Out With The Old

Features - Feature

After demolishing the old I-244 bridge, Tulsa-based Manhattan Road & Bridge’s focus turns to building a new one.

August 31, 2012
CDR Staff

With road repairs to one bridge done and demolition of another behind it, Manhattan Road & Bridge (MR&B) is now working on construction of a new, multi-purpose, westbound bridge on Interstate 244 in Tulsa. The locally based company began the nearly $64 million project in late spring 2011 and is expected to complete it during the course of 2012 and 2013.

The new bridge’s top deck is designed to carry four lanes of traffic across the Arkansas River, with a bottom deck designed for future rail use, although the rail lines won’t be put in as part of this project. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic areas will also be part of the bottom deck. The new, completed bridge, slated to be finished in late 2013, will be about 300 feet longer than its predecessor.

MR&B began the construction phase as it was wrapping up demolition of the existing bridge, drilling new piers while taking down the supports for the previous structure that was built in 1967. The bridge was considered functionally obsolete, meaning it could no longer meet traffic demands of a city with a population of more than 390,000.

Throughout its short history— MR&B was formed out of two businesses merging together — the company has completed some of Oklahoma’s most recognizable public projects, including the six miles of reconstruction it did on Interstate 244 in Tulsa. It also relocated about six miles of Interstate 40 through downtown Oklahoma City. Those projects, as well as several other multimillion-dollar ventures, helped MR&B approach this Interstate 244 job with confidence it could meet the scheduled time frame for completion, even with some unique challenges.

Protecting Route 6
In late spring, MR&B began repairing the surface of the existing eastbound Interstate 244 bridge. The repairs were necessary to ensure the bridge stayed in good working order while the westbound bridge was demolished and the new one constructed. This existing bridge currently carries traffic both ways.

“We mainly worked nights and weekends on the repairs to minimize traffic disruption,” says MR&B Senior Vice President Mike Webb. “That went very well, as did the demolition, despite facing some challenges that required us to do some of the work differently than we normally would.”

Among the challenges of the demolition phases was protecting the nearby 11th Street Bridge, which is part of the historic Route 66 and sits in some spots as close as 40 feet to where the old bridge was. To lessen the impact, MR&B placed a thick layer of sand underneath the Interstate 244 bridge to cushion the impact of debris hitting the ground as it demolished the bridge.

“We also minimized the impact by taking the bridge down in smaller chunks,” says General Superintendent Reed Wood, who is overseeing the project. He also notes that an additional challenge included working next to a refinery with trains moving in and out and crossing a railroad bridge in close proximity. “Seismographs were set up to monitor vibration and movement. Our processes worked, and we were able to demolish the bridge without any issues.”

A variety of equipment is being deployed at the Interstate 244 bridge site in Tulsa, Okla. (top to bottome): Hydraulic hammers help downsize material; excavators equipped with jaw-like processors also help prepare material for processing and demolish the structure; a Komatsu dozer helps grade and prepare a causeway ; and lifts made by JLG raise workers high enough to make cuts to structural steel.

Versatile Equipment
The demolition began with MR&B removing the old bridge deck. Much of the crushed concrete was used on site to build a causeway for crews to move machinery, personnel and materials across the Arkansas River.

MR&B used a combination of excavators made by Komatsu, Rolling Meadows, Ill., ranging in size from a compact PC88 to a PC400LC-8. Some of these were equipped with hammers and processing jaws made by NPK, Walton Hills, Ohio. Additional excavators included a Komatsu model PC228, a PC270 and a PC138.

“Demolition puts a heavy toll on machinery, but our Komatsu equipment has always stood up to the challenge and gives us good productivity, says Wood. “The hydraulic excavators have excellent power to run any of the attachments we put on them, which makes us appreciate their versatility. We can hammer, process and dig with one machine, and that makes a big difference to the bottom line.” As MR&B took down the bridge deck, it hauled and placed concrete in the river to build the causeway, grading it out with Komatsu D37 and D61 dozers. Komatsu wheel loaders were used for a variety of tasks, including moving materials around the site and loading trucks.

MR&B also used lifting machines made by JLG Industries, McConnellsburg, Pa., for various tasks, including lifting personnel up to the top of existing bridge piers to cut structural steel.

“I’d estimate that at times, our workers were up to 50 feet in the air,” noted Wood. “We used the JLGs rather than have our workers walk beams with lifelines tied to them. It made for a much safer operation. Of course, we also used the lifts for getting materials into place.”

In addition to using its own equipment, MR&B turned to Kirby-Smith Machinery, Oklahoma City, Okla., for most of its rental machines, working with Territory Manager Dan Rutz. “It’s common for us to rent pieces that we wouldn’t necessarily need on every project,” says Webb. “That keeps our costs down. We’re very pleased with the service we get from Dan and Kirby-Smith.&rdquo

Manhattan Road & Bridge General Superintendent Reed Wood (left) meets with Kirby-Smith Machinery Territory Manager Dan Rutz at the I-244 bridge site in Tulsa.

Experience Matters
When the new Interstate 244 westbound bridge is finished, it will be nearly 3,000 feet long and MR&B will have used approximately 9 million pounds of structural steel, 6 million pounds of reinforcing steel and 39,000 cubic yards of concrete. It will have excavated more than 30,000 yards of material and built four retaining walls. The upper deck that carries traffic must be completed first, within 550 days of the May 13 start date. Additional days are allowed to complete the lower portion.

MR&B will handle nearly all the work. Webb and Wood estimate as many as 250 workers will be involved in the project. Among them are key individuals, such as Senior Project Manager Richard Davis and Project Manager John Poole.

“We sub out a few items, such as a large soil nail wall on the north end of the project, utility relocation, electrical work and asphalt paving, but our personnel will do the vast majority of the project,” says Webb, who noted that MR&B remains on schedule. “Making a project like this work involves not only having the proper equipment to do the job, but having the right people in place who know how to get a job done. Our guys certainly have the experience to do that. We’re confident that we’ll be done on time and on budget.” 

This story was submitted on behalf of Kirby-Smith Machinery, www.kirby-smith.com.