All posts by michaelj8

Repairs to Sanibel Causeway Finished Early

When hurricane Ian invaded Florida late last month, one of the most reported areas of destruction was the Sanibel Causeway, a three-mile-long stretch of road that connects Sanibel Island to the Florida mainland. It consists of three individual bridge spans with two manmade causeway islands in between. The storm caused severe damage and even complete destruction to some areas of the causeway, cutting off access to the island and its 6,300 residents.

Fast response

The Florida DOT quickly enacted a plan to make temporary repairs with support from Governor DeSantis and other agencies. Jacksonville-based Superior Construction and Miami-based de Moya Group worked together to overcome numerous challenges including two large sections of roadway that had to be rebuilt and five approach slabs on two connecting islands.

The first obstacle was clearing debris, and lots of it. One of the project leaders said photos didn’t do justice and there was debris everywhere, preventing access to some parts of the jobsite. Early on workers had to use boats to get from site to site because some areas of washout were so severe. Other challenges included feeding and housing about 150 workers and staff, providing power via generators, and restoring cell phone and internet communications.

A team effort

Materials were dredged and transported to rebuild causeway islands and other areas that were washed out. Ajax Paving, based in North Venice, repaired roadways and laid new asphalt. Many resources to assist in rebuild planning were made available including drones, underwater survey equipment, and barges. Drones were especially essential for tracking progress and surveying jobsites from a high viewpoint.

A job well done

Crews working around the clock and staying in constant communication allowed them to complete the repairs in 15 days. This was 12 days ahead of the target date of October 31st. The repaired roadway offers temporary access to residents and construction workers, but the Superior and deMoya companies are preparing for the second stage of the project, which is a better built and stronger causeway. Plans to be submitted to Florida DOT and Lee County include more resilient seawalls and elevating parts of the causeway.

Information for this article provided by Construction Dive. Read the entire story by clicking here. Image above courtesy of Superior Construction.

October 28, 2022

Newer Building Codes Stood up to Hurricane Ian

It’s been a week since Hurricane Ian invaded the western Florida coastline and left behind terrible loss of life and destruction of property in its wake. Just north of Fort Myers is Punta Gorda, where the storm remained for quite some time with torrential rain and wind gusts well over 100 miles per hour. But when the skies cleared and damage was surveyed, some residents were surprised at how many structures weathered the storm quite well. The Washington Post featured an article about this in their newspaper and online.

After the storm

Typical storm damage was seen in the form of flooded streets, fallen trees, and scattered debris, but many homes and buildings suffered minimal or no visible disturbance. The reason is attributed to newer building codes. Hurricane Andrew hit Florida in 1992 with dozens of deaths and an estimated $26 billion in damage. Statewide building codes were updated and included some storm-specific requirements that were the strictest in the U.S. at that time.

Charley came knocking

Hurricane Charley swept through Punta Gorda in 2004 and destroyed many older buildings and homes. Punta Gorda resident and owner of a local construction and remodeling business, Joe Schortz, likened Charley to a spring-cleaning event. He said, “Charley destroyed a lot of the older homes with the winds.” Replacement structures featured updated building codes, but in 2007 even more stringent codes were enacted. Schortz said that buildings erected since 2007 appear to have survived Ian with little or no damage.

Charlotte High School, shown above, was rebuilt after Charley and appears to have suffered barely any structural damage from Ian. The wind-blown plaque on the ground pays tribute to the post-Charley rebuild: “This school has risen from the rubble to reawaken as the magnificent, enduring structure you see today. Never again will the winds be feared, never again.”

Unfortunately, the city didn’t completely evade the wrath of Hurricane Ian. Power and water outages were felt throughout much of Punta Gorda, and several structures that survived Charley did receive significant damage.

