American Bridge Reconstructs Lewis and Clark Viaduct Bridge
A Vital Link: American Bridge Partners with Kansas DOT to Replace Aging Lewis and Clark Viaduct Bridge
When a vital link across the Kansas River, the Lewis and Clark series of bridges, began deteriorating, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) decided to reconstruct the structures.
“The annual maintenance and repairs on the aging bridge structures continued to increase,” says Laurie Arellano, a Spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The department expects the new bridge will decrease maintenance costs, which have been about $1 million annually. Costs were expected to increase if the bridge continued to age.
The Lewis and Clark viaduct on Interstate 70 connects Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, and is in the middle of the urban4 core. The bridge being replaced, carrying the westbound lanes, was built in 1962 and rehabilitated in 1984. It is considered obsolete, because it does not meet current design standards.
The bridge carrying the eastbound lanes was built in 1907 as a four-lane two level deck truss bridge, known at that time as the Intercity Viaduct. It will eventually be replaced as well.
KDOT created a study team in spring 2011 to assess the condition of all nine of the viaduct bridges in the area, Arellano says. The team developed a phasing plan and the westbound Lewis and Clark viaduct was the first selected.
“There’s a grand concept for the whole viaduct,” says Jason Van Nice, Kansas City North Metro Engineer with KDOT. “We are working on the first piece. There will be more to come.”
Burns & McDonnell Engineers of Kansas City, Missouri; Wilson & Company of Kansas City, Missouri; and Confluence of Kansas City, Missouri, designed the new structure. During surveying, Wilson & Company incorporated data from multiple tools in addition to conventional surveying, including static and RTK GPS, aerial digital orthophotography, terrestrial LiDAR scanning and Mobile LiDAR mapping. Burns & McDonnell completed the final design of the new westbound bridge.
American Bridge in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, received the $65 million contract in November 2017 to replace the 0.58-mile westbound bridge from the railroad abutment to the state line. Work began this spring and is expected to take two construction seasons. Van Nice indicates crews will work throughout the winter, even though some days may be lost due to winter storms.
“With this type of project, there is always something that can be done most of the year,” Van Nice says. “A lot of the time in the winter, they have to do things like provide heated tents or covers to help keep the concrete curing temperature up.”
The department outlined detours for the westbound traffic, which Van Nice said was a relatively simple detour, with most through traffic using I-670. The team added a second exit lane to the Third Street/James Street exit ramp from I-70. Temporary signals were added at two intersections.
In June, American Bridge removed all concrete and removable pieces, using traditional equipment, before demolishing the bridge using cut charges to break the girders and implode the bridge, dropping the steel superstructure into the Kansas River. Crews then pulled the pieces out of the river and hauled them off, salvaging almost all of it.
“It was a significant event for us,” Van Nice says. “The demolition was the safest way to bring down a structure like that.”
In June, American Bridge was also working on construction of the substructure. Van Nice says the company is using conventional bridge-building equipment.
Construction of the new 2,980-foot-long, 20-span bridge will have 19 new piers, one of which will be placed in the river. American Bridge will construct that pier from the river on barges. The bridge will have both concrete and steel beam girders, depending on the span.
The bridge is expected to require 21,000 cubic yards of concrete and 3.1 million pounds of reinforcing steel, in addition to the drilled shafts and the steel in the prestressed concrete beams. More than 55,000 feet of steel pile and 2,100 feet of 72-inch diameter drilled shafts comprise the foundation.
“There have been so many moving parts, with a lot of stakeholders,” Van Nice says. “The amount of coordination and cooperation in building a bridge strikes me.”
Arellano reports that coordination has been a challenge during both design and construction.
“There is a lot going on with permitting, utilities, railroad, airport and the public in general,” she says. “There are numerous utilities, other entities and businesses that are impacted by the construction of this project.”
Varied response times to requests for information from the railroad, Federal Aviation Administration and utilities or when conflicts arise have created challenges with maintaining an accurate schedule.
“The project also has a unique challenge with handling traffic as the most significant impacts to traffic are on the Missouri side of the line,” Arellano says. “Communication at various stages of the project has been key to this moving forward and a commitment from all parties to understand each other’s needs.”
If a conflict occurs with a utility line, the contractor immediate contacts the company whose line it is and follows up or requests that KDOT follow up, when needed, Arellano says.
Completion of the westbound Lewis and Clark Viaduct Bridge is scheduled for spring 2020.
“We are proud to wisely use our resources to deliver a long-lasting improvement to the community,” Arellano says. “We are proud of how well everyone is working together to keep the project moving forward despite the challenges and obstacle that have presented themselves so far.”
- Owner: Kansas Department of Transportation
- Designer: Burns & McDonnell Engineers, Kansas City, Missouri; Wilson and Company, Kansas City, Missouri; and Confluence of Kansas City, Missouri
- Contractor: American Bridge, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania