The New NY Bridge team’s high standards of quality and precision are crucial to the day-to-day operations of the project. To ensure that the bridge’s foundation piles are welded with consistent accuracy, skilled operators are utilizing advanced mechanical welding machines.
Operators use these tools to join segments of the new bridge’s enormous piles with precise and reliable welds. Piles are hollow steel tubes, composed of up to one-inch-thick steel and measuring more than 18 feet in circumference. Once a pile segment is driven down into the riverbed, another is positioned directly above it. The two are then prepared for the welding process that will join them together before the welded pile is driven to its full depth.
The mechanical welder is specifically designed to join steel pipes with the use of a rail, which is locked into place around the bottom pile segment. Skilled operators guide the machine around the perimeter, welding through the full depth of steel by making multiple passes. To protect against contaminants and weather elements that would compromise the quality of the welds during this process, the work takes place inside an enclosed structure.
Once the operator is finished, every weld is inspected both visually and with ultrasonic testing, or UT. The sound waves produced by the UT devices bounce inside the steel and back to a receiver. These extensive examinations ensure that even the smallest imperfections are discovered and appropriately addressed.
Because the piles support all other elements of the bridge, there is no room for error. As one welding inspector put it, “Failure of the steel pipe piles is not an option; this is why we push so hard for perfection.” The quality and speed of the state-of-the-art welding system has enabled the project to install more than half of the piles needed for the 3.1-mile twin-span bridge as of August 2014.
Visit NewNYBridge.com to learn how the New NY Bridge’s piles were affected by local geologic conditions, transported to the project site and installed with underwater noise protection measures. You can also find out how they come together to form the footprint for the new bridge.