Brightman Street Bridge Replacement Project

By Joanne Ray | September 28, 2010

Cianbro and Middlesex: The two have their work cut out for them as they team up 50/50 to complete the massive Brightman Street Bridge Replacement Project in Fall River, MA. The project is the largest Massachusetts Highway project in the state — a more than $300-million project from start to finish.

The original structure was built in 1908 and spans 922 feet across the Taunton River. The project kicked off in 1999 and is now in phase three — the completion process.

The bridge was normally scheduled to be completed this year, but because of setbacks the completion date is set for November 2012. Cianbro and Middlesex Companies teamed up in March 2007, and their part of the project will cost $186 million.

"We are still in the procurement stages of our mechanical equipment, but all plans are still in place to meet the final completion date of 2012," said Project Manager Kaven Philbrook. "It is a huge advantage to be in this joint venture. The main advantage is that we are able to combine each company's resources, equipment, knowledge of the area, and specialties."

Employee-owned Cianbro is headed by Carl, Ken, Bud and Chuck Cianchette, who started this company in 1949. With more than 2,000 team members, this company is one of the east coast's largest civil and heavy industrial construction and construction services companies with gross annual sales of more than $360 million.

Middlesex Companies started in 1972 when Robert W. Pereira was doing business as Middlesex Paving Company. The company expanded by taking on other construction projects. Today, Middlesex designs, builds and renovates bridges, highways, marine, rail and transportation structures, and performs site development on large parcels.

In a nutshell, Cianbro has experience in heavy civil construction, mechanical and electrical work while Middlesex has a strong background in earthwork and bridge construction.

With a crew of more than 150 each day, Cianbro/Middlesex had to come up with some scheduling strategies. So, the two companies adopted a partnering philosophy and hired a consulting firm to facilitate the process.

"In order to meet our scheduling requirements we had to streamline the submittal process and ensure quick turnarounds," Philbrook said. "There are many different groups involved in the project such as subcontractors, vendors and the communities of Somerset and Fall River, so we had to form common goals. By hiring a partnership facilitator between all groups, we streamlined the communication process and ensured a safe, high-quality on-time and on-budget project."

The new drawbridge will provide a higher vertical clearance than the original, and a 200-foot shipping channel that will allow recreational boats to pass through with the bridge down, Philbrook said. When the final phase is complete, the bridge will span over 1,000 feet and have a clearance of 60 feet above the river. In comparison, the old bridge is only 30 feet above the water line.

The work is comprised of construction of reinforced concrete piers and abutments; installing turbidity screens, steel sheeting and pier protection structures; structural and cofferdam excavation; embankment, transporting, stockpiling, and de-watering of excavated material; construction of drilled shafts; rock-socketing of drilled shafts; dredging, re-handling and stockpiling of de-watered material; axial and dynamic load test; instrumentation; navigation lights; mechanically stabilized earth wall; steel piles; fender bumpers; erosion; siltation; dust and rodent control; construction, maintenance and removal of a dewatering area; utility work; maintenance and protection of traffic; and other incidental items of work.

More specifically, work consisted of reinforcing concrete abutments and piers on land and water; steel sheeting for 11 cellular cofferdams; steel H-piles; 14 temporary deepwater cofferdams; cofferdam and structural excavation; transport, stockpile and deepwater excavated material; 36-inch-diameter pipe piles; and mechanically stabilizing earth walls.

When the project is complete, the bridge will boast 5,025 square yards of retaining walls, 470 tons of steel H-Pile, 125,000 cubic yards of excavation, two miles of roadwork, 24,000 cubic yards of concrete, 1785 square yards of abutment wing walls, and over 15 million pounds of structural steel.

With a project of this size, safety is the No. 1 concern.

"We have over 150,000 safe hours," Philbrook said. "We preach safety every day and every morning we all have a safety meeting where we discuss important topics that might impact the job site. We go over the day's activity plans where only two things are stressed — safety and quality.

"Our No. 1 goal is for this project to be recognized as the safest project in the United States," Philbrook said.

The job site has two full-time safety officers to help the team meet the safety goals.

"We have found that the safer people can work, the more productive they are," Philbrook said.

Subs on the project include: Briggs Engineering — quality control; Regis Steel — rebar installation; Algar — wall form and concrete for secondary bridges; Moulison North — roadway electrical; Raito — drilled shafts; Moretrench — soil nailing and SOE; Aggregate Industries — paving; Liddell — line striping; Cardi — concrete supplier; Independent Concrete — pump truck service for concrete; Delucca Fence — roadway guardrail; Mass Highway Department — owner/client.