Cranes Lift Casino Project To Success

By Mike Larson, Editor | September 28, 2010

A team of four cranes has been key in construction of the $240-million addition for Milwaukee's pOTAWATOMI Bingo Casino.

The 535,000-square-foot addition, started in August 2006 and scheduled for completion in September 2008, has three stories above ground, a 350-stall valet parking garage beneath, and contains gaming space, restaurants, a theater, a bingo hall, and back-of-house facilities.

The project also includes a new six-story, 1,800-stall parking ramp and an additional elevated driveway connecting parking areas to a major street.

To select the team of cranes needed to build the addition, construction manager Gilbane Building Co. and crane rental company Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental, both of Milwaukee, carefully analyzed the sizes, shapes and weights of the components that would need to be lifted, as well as the distances each crane would have to reach and the space available for the cranes to work in.

When the cranes had been specified, Dawes leased the cranes to the contractors who would be using them: J.H. Findorff & Son, Inc., Madison, Wis., for the towercranes, and Rochelle Erectors, Inc., Rochelle, Ill., for the lattice-boom crawler crane.

The resulting team of cranes includes a self-erecting portable towercrane, a lattice-boom crawler crane and two static-based T-type towercranes. Small lifting jobs around the site are handled by two of Findorff's 80-ton rubber-tired cranes.

Self-Erecting Portable Towercrane

The Potain HDT80 portable self-erecting towercrane was selected to work in a narrow, 25-foot space tucked between the new building and a city street that is in use throughout the project. The unit was selected because it combined compact size with the reach and capacity to make all its lifts from one location. The HDT 80's ability to self erect enabled set up in six hours, minimizing traffic disruption. It was rigged to provide a 105-foot maximum lifting height, 147 feet of horizontal reach, and capacities that ranged from 2,800 pounds out at the tip of the boom to 13,225 pounds when the hook was near the butt of the boom, close to the vertical mast. During five months on-site, the HDT80 kept busy lifting forms, rebar and mechanical equipment, and handling a concrete bucket to build the part of the addition that houses mechanical equipment for the heating, electrical and water systems.

Lattice-Boom Crawler Crane

The 275-ton capacity Manitowoc 999 Series-3 lattice-boom crawler crane was selected specifically to build the new six-story, 637,556-square-foot parking ramp. This new structure is a twin to the existing ramp and houses 1,800 parking stalls. Together, both ramps form one of Wisconsin's largest parking structures. Constructing the additional ramp required placing 1,400 pre-cast concrete components weighing up to 63,000 pounds each. Gilbane selected the 999 crawler crane rigged with 220 feet of boom because it had the reach and capacity to place the pre-cast sections and because it could easily relocate as construction of the ramp progressed. The Manitowoc 999 was on-site just under six months.

Two Static-Based Tower Cranes

The project's two most noticeable cranes, and its consistent workhorses, are the two electrically powered Potain MD485 freestanding towercranes. Visible from miles away, they stand high above the project like twin sentinels against the sky.

They are also the cranes that will be on the job the longest. One was set up in December 2006. The other went up less than a month later. Both will be working on the job until February 2008.

One MD485 been bolted to a foundation in the space that will become a stairwell. The other is mounted in what will become a mechanical shaft. Both will remain in place until the building has risen to full height around their towers. When their work is done, they will be taken apart and lifted out in sections by a large crawler crane.

These tall, long-reaching cranes consist of a vertical tower that supports a horizontal boom. Each one can cover a circular area 490 feet in diameter, while taking up only 12 feet by 12 feet of floor space. Because their operators sit high above the site in cabs with large windows, no lift has to be made blind.

The two towercranes are set up at different heights so their booms will not accidentally collide. The shorter of the two sits at an elevation providing 148 feet of lifting height. The taller one offers 197 feet of hook height.

Both are equipped with 246 feet of horizontal boom. Their lifting capacity ranges from 8,000 pounds out at the tip of the boom to more than 44,000 pounds when the lifting hook is near the boom butt, close to the crane's vertical tower.

Both of these free-standing MD485 towercranes are kept busy 12 hours a day, six days a week with scheduled lifts. Although about 97 percent of their work relates to concrete placement, they also do work for all of the specialty contractors working on-site. They lift forms, shoring, rebar, structural steel, scaffolding, lumber, mechanical equipment, generators, light towers, and a host of other items. They even lift compact track loaders into and out of the hole.

One of their major jobs has been handling 2-cubic-yard buckets of concrete. Although concrete pumps handle the project's large pours, the smaller pours are made by the towercranes. Gilbane superintendent Dale Jozowski says the MD485 towercranes working the casino project frequently place up to 120 cubic yards of concrete per hour, each. That's about a bucketload every minute for each crane.

Said Robert Fenlon, project executive, "This Potawatomi Bingo Casino project is an excellent example of how teaming up different kinds of cranes, each suited to specialized applications, can provide the right overall lifting solution for a large project."