Change of Plans

FTLComm - Tisdale - Friday, May 31, 2002

When work began on this project it was expected that the bridge would have to be completely rebuilt even though it was not slated for replacement during this construction year.

But Thursday morning the shoring up process revealed that the old piles were not as badly deteroiated as had been originally thought and this temporary repair

would be fine for this summer thus delaying total replacement until next year.

A series of new temporary piles have been installed, half Thursday and the other half today. The new untreated poles were driven in beside the existing ones then tilted into place under the supporting bridge cross beam. As you can see at right and below three new piles are in place and supporting the North bound lane.

Here we see the South bound lane piles being openned up so that new poles can be driven in to reinforce the existing structure.

The pile driving mechanism includes a slide for the pounding hammer and a guide for the pole. The top of the pole is covered with a pounding cap to protect it and below right the worker is releasing the cap.

The new poles have been given steel straps to increase their lateral strength and here one is being hooked up to be drawn into the driving mechanism.

This small efficient crew really work well together, reminding me of a railway section crew as the skills and capabilities of the individual crew members combine to form a balanced and quick acting unit.

The pole has been drawn up into the mechanism and once in place the high man with safety line equipment went up the system and installed the pounding cap on the pole.

These piles are being driven into the mud ten feet deep beside the originals which were inserted twelve feet deep. With these new piles in place the bridge will have the ablility to safely carry loads until the Department of Highways can work out the budget and schedule for a total rebuilt of the whole bridge.

The South bound lane piles will be installed today and the deck replaced. However, it will take Monday and perhaps Tuesday for the railing and eight to ten inches of pavement to be put in place to restore the bridge to full use.

However, the whole project has taken only a few days when originally it was thought that it could be a very long and drawn out process had the whole bridge been rebuilt.

Below the crawler with its backhoe is being used to start the hole for each of the reinforcing piles to be driven.

As I waited for the pile driving process to begin Thursday afternoon I was struck by the amount of physical labour involved in a project of this kind. For a person who spends each day, all day working at a keyboard and screen the assumption is that in today's world most work is mechanised and just another form of push button activity. But watching this crew go about their business it was clear that when it comes to bridge building you still need a shovel, a crow bar and have to get down in mud to get the job done.

Timothy W. Shire

Post Script: The crew were so efficient the bridge was returned to regular highway service late Friday afternoon.