Tandem cranes “beam up” steel for bridge

March 08, 2016

The Illinois Tollway (I-90) is in the midst of a 15-year, $12 billion capital improvement program. At the Meacham Road Interchange near the northwest Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, a $51 million bridge and ramp project is underway. The project entails reconstructing the bridge that carries traffic over I-90 and building two new ramps to and from Meacham Road to I-90. The bridge reconstruction will incorporate a total of 17 steel beams supported by concrete abutments on either side of the roadway.

In 2015, bridge subcontractor Metropolitan Steel hired Illinois’ Central Contractors Service, a member of the ALL Family of Companies, to lift and set the beams for the bridge’s southbound lanes. Metropolitan Steel has worked with Central for a decade, and they’ve come to count on Central’s reputation for reliability, service, and their large, well-maintained fleet of equipment—not to mention Central’s wide-ranging bridge construction experience. So when the planning began to set the beams for the bridge’s northbound lanes, Metropolitan again chose Central to provide cranes and operators. The beam picks were scheduled for February 2016.

The 100,000-lb beams were lifted and swung over the I-90 highway during temporary overnight lane closures, requiring months of planning. Central provided two all-terrain cranes to perform the lifts in tandem, sharing the heavy loads: a 450-USt Tadano ATF 400G and a 550-USt Grove GMK7550. The Tadano, configured with 304,235 lb of counterweight, handled its 50,000-lb share of the lifts at a 105-ft radius with 132 ft of main boom. The Grove, with 176,300 lb of counterweight, lifted its 50,000-plus lb at a 95-ft radius with 132 ft of main boom.

Tandem crane lifts of massive steel beams at night, with traffic nearby, can be complex work but with the right equipment, operators, experience and precise planning, it can be done safely with relative ease. Eight beams were lifted and set over four nights of work, with a four-hour work window each night. Two beams were set each night, with traffic stopped at 15-minute intervals on both I-90 and southbound Meacham Road (handling all Meacham bridge traffic during construction) when the actual lift, swing and set of the beams took place.

“All-terrain cranes are excellent for bridge work like this. ATs offer great mobility both on and off the road, have the agility to handle uneven ground on job sites, and the right range of lifting capacities to handle the heavy loads,” said Paul Urbanski, sales manager at Central Contractors Service. ALL’s AT fleet is one of the largest in the industry, with capacities up to 900 USt.

The ALL Family of Companies offers regional distribution of its all-terrain fleet, ensuring that Central can deliver the right machines for the job—even two specifically chosen to work in tandem—when and where customers need them.

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