Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bridging Trouble; Low Level of Mississippi Forces Contractors to Adjust as Barges Prove Hard to Maneuver

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bridging Trouble; Low Level of Mississippi Forces Contractors to Adjust as Barges Prove Hard to Maneuver

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS - Dramatically low water levels on the Mississippi River have delivered the latest obstacle to crews building the new Interstate 70 bridge just north of downtown St. Louis.

The low river has hampered the movement of barges delivering massive panels that provide the foundation to the driving surface, said Greg Horn, project director for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Delays are not expected to be as extensive as the spring and summer of 2010, when high water cost bridge builders 81 days. The joint venture of Massman Construction Co. of Kansas City, Traylor Bros. Inc. of Indiana and St. Louis-based Alberici Constructors was forced to add shifts and extend the workweek to make up time.

State transportation officials played down the significance of the latest complication.

"Who would have thought low water was going to be a problem?" Horn said Friday. "None of this is going to delay anything in a major way. But you know, a week or two. But that's still a year and a half out. A lot of things can happen."

The main span and other projects making up the new $667 million Mississippi River bridge still are expected to open to traffic in early 2014, Horn said. The $229.5 million main span is the largest of the contracts.

Horn said the 1,500-foot gap between the two main towers will take about 10 months to close - at a rate of about 130 to 150 feet a month.

Each of these so-called "field sections" hold pre-manufactured concrete deck panels. Each section is held up by two large conduits - containing anywhere from 31 to 74 individual cables, depending on the distance from the main towers.

The conduit stretches from one of the two bridge towers to the deck.

During construction, Horn said, the tension on the cables is individually adjusted each day based on the amount of equipment and material on the deck. …

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