Massman Construction Company and Boh Brothers Construction Co., LLC have been making progress on the Huey P. Long Bridge Widening Project. The $413-million project will widen the current four 9-foot lanes to six 11-foot lanes along with two 8-foot outside shoulders and two 2-foot inside shoulders.
Massman Construction Company won the bid for the first phase of the project, and began work in April 2006. The $83-million Phase I of the project includes widening four river piers and one land pier to support additional lanes.
Early work included installing a Limpor cofferdam that uses hydrostatic pressure to hold itself against the pier. Massman installed high-strength Williams rods in the distribution block that ties new concrete to the existing piers. The bottom portion of all four piers is now complete, and crews are working on the upper portion of the piers.
Thirty feet of the original piers are comprised of 3-foot by 3-foot by 6-foot granite blocks. In order to extend the bridge piers 86 feet, rebar is added to the existing structure by drilling 1-1/2-inch holes 15 inches deep and installed 4-foot-long rebar. Concrete is then poured around the existing structure.
"Concrete is poured in up to 12-hour placements," says Mike Neyman, senior inspector Louisiana TIMED Managers. "Nine yards of concrete per barge is transported to the piers, individual pours consist of 50 to 500 cubic yards. A chemical accelerator is used to speed up the hydration process which reduces the pressure on the forms."
Train and automobile traffic is currently unimpeded on the project. To protect workers from items falling from trains and passing traffic, netting was added to the underside of the bridge.
Boh Bros. Construction Co., of New Orleans, La., was awarded the $12.1-million contract for Phase II of the project, which includes railroad modifications of select railroad supports.
The railroad modifications consist of building new columns on the west and east banks of the project and removing old railroad towers to make way for the new approaches that will be built for the bridge at a later date.
"Currently, we have two footings poured and we're going to pour another soon," says Ricky Hogan, project manager for Boh Brothers Construction Co., LLC. "We're also ready to begin setting one of the columns over one of the footings."
Five sets of footing will be added to the west side of the project. Seventy-three-foot-6-inch sections of piling are being driven for the new railroad supports. In areas where the railroad bridge impedes placement of piling at that height, the contractor is driving each pile in four sections, with welds at each section.
"Once the columns are completed, we'll pour pedestals beneath existing towers which will be a support for a jacking assembly," says Hogan. "The railroad tracks will then close for 24 hours so that we can jack the bridge 3 inches, remove the existing towers, p ut up the new girders, bring the railroad bridge back down on the new girders, and secure it."
G&G steel of Alabama is fabricating the new girders for the west bank of the project. AFCO Steel is fabricating girders for the east bank of the project. There will be a total of two 24-hour closures — the first for the westbound train tracks and the second for the eastbound train tracks.
The demolished towers in the railroad modifications are clearing the way for new approaches to the bridge that will be part of Phase IV of the project. Boh Brothers anticipates a completion of the railroad modifications by the end of the year.
Widening of the trusses (Phase III) was slated for June 28, 2007. Construction of new approaches (Phase IV) is expected to let later this year. The entire project is scheduled to be complete by December 2011.