Following months of careful planning and with the use of the project’s king of cranes, the New NY Bridge team installed the span’s first section of structural steel on June 17: a 410-foot segment of welded girders that will support the road deck.
Carried out on a sunny and calm afternoon, the lifting operation by the I Lift NY super crane was a superb feat of engineering prowess. A custom-engineered lifting frame was built specifically to raise sections of joined steel girders, called assemblies. During lifts, the frame uses hydraulic cylinders to control each corner of the assembly for precise placement.
The girder assembly extends longer than the distance from home plate to the centerfield wall at Yankee Stadium, and had to be placed precisely within a few fractions of an inch. The total weight of the inaugural lift, including the lifting frame and other rigging, tipped the scale at 1,360 tons – approximately equal to the weight of 136 school buses.
The massive assembly was prepared at the Port of Coeymans in Albany County, where crew members used approximately 6,600 bolts to connect the individual 12-foot-tall steel girders. The assembly was then placed on a barge and floated down the Hudson River to the project site, a 95-mile journey.
More than 100,000 tons of American-forged steel will be used to create 134 assemblies in the coming months, with the individual girders arriving from plants in Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. If laid end to end, the new bridge’s girders would stretch for over 30 miles, greater than the distance between Nyack and the Statue of Liberty. In addition to supporting the road deck, the assemblies include infrastructure to carry communications, electrical power, water and compressed air to support bridge operations.
As more steel continues to connect concrete piers over the coming months, the new crossing’s final form will become increasingly recognizable to all.