using smaller strand jacks. When completed, the widened truss will allow the narrow bridge to have three 11-ft lanes, along with new inside and outside shoulders in each direction.
Due to the size and weight of the span segments, these lifts are very rare, especially in bridge work. The third and final span lift is schedule for April 2011.
By the end of the project an estimated 17,500 tons of structural steel and 750,000 new bolts will be used during this truss phase of the project. The entire Huey P. Long Bridge Widening project cost is estimated at $1.2 billion.
To view a time-lapse video of the second lift, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY301yiAq4s