GOH Completes Bridge Early

PennDOT eyes November 2016 to wrap Mady’s bridge projects

Published July 14, 2015 Republican Herald

In late 2014, officials from the state Department of Transportation said they expected the replacement of two bridges very close to each other in Pottsville and Palo Alto would be complete in fall 2016 instead of summer 2017.

On Monday morning, Ronald J. Young Jr., press officer for PennDOT District 5, Allentown, had a date for completion marked on his calendar.

“We’re looking at November 14, 2016,” Young said during a site visit with other officials.

“The original completion date was August 25, 2017,” Gary A. Farabaugh, a transportation construction manager for PennDOT, said.

“When our design engineers back in Allentown put together this project, there were a lot of complicated things to figure out. They came up with what they felt was an appropriate time frame for the contractor to start and end. Sometimes a contractor can get a project done sooner. Sometimes other things arise, like weather or problems with materials, and cause delays. In this case, we believe it will be sooner than we originally anticipated,” Young said.

“The time reduction was by the contractor’s request. They had a schedule where they were able to do it sooner,” Farabaugh said.

“Last fall, District Executive Mike Rebert had conversations with the contractor, Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. of State College, about finishing the project sooner. Hawbaker said they would like to, and Rebert agreed to allow it. The final decision was made in December 2014,” Young said.

That did not change the cost of the project, Young said.

“Contract amount is $10,568,416,” Young said.

Other officials on the tour Monday included Joe Liegey, a superintendent for the general contractor, Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., State College; and Ted Fisher, an engineering consultant from McTish, Kunkel & Associates, Allentown. And they provided a progress report.

The two bridges, called the Mady’s bridges, were deemed structurally deficit in 2001 due to abutment issues.

The area sees a lot of traffic. In 2013, the southbound lane had an average of 11,272 vehicles a day, and the northbound lane had an average of 11,514 vehicles a day. It’s projected that in 2033 there will be an average of 11,732 vehicles a day on the southbound lane and 12,055 vehicles a day on the northbound lane, according to Farabaugh.

“The project began January 16, 2014, and work began that same day,” Young said.

When describing the progress on the bridges, Farabaugh and Young said the work is being done in stages.

“To maintain traffic during construction, the new four-lane bridges are being constructed in three sections: section one being the eastern-most portion; section two being the center portion; and section three being the western-most portion,” Young said.

“It’s going very well. Right now we’re in stage two of construction at the river bridge and stage one of construction at the railroad bridge,” Farabaugh said.

A crew of 14 was on site Monday, Liegey said.

Mady’s Small Bridge

Located in Pottsville, “Mady’s Small Bridge” over the Schuylkill River is 79 feet long and 62 feet wide. It is a single span steel I-beam bridge. The replacement will be 100 feet long and 62 feet 6 inches wide.

This is the bridge Farabaugh referred to as “the river bridge.”

In December, Young said that project was 11 percent complete.

“Now, it’s about 30 percent complete,” Young said Monday.

“We’re on schedule. What’s in place right now is the portion we call stage one, the right side going north. The part the northbound traffic is riding on right now is actually the area that will become the sidewalk. As we implement all three stages, that will become the sidewalk out there with a pedestrian railing and a parapet,” Farabaugh said.

“The parapet is basically the area that protects traffic from going off the side of the bridge,” Young said.

“Currently, we’re working on stage two, which is the center portion. That just went into construction. We did the demolition on it and we’ll be building it from the ground up,” Farabaugh said.

On Monday morning, the construction crew on top of the bridge used an excavator to lower a concrete Jersey barrier down through a hole in the center of the bridge to a crew knee-deep in the Schuylkill River. The crew in the creek continued to build a barrier between the river and the dirt on the north embankment.

“They’re putting a stream diversion in today. We’ll add another Jersey barrier, put some plastic on that and sandbag it,” Liegey said Monday..

“It acts as a cofferdam,” Young said.

“They have to prepare a lot of stuff before they can start putting in the shoring,” Liegey said.

Shoring are steel beams driven down from the bridge to the ground. There are already a collection of them in the center of Mady’s Small Bridge.

“They’re about 40 feet long. Z sheets are what they call it. It’s sheet piling. These were put in last fall. They hold the bank back,” Liegey said, referring to them.

Soon, more shoring will be added there to hold up the road while the crew continues to excavate, he said.

Mady’s Big Bridge

Located in Palo Alto, “Mady’s Big Bridge” is a 314-foot-long and 64-foot-wide four-span concrete encased steel I-beam bridge over the Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad. It will be replaced with a two-span concrete bulb-tee beam bridge that measures 63 feet 10 inches wide.

This is the bridge Farabaugh referred to as “the railroad bridge.”

In December, Young said that project was 13 percent complete, Young said.

“I’d say it’s about 20 percent complete,” Farabaugh said Monday.

So far, the construction crew has done some substructure work there, Liegey said.

“The beams are set for stage one on that bridge,” Fisher said.

On Monday, crews prepared a collection of reinforcing bars which will become part of a new wing wall on the bridge’s east side.

“I have some guys at the other end of the bridge forming up some concrete, while these guys are chipping some concrete off of this so we can form it and pour it. They’re chipping off some concrete which splattered on there. I think we’ll have the concrete poured here by the end of the week, probably Thursday,” Liegey said.

“The deck will be poured, hopefully, next week,” Fisher said.

The new bridges should have a life span of “70 to 100 years,” Young said.