Workers set beams for bridge's backbone


Workers set beams for bridge's backbone (05/14/13)

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Two cranes support a large concrete beam as workers take the time to ensure they're perfectly positioned.

"It's going to give us a better ride surface on the top of the bridge if everything's set exactly where they're supposed to be," says Dick Anderson Construction Project Manager Allan Frankl.

Each beam, or girder as they're called, costs close to $60,000 and weighs around 80,000 pounds. A lot could go wrong so, workers take it slow.

"Safety is the biggest priority and if we go real slow, we can ensure everybody stays clear, everybody stays safe while we're doing this. They're very heavy beams so, it's relatively dangerous picking these up," says Frankl.

These girders are the backbone of the bridge. There are six in all, each taking about an hour to set.

"At this point, it starts to look like its ultimate use as a bridge so, it's kind of an exciting part of any bridge project to move from that substructure to move to the superstructure part of the project," explains Frankl.
The girders, and the roadway they'll support, make up the superstructure. It's taken them two months and two days to get to this point. Once they finish setting each side of the pier, the middle structure, they'll be ready to build supports for the roadway. Those supports will be removed once the concrete deck is poured and sets.

Montana Department of Transportation's Paul Cogley is the project manager for the interchange. He says Montana DOT folks are in town from Helena to review the project and make sure the girders weren't damaged during transit.

"It's kind of a milestone for the project. A lot of things are dependent on this activity. Once we get those done, then the other activities will fall into place so, we can reopen the bridge for traffic," says Cogley.

Workers are two weeks ahead of schedule. Once they complete this superstructure, they'll move onto phase two-demolishing the other 50 year old bridge and starting the same process all over again.

Folks with the Department of Transportation say they hope to have phase one completed in August and phase two in May of next year.

The bridges needed new decks. Since they had to meet new seismic requirements, folks with the Montana Department of Transportation decided they'd construct a new bridge instead of making repairs and upgrades to the old ones.

The new bridge will have two left turn lanes onto I-90 westbound and walkways and wider shoulders on both sides to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

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