Building an envelope

Structures that comply with modern building codes have tremendous advantages over their older counterparts when facing severe weather conditions. For example, “structural load continuity” requirements state the roof must be well connected to the walls, and the walls well connected to the foundation of the building. When older structures present even a small failure in this “building envelope,” such as a broken window or door, wind pressure is allowed to enter. In finding a place to escape, the pressure will often forcefully blow a hole in another area of the building and expose it to further destruction.

Click here to read the whole story at The Washington Post. Photo above courtesy of Bradley Brooks/Reuters.

October 5, 2022

Crane Safety Heightened in Threatening Weather

Keeping an eye on the weather is a wise decision for anyone who works outdoors. This is especially important for those with careers in construction and heavy equipment operation. A responsible crane operator should be cognizant of when the weather turns threatening and how to act accordingly. American Cranes & Transport Magazine (ACT) recently posted an article that offers tips about responding to various severe weather conditions.

High winds

Wind is probably the most obvious weather threat to safe crane operation. High or gusty winds can cause load swing, compromise overall stability, and possibly contribute to the crane tipping over. It’s best to avoid crane operation if the wind speed is over 20 mph. Also remember that the higher the load is lifted, the more likely the wind will increase. When operating between two tall buildings the wind is likely to pick up, and even a small gust can present challenges. The operator should pay special attention to load drift, load spin, boom swing and holding the load In place all times, but especially in windy conditions.

High heat

High temperatures are always a challenge to crane safety, and operators in Florida are very familiar with this threat. Overheated engines, hydraulic system failure, and dirty filters can threaten work safety, so keeping the crane clean and lubricated is critical. It’s also vital for the air conditioning to work well in the cab. Operators who are not hydrated and exposed to heat over a long period of time can experience fatigue and heat exhaustion. Regular work breaks are also important.

Low temperatures

Not usually an issue in Florida, but cold temperatures can affect a crane’s hydraulic system and slow it down due to thickening of the hydraulic oil. Extreme cold can compromise structural strength and cause steel components to become brittle. Additionally, the well-being of the crane operator can be threatened when the body cools down faster than heats up. This can result in disorientation, numbness, frostbite, and hypothermia.

Lightning

Lightning not only poses possible injury and death to persons – it can knock out a crane’s electrical system and may damage the safety system. As soon as a crane operator hears thunder or sees lightning, they should immediately telescope in and/or lower the boom, then turn off the electrical system. Cranes are built with a lot of steel and the boom can act as a lightning rod, so it’s imperative to evacuate the cab and general area around the crane during an electrical storm. Stay away from the crane for 30 minutes after hearing the last sound of thunder. Before returning to work, conduct a thorough inspection to check for possible damage.

Maintaining safe crane operation can be challenging under normal weather conditions. When extreme weather occurs, the potential for danger can multiply. Make it a habit to be aware of the climate around you and that will help ensure a safe work zone for you and your coworkers.

Read the entire article at ACT’s website by clicking here.

September 1, 2022

Sims Provides New Crane for ZooTampa Manatees

ZooTampa recently purchased a new Shuttlelift SCD09 crane for its manatee rehabilitation program, and Sims Crane was instrumental in helping choose and deliver the best model. The SCD09 replaces an old Shuttlelift 3330E that yielded exceptional service to the zoo for over 20 years. That crane was also provided by Sims Crane.

Heavy patients

The zoo admits 30 to 35 manatees into its hospital every year. These gentle sea mammals suffer habitat loss, cold stress and red tide poisoning, injuries from boats, and other threats to their livelihood. Moving them safely from transport truck to pool and later to the medical facility requires the use of a crane as manatees can weigh up to 2,000 pounds. In addition to treatment, the animals are weighed regularly to monitor their recovery. After rehab is complete and the manatee is ready to be released, the crane is needed to transfer from pool to transport truck.

Specialized transport

Each manatee is cradled in a special stretcher and carefully lifted with the crane then transported. The SCD09 is ideal for this delicate operation due to features including compact size, easy maneuverability, and three steering modes (front, four-wheel coordinated, and four-wheel crab steer). “With staff being on call 24/7 to receive stricken animals, the new 9-ton Shuttlelift SCD09 is of vital importance in ensuring timely treatment,” explained Lisa Dijenno, animal care supervisor at the zoo.

Certified staff

Since most crane operators are not likely to change careers to zookeeping, several staff members at ZooTampa have received NCCCO training and certification in crane operation. “We learned a lot on the job with the 3330E over the years, practicing without animals to begin with, but Sims Crane, our local Shuttlelift dealer, has made sure that we know everything about properly operating the crane,” Dijenno, said. “Having a wild animal on the front of a crane can be dangerous, so we usually meet as a team beforehand to discuss how we’re going to move them adequately — and what our backup plan will be if it goes wrong.”

Read all of the details at Manitowoc’s website by clicking here. Image above courtesy of Manitowoc.

The manufacturer produced a video account of this story that can be viewed here.

August 19, 2022

Choosing the Best Trailer for Heavy Equipment

Transporting heavy equipment to the construction site can sometimes be a challenge. In most cases a trailer is needed for the task, but with so many options how do you make the right choice? The CONEXPO-CON/AGG website posted a helpful article with ideas to consider. The author interviewed experts from three trailer manufacturers and consulted their expertise.

For starters

A key component to begin with is matching the capacity of the trailer to the weight of equipment to be hauled. Too large of a trailer is a waste of money, too small is not safe. Also consider the tow vehicle needs to be appropriately sized to pull the load. Remember to include the weight of the attachments that go along with the equipment. This can easily be overlooked.

Most mid-size or large construction equipment can be carried with a 35- to 65-ton capacity trailer. A 55- to 65-ton capacity trailer is typically needed for transporting larger cranes and specialty equipment. Regulations vary from state to state, so when traveling it’s important to verify the trailer capacity, number of axles and axle position are correct.

One size does not fit all

According to Jim Ladner, national sales manager for Landoll Company, users commonly want to purchase one trailer to transport all their equipment. But in most cases this is not possible. Instead, consider buying a trailer that accomplishes 80% of the tasks you need to do, then subcontract other specialized loads to an outside hauler.

Trailer types

Here’s a list of common trailer designs for transporting heavy equipment:

Lowboy or Low Bed – has two drops in the deck height. The first is located after the gooseneck, the second in front of the wheels. The purpose is to keep cargo as low as possible, generally about 18 inches from the ground.

Gooseneck – features a ‘neck’ that extends over the box or bed of the vehicle towing the trailer. The hitch is mounted to the box of the truck.

Drop Deck – has two deck levels, upper and lower. The upper deck is positioned over the tractor unit, then a drop to the lower level occurs after the tractor is cleared.

Tilt – the axles are positioned forward to allow the platform to tilt. The back end of the trailer touches the ground so a ramp is not needed.

Sliding or Traveling Axle – the axles actually move forward, allowing the tail end of the trailer to lower to the ground.

Click here to see read the whole story at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG event website. Image above courtesy of Wikipedia.

July 22, 2022

Passing of Dean Sims, Sr.

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Dean Sims, Sr.

Dean passed away on June 28, 2022.

Dean was a legendary and visionary entrepreneur, a beloved father and dedicated and loyal friend and colleague to many. He will be missed and fondly remembered for years to come.

The Company will receive visitors at Lone Palm Golf Club on Monday, July 11, 2022, between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm.

Lone Palm Golf Club
800 Lone Palm Dr
Lakeland, FL 33815

The family has planned a service to celebrate Dean’s life on July 11, 2022. For further details please contact Sims Crane & Equipment Co. at 813-626-8102.

Caterpillar Partners with Major League Soccer

The creative minds in the marketing department at Caterpillar are at it again. Back in October 2020 we shared a post about how the company built a massive Pac Man board to showcase their equipment’s capabilities while celebrating Caterpillar’s 95th anniversary. A promotional video (part of their Cat Trials series) was produced and can be viewed here on YouTube. Now Caterpillar has teamed up with Major League Soccer with the goal to expand their appeal to a broader audience.

No Hands

The video, titled “No Hands,” is installment number 12 in the Cat Trials series. It features former US Major League Soccer player DaMarcus Beasley as he maneuvers through an obstacle course against Caterpillar products including a massive autonomous Cat 794 AC mining dump truck and Cat 299D3 compact track loader. Near the video’s conclusion he successfully kicks a soccer ball into the bed of the moving dump truck.

Yvette Morrison, global director of marketing and branding said, “Caterpillar is eager to partner with Major League Soccer, as we share a joint commitment to being leaders in the communities where we live, work and play.”

The No Hands video combines fast action and humor and can be viewed here on YouTube.

Click here to see read of the details at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG event website. Image above courtesy of Caterpillar.

June 17, 2022

Protecting Older Workers – a Valuable Asset in Construction

During the last two decades the average age of an American worker has increased by almost three years from 39.3 to 42, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This trend is even more apparent in the blue-collar industry with plumbers, electricians, and miners working well into their 40s, construction workers at 42.5 years and truck drivers at 48 years of age. A great amount of knowledge and experience accompany those who are older, but the risk of injury also increases with age.

Tough guys

American Cranes & Transport Magazine (ACT) recently visited this issue. Their article suggests that although most of these industries can inadvertently portray a “tough guy” image of their workers, injuries can be more serious for those who are older versus counterparts in their 20s and 30s and recovery take much longer. For example, research has shown that workers above age 50 are more likely to sustain fractures from common falls versus younger colleagues who only suffered bruises and sprains.

A high cost

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has determined the death rate for construction workers older than 55 years is 80 percent higher than those under 35 years. Additionally, the financial cost from a fall injury for workers over 45 can be triple that of those under age 30. The risk of pain medication addiction is also present.

Preserve this resource

An older work force is an asset to future generations because of their knowledge, experience, and commitment to the job. Since no age group is immune to injury, it’s important to remember these principles:

  • No single job fits all workers
  • Work quality is often more important than speed or quantity
  • Sufficient training promotes a safer workplace
  • Keep work areas clean and free of obstacles that can cause injuries

Finally, it’s important to have environments where older employees can utilize their knowledge and skills to provide meaningful work and contribute to the ongoing success of the company and industry.

Click here to read the entire story at ACT’s website. Image above courtesy of Pixabay.

June 7, 2022

Mini Crawler Cranes – Maximum Advantages

Not all cranes are created equally. When it comes to working within a confined jobsite, mini crawler articulated cranes are often the answer to lifting challenges. Their ability to navigate difficult routes and fit through tight entryways, yet lift significant amounts of weight, add value despite their modest appearance. The May issue of International Cranes Magazine highlights some of the mini crawler cranes available.

Easy movement

Austrian manufacturer Palfinger has designed a crane that can separate from its crawler unit, allowing it to walk on its outriggers with movements like a crab. This allows easy sideways and forward movement inside of factories and warehouse areas. Additionally, the crane sitting on the floor is ideal for worksites with lower ceilings and overhead clearance.

Jekko offers several models of its mini crawler cranes designed to fit through a standard single doorway or even inside of an elevator. The Italy-based company says their JF545 combines the performance of a truck-mounted crane with the benefit of a self-propelled crawler chassis. It features a small size (17.7 x 5.9 x 9.1 feet) combined with six-extension main boom and total lifting power of just over 17 tons.

Big and small

Mammoet is well-known for their massive crawler and ring cranes to mobile truck and all terrain cranes, but in 2018 introduced the Hoeflon C10 mini crawler. At a width of just 2.62 feet and maximum lifting capacity of 4.4 US tons, it can reach a total of 62 feet while lifting 460 pounds. It’s powered by a three-cylinder diesel or all-electric engine.

GGR Group offers several mini crawlers including the TMC 525. It is designed to travel on slopes and rough or uneven terrain with a continuous slewing system for improved load placement control. