More than half complete, the Highway 83 Broadway Bridge replacement in Minot, North Dakota, spans rail lines and a river.
“They were older bridges, built in the 1960s, so it was time,” says Mark Lyman, Spokesperson for the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) for this project.
The approximately 1,000-foot-long bridge spans across the BNSF Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks and the Mouse River. About 30,000 vehicles daily use the bridge. Lyman reports the project takes place in the heart of the town and is the busiest road in Minot. The southbound structure was constructed in 1962 and the northbound in 1971. Both structures are reaching the end of their design life, with deterioration spotted during an inspection.
The new bridges are located in nearly the same location as the old ones; however, they will be about 2 feet taller and have eight rather than 14 columns and piers. The east bridge will have a pedestrian walkway and overlook above the Mouse River. Both bridges will sport decorative LED street lights.
The bridges north abutments connect with the Mouse River flood protection plan. There is a pump station and piping on the northwest corner. On the east side, contractors will construct 2,200 linear feet of floodwall.
In June of 2011, the Mouse River flooded, and traffic was limited in when it could pass over the waterway due to the high water levels. Even after the water receded, it took years to assess and repair the damage. Homes and businesses in the region suffered serious damages, totaling more than $1 billion.
“This project was spurred on by that flooding,” says Brian Bee, Project Manager with the job’s contractor Lunda Construction Co. of Black River Falls, Wisconsin.
The Federal Highway Administration has funded about 80 percent of the project, with NDDOT and the City of Minot picking up the rest. NDDOT expects the new bridges will last 50 to 75 years.
“The challenging coordination effort has gone quite smoothly,” Lyman says. “It requires logistical and construction coordination.”
Lunda Construction received the $20.8 million contract for replacing the bridges and began construction in April 2017. Last year, the northbound bridge was demolished and the replacement built. During the winter of 2017 to 2018, work was suspended and traffic was able to use the new northbound bridge and the existing southbound bridge.
The company currently is building the southbound steel-girder bridge. Lunda began working in the spring, when thick ice on the river enabled it to catch demolished material from the deck. Crews caught the pieces of concrete, so it could be hauled it away.
During spawning season, no work can take place in the river. Lunda left two piers that were in the river until June 1. Then it placed sheeting around the piers to prevent any debris from entering the river during demolition.
The project is scheduled for completion in November.
“I’m helping keep the project on track and things moving,” says Rick Neva, Project Manager with Lunda Construction, who had interned on the project last summer. “We got a later start than last year, but we are further along than last year. We learned some things last year about how to do things better and more efficiently. Having the same crew as last year, everyone knows what is expected of them.”
Crossing the two rail lines was one of the greatest challenges for contractors, Bee says.
“We deal with railroads on several of jobs and know what they expect,” Bee says.
The rail schedules are random and vary by season. Lunda has a flagger carrying radios on site at all times to notify crews when trains are coming through. All workers leave the area near the track until the train passes and it is safe to work in the area again.
“Any work over top of the tracks, we get in contact with [the rail company] early and set up a track window, so we can work for two to four hours, knowing trains will not be coming through,” Bee explains. “When we are setting girders, that is generally what we do.”
Lunda has about 20 people working on site.
Safety is of prime concern. Lunda trains employees and provides personal protective equipment. The company conducts daily huddles with employees and railroad personnel, discussing hazards, train schedules and anything else that could affect safety that day. Everything from setting girders to excavations to deck placement is carefully planned.
“Everything is engineered out, and the plan is followed,” Bee says.
Lunda has deployed multiple cranes, large excavators, a JCB 550-170 Telescopic Forklift, a Komatsu WA320 Wheel Loader, skip loaders, and man lifts from General Equipment & Supplies in Fargo, North Dakota.
“General has been really good,” Bee says. “We have a good relationship. General is just a phone call away.”
General Equipment & Supplies also has serviced the equipment on site. Its service technicians and parts specialists keep jobs moving forward, as the team members are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
“When equipment breaks down, General has been right out,” Neva says. “We have had nothing but good experiences.”
Founded in 1984, General Equipment & Supplies sells, rents, services and fabricates heavy equipment for the construction and aggregate industries. The company is headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, but has branches in Minot, Williston and Bismarck, North Dakota, along with Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Shakopee, Minnesota. Its subsidiary, General Aggregate Equipment Sales, located in Winnipeg and Regina, serves Canadian customers.
“Lunda has been a good customer for the last two years, renting equipment in Minnesota and North Dakota,” says Jeff Nelson, with General Equipment & Supplies.
Expanding the Area of Work
Lunda began in 1938 and has grown over the years, especially in the 1950s when the Interstate Highway Program began. It is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Tutor Perini Corp. of Sylmar, California. Lunda specializes in bridgework, retaining walls, flood control systems, rail projects and industrial work. The company works in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota.
“We are starting to spread the work out,” Bee says. “We were primarily working in the twin cities [of Minneapolis and St. Paul]. But there was less work in the area and more competition, so we have widened the geographic area where we work.”
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