Labor-Intensive Demolition Speeds Repair for Rieth-Riley on Indianapolis' I-465/Rockville Road Bridge
When a mobile car crusher on northbound I-465 crashed into the Rockville Road bridge on the west side of Indianapolis in January, chunks of concrete rained onto the interstate during morning rush hour. Luckily there were no severe injuries - but there was a major section of interstate to clean up, a long line of traffic congestion, and a bridge that needed immediate stabilization and significant repairs.
Personnel from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) rushed to the scene and decided to utilize their Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with Indianapolis General Contractor Rieth-Riley Construction Co., Inc. "IDIQ is a federal highway initiative that allows us to deal with more urgent needs," explained Roland Fegan, Jr., P.E., Construction Director for INDOT's Greenfield District. "We piloted the program in our district (Rieth-Riley was the low bidder for the bridge and roadway contracts), and other districts are starting to use it now. If we had gone conventional on this project, we didn't think we'd be able to let a contract before early March and we'd have to secure the new bridge beams after that."
Instead, INDOT called Rieth-Riley. "We had our first supervisors onsite around 9:30 a.m.," said Mike Jaskela, Rieth-Riley's General Superintendent. The team mobilized resources and stabilized the bridge faster than anyone expected, allowing I-465 to reopen by the middle of the next day. With expedited bridge beam delivery and demolition that salvaged as much of the structure as possible, INDOT anticipates completion of bridge repairs by late May.
Ready to Go in 2.5 Hours
After the bridge strike at 8 a.m. January 10, INDOT and the Indiana State Police closed nearly 4 miles of northbound I-465 and the eastbound lanes of the Rockville Road overpass. INDOT's inspectors determined that four of the 14 pre-stressed concrete bridge beams needed replacement, totaling a 45- by 120-foot area of concrete deck and beams.
"When we went back with our repair we needed embedment length - about 3 feet of steel to tie the new deck to the existing deck so it would function like one bridge deck all the way across," Fegan said. "Looking at that situation, we all agreed on a cut line for sawing, then anything else would be chipped out in the repair going forward."
Rieth-Riley and Crackers Demo, headquartered in Lansing, Michigan, acted quickly to assemble the necessary equipment and personnel. Jeremiah Laporte, Superintendent for Crackers Demo, immediately began driving down from Michigan.
"Luckily the excavators were sitting in our Indianapolis yard about 7 miles away," said Matt Mann, Rieth-Riley's Resource Manager. "We got two Caterpillar 320 Excavators and a Caterpillar 324 Excavator hooked up with a couple of Magnum hammers to demolish dangerous portions of the structure and shears to cut through the rebar."
Getting all the equipment to the jobsite posed the next challenge. "We had one lowboy operator working," Mann said. "I called around town and found two more. Our yard was pretty busy with three lowboys and excavators tracking all over the place."
As Mann and his team prepared the equipment, Scott Stine, Rieth-Riley's Area Manager, enlisted the help of police officers from the accident site to make transport faster and easier. The officers provided a police escort to get equipment from Rieth-Riley's yard to the jobsite.
After the first load, Mann sent two lowboys back to Rieth-Riley's yard to bring two Caterpillar 938 Loaders to the jobsite. Franklin Equipment of Indianapolis delivered a scissor lift and four light plants.
All that activity finished in just 2.5 hours. "We had everything onsite by noon," Mann said. "When we got the call, we had to locate two different excavator shears, three different excavator hammers, three excavators, and two loaders - then get the machines fueled, greased, and oiled. We hooked up all the attachments, made sure everything was plumb and fitted, all the connections were tight and there were no leaks, and function-tested before we put them on lowboys and sent them out there. It was pretty much all hands on deck."
Reopened in Half the Time
Before starting work, "We put down 100 tons of sand for the concrete to fall on so it wouldn't damage the interstate pavement," Jaskela said.
After evaluation of the bridge, Rieth-Riley and their workforce led coordination of the project. ABC Cutting Contractors, Inc., of Indianapolis saw cut the bridge deck. By 7 p.m., Crackers Demo began heavy demolition of the structure. The whole team worked through the night in driving rains, getting almost 95 percent of the damaged section down by 8 a.m.
"When we first arrived at the accident site, we thought we were looking at 48 to 72 hours," Fegan said. "After seeing how much they accomplished in a couple of hours, it became clear we'd have it open by rush hour the next evening; that's what it looked like when I left that night. The next morning when I arrived it was all down and two lanes were already cleaned up. At that point I was looking to contact State Police for a 2 p.m. opening, and that just kept moving up."
According to Mann, "Getting everything out of there was just as much of a challenge as getting it in, because no one expected Crackers Demo to get the heavy demolition done that fast. When I got a call at 7 a.m. I thought we'd start planning, but they said, "˜We're about done,' so I needed to get a couple of lowboys ready and get them down there."
Once crews cleaned up the site, State Police reopened the interstate at about 12:30 p.m.
Preserving for Quicker Repair
With the bridge stabilized, INDOT arranged expedited manufacturing of the 70-ton, 125-foot-long replacement beams. The bridge and pavement were rebuilt in 2009 as part of the Accelerate 465 corridor project. "We're fortunate to still have the shop drawings on the beams and we went back to the same supplier," Fegan said. "We decided we didn't need to customize any of the beams, partially because we did a really good job of salvaging what we could during demolition and went with the end in mind."
On January 30, Rieth-Riley resumed work on the bridge. "The first time, the Rieth-Riley/Crackers Demo team demolished just enough to get it open to traffic and ensure it was safe," Jaskela said. "When we went back, we cleaned it up for the installation of new beams. Because we tried to salvage so much of the existing bridge, it was a lot of labor-intensive work using hand-removal methods with smaller jack hammers than when we originally brought down the damaged beams. We used 60- and 90-pound jack hammers and a Caterpillar 314 rubber track excavator with a small hammer on it."
After the accident, INDOT moved one lane of eastbound Rockville Road traffic onto the westbound side and reopened all the interstate ramps except eastbound Rockville Road to northbound I-465. "That ramp is less than 200 feet from the end of the bridge," Fegan said. "There was no way to make that practical."
In the second phase of work, crews started with the east bridge abutment over the closed ramp. "We conceded that approach slab would come out so they didn't need to be as careful," Fegan said. "We would've spent more time and money trying to save that approach slab than just taking it all out and pouring it back."
Crews then set up temporary barrier wall on the interstate shoulders to work on the middle pier. Nighttime lane closures allowed safe removal of bridge deck. "The work in the middle was a lot more challenging because there's not much room between the beams on the northbound and southbound lanes," Fegan explained. "They're not actually attached but poured into the center pier, so they had to be careful not to loosen that. They did a bit more hand-chipping to get that separated."
Overnight rolling stoppages allowed crews to set the new beams over the top of I-465. "Instead of stopping traffic, police vehicles slowed traffic to 15 miles per hour, which caused less congestion," Jaskela explained. "The police vehicles slowed traffic far enough back on I-465 so it took about 20 minutes to get everybody through. We set a beam during the rolling stoppages with no traffic underneath, then let traffic clear out and did it again."
Rieth-Riley also poured new deck and installed a new south concrete rail. The entire project, estimated at around $1.5 million, is expected to finish before this year's Indianapolis 500. On behalf of taxpayers, INDOT will seek reimbursement for damages to state property.