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Archive for Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kansas Turnpike Authority calls on large cranes to remove old pieces of Kansas River bridges

Construction crews from Iowa-based United Contractors use cranes to dislodge a hunk of bridge steel from the Kansas River bottom, where it’s been stuck since being dropped there by demolition explosives Friday as part of ongoing construction along the Kansas Turnpike. Wednesday’s efforts took more than six hours to free one of three steel support sections, and crews expect to finish the removals by Friday evening. Next up: Blasting more steel from what remains of an original turnpike bridge, either early next week or sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The old bridges are being demolished to make way for a new bridge, part of the turnpike’s ongoing $130 million construction and overhaul project in Lawrence.

Construction crews from Iowa-based United Contractors use cranes to dislodge a hunk of bridge steel from the Kansas River bottom, where it’s been stuck since being dropped there by demolition explosives Friday as part of ongoing construction along the Kansas Turnpike. Wednesday’s efforts took more than six hours to free one of three steel support sections, and crews expect to finish the removals by Friday evening. Next up: Blasting more steel from what remains of an original turnpike bridge, either early next week or sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The old bridges are being demolished to make way for a new bridge, part of the turnpike’s ongoing $130 million construction and overhaul project in Lawrence.

December 16, 2009

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Bridge steel stuck in river

Crews prepare to pull on structural steel that is stuck in the ground. The steel is from a former Kansas River bridge. Enlarge video

Two large cranes tugged on industrial-sized rubber bands, each strapped to the first piece of 250 tons of steel partially submerged in the frigid Kansas River below the Kansas Turnpike.

The early returns on Wednesday morning’s diesel-powered effort: about 1.5 feet of movement.

“It needs to come out,” said Rex Fleming, the turnpike’s project engineer, watching the work from a temporary causeway built out into the river below the turnpike.

The effort may be slow-going, but Fleming says it’s critical to keeping his $130 million project moving. So far one new turnpike bridge already has been built, and is being used to carry turnpike traffic in both directions through the northern edge of Lawrence.

The turnpike’s West Lawrence interchange, which is exit 202, has been rebuilt. The East Lawrence interchange, which is exit 204 in North Lawrence, is set to close this spring for eight months, so that crews can rebuild it to accommodate new equipment and more traffic.

But the second main portion of the project — construction of a second Kansas River bridge, eventually to carry traffic heading east toward the Kansas City area — cannot begin until the old steel in the river is gone, and what’s left an another old bridge is removed.

While hired contractors already have conducted three separate blasts to clear the old bridges, they still need a fourth and possibly more. And that can’t happen until the steel in the water is lifted out of the mud and muck some 25 feet below the surface.

The problem: The steel literally is stuck in the mud, Fleming said, and crews need to “break the suction” that’s keeping it from being lifted for removal.

Fleming said the next blast could be set for early next week, as long as the fallen steel is out of the river. The blast also could be set for during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Comments

puddleglum 5 years ago

this is a surprise. I had the original contract. I am a modest body-builder, but I can lift that bridge on my own, no need for some childish crane. I towed the london bridge on my back, back in the day. I can lift the capitol building too, if you wanna see me flex.

puddleglum 5 years ago

americans are just getting soft, if you ask me.

Randall Uhrich 5 years ago

Why didn't these geniuses build some temporary causeways to drop the old bridge onto? Didn't anyone anticipate that all the weight of the old bridge might sink into the river bottom mud? I hope the contractor has to pay for this lack of foresight and not the taxpayers. Where was the Highway Department while this happened?

FredGarvin_MP 5 years ago

The Kansas Turnpike Authority and the Kansas Department of Transportation are two different organizations. KDOT has nothing to do with the bridge project crossing the river on the I-70 Turnpike.

Joe Hyde 5 years ago

It cranes can't move it, consider this:

Cut outflow of upstem federal lakes to minimum release volume (allows lowering Kaw's elevation at bridge); remove batter boards at Bowersock Dam (drains pool backed up by Bowersock Dam); send divers into river to attach multiple inflatable air bags to submerged steel structures; inflate bags by compressed air hoses; re-install batter boards on Bowersock Dam(to raise level of dam); obtain a large volume outflow release from Perry Lake (to refill Bowersock pool).

The lift provided by the inflated air bags will be persistent and, most important, slow. Slowness and persistence of lifting power is key to gradually overcoming the mud suction.

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