Huey P. Long Bridge Span Lift Significant Technical Achievement
Full Bridge Closure Required June 19 and 20
JEFFERSON, La. – The phase involving the widening of the main bridge of the $1.2 billion Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project is being hailed as the most visually exciting in the project’s seven-year course, and a rare technical feat. On June 19, a massive bridge segment will be the first of three to be lifted in place using multiple barges and strand jacks. The four-span bridge, which serves as one of the three major Mississippi River crossings in the New Orleans metro area, kicked off its truss widening in November 2009 with Span 1.
On the remaining three spans, the span-by-span construction method will be used. This involves preassembled span sections bigger than the size of a football field to be hoisted into position using strand jacks. The first "Big Lift" – as is being referred to by the contractor – is scheduled for June 19 - 20, and will require a 48-hour closure to road, in addition to a period of restricted railroad and river traffic. Due to the size and weight of the span segments, the intended lifts are very rare, especially in bridge work. The contractor responsible for the Big Lift and Phase III is MTI – a joint venture of Massman Construction Co., Traylor Brothers, Inc. and IHI, Inc. When completed, the widen truss will allow the narrow bridge to have three 11-foot lanes, along with new inside and outside shoulders in each direction.
"The Huey P. Long Bridge Project is another example of the state’s commitment to improve our infrastructure and create opportunities for economic development through the TIMED Program. This program has already widened roadways and expanded ports benefitting the residents of Louisiana by connecting communities, creating opportunities for business, improving vital evacuation routes and making critical freight corridors safer and more efficient," said Sherri LeBas, P.E., Interim Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development. "From a technical achievement perspective, the segment lift is an exciting milestone for this bridge project, because of its magnitude and because it represents another step toward completion of this much-needed project for the residents and businesses in Jefferson Parish and the New Orleans area."
To carry out this first "Big Lift", MTI composed a methodical plan. First, a four-barge assembly connected by three sectional barges was prepared. On the completed barges, two large stability frames were assembled to help support the bridge span section during the lift. At the same time, lifting towers, which will hold the strand jacks, were installed on each side of Pier II and Pier III. Currently, the construction of the pre-assembled span section on the barges is complete. On the day prior to the lift, the barges will be moved under the bridge following a well choreographed sequence. After the barges are positioned at their intended location, the span section along with the stability frames will be lifted approximately 135 feet using four 900-ton strand jacks. Once the span section is secured, the stability frames will be lowered to the barges and the span section will slide in 13 feet to its final position. The hoisted span segment measures 528 feet long and weighs 2,650 tons. A lift of this size and scope is extremely uncommon in bridge building.
"A major challenge is coordinating construction efforts to minimize the effect on the public and the traffic that traverses the river" explains Tim Todd, Project Engineer for Louisiana TIMED Managers. During this event, the contractor requested a stoppage of river, road and railroad traffic during critical parts of the lift.
The event will entail a 48-hour complete closure of roadway traffic during a weekend period. The bridge carries an average of 50,000 vehicles a day.
As to the traffic closures, Steve Underwood, Project Manager with MTI, stated "it has taken a lot of coordination between the Coast Guard, New Orleans Public Belt Railroad and DOTD to make this lift happen." According to Underwood, the two factors which could postpone the lift from the June 19 target date will be high wind and a high river level. If the lift is unable to happen, MTI has secured June 26 as an alternate date.
The $453 million contract to widen the truss is expected to be completed in 2012. By then, an estimated 17,500 tons of structural steel and 750,000 new bolts will be used during this phase of the project. The entire Huey P. Long Bridge Widening project cost is estimated at $1.2 billion. Construction on the original 75-year old structure began in 1932 and was completed in December 1935 at a cost of $13 million. Today, it is considered one of the longest railroad bridges in the United States.
DOTD encourages the public to follow up-to-date information about the Big Lift on the Huey P. Long Twitter page at www.twitter.com/hueypbridge and on Facebook at http://bit.ly/HPLFB. Those who wish to watch the Big Lift can do so by accessing two web cameras available on the project website at http://bit.ly/HPLWebCams.
For more information or high resolution images, contact Indira Parrales, Public Outreach Office at 504-731-4200 or Jodi Conachen, DOTD Communications Director, (225) 379-1275. The Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project is a TIMED (Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development) Program project. The TIMED Program was created by Act 16 of the 1989 Louisiana Legislature, was voted for by the people and is the single largest transportation program in state history. The $5.2 billion improvement program includes widening 536 miles of state highways, new construction or improvements to three major bridges projects and the improvements to both the Port of New Orleans and the Louis Armstrong International Airport. The Program is designed to enhance economic development in Louisiana through an investment in transportation projects.
As one of 16 TIMED projects, the completed Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project will include three 11-foot lanes in each direction, along with new inside and outside shoulders across the bridge. The project also will include construction of new roadway approaches that will provide signalized intersections at Bridge City Avenue and Jefferson Highway. The entire project is scheduled to be complete by 2013.