Bridge Replacement Presents Challenges

By Aram Kalousdian, editor | September 28, 2010

Replacement of the Grand River Avenue Bridge over Kent Lake in Lyon Township, MI, began in July and it is expected to be completed in November. The $2.3-million project is necessary in order to replace the existing structurally deficient bridge. The existing bridge carried two lanes of traffic and was 24 feet wide. The new bridge will be 40 feet wide and will also carry two lanes of traffic. The new bridge will include 8-foot-wide shoulders on each side for pedestrians.

The new concrete bridge is a two-span prestressed concrete box beam bridge with two piles supporting abutment and piers. The new bridge will include approximately 6,000 feet of 14-inch tube pile. All of the substructure concrete has an ashlar stone texture finish.

The Grand River Avenue Bridge is located between Island Lake State Recreation Area and Kensington Metro Park. Because the bridge is located between the parks and a bike/hiking path and Kent Lake runs underneath the bridge, a decision was made to make the abutments and retaining walls more aesthetically pleasing with the ashlar stone texture finish.

“The challenge on this project is working in approximately 10 feet of water in Kent Lake. We have a cofferdam in the channel,” Jeffrey T. Stover, project manager for Walter Toebe Construction Company, said. Walter Toebe Construction Company, of Wixom, MI, is the prime contractor for the project.

“Another challenge is that the bridge is adjacent to an Interstate 96 Bridge over Kent Lake, and the engineer had some concerns about the Interstate 96 Bridge moving during removal of the existing Grand River Avenue Bridge. So, we have monitoring equipment that is monitoring the condition of the Interstate 96 Bridge as we construct the new bridge. We have an action plan in place in case anything occurs, but nothing has occurred,” Stover said.

Spalding DeDecker Associates, Inc. is the design engineering firm for the project. Bill Lambdin, P.E., project manager for Spalding DeDecker Associates, Inc., said that there were some issues with the piling for the new bridge that needed to be addressed. “We had a very soft layer of material approximately 30 feet below ground. So, one of the concerns we're having is driving pile and sheeting. So we've attached some tilt meters and some monitoring equipment on the existing Interstate 96 Bridge in order to make sure that there is no movement because of this soft, loose layer of material that's down under that bridge, as well as the one we're working on,” Lambdin said.

The Grand River Avenue Bridge is on the south side of the Interstate 96 Bridge. A pedestrian structure is located on the north side of the Interstate 96 Bridge. Lambdin said that because the Grand River Bridge and the Interstate 96 Bridge are so close together, the width of the new bridge was an issue that needed to be addressed.

“The existing bridge was in such poor condition that something had to be done. We had to press forward with that design in order to make sure that there is a safe bridge to work with there,” Lambdin said.

Walter Toebe Construction Company is using a 150-ton Link-Belt crane and a 110-ton Terex crane on the project. The existing bridge dismantlement is being carried out by saw cutting the deck along the existing beam lines and then removing the deck and beams as one unit. Two cranes are needed for the project because the project has a tight schedule.

“We need to build three substructure units at the same time because the schedule on the project is very tight,” Stover said.

Both cranes are being used for removal of the existing bridge, driving sheeting for the cofferdam, driving piling, and pouring concrete for the new bridge.

Materials used on the project include approximately 285 cubic yards of tremie concrete, which is a special concrete mix to seal the bottom of the cofferdam; approximately 630 cubic yards of substructure concrete; and approximately 260 cubic yards of superstructure concrete.

The bridge owner is the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC). Greg West is RCOC's construction engineer for the project, and Tom Peeler is RCOC's design engineer for the project. Subcontractors include Fonson, Inc., of Brighton, MI (site work); Future Fence, of Warren, MI (fencing and guardrail); and Barrett Paving Materials, of Superior Township, MI (asphalt approaches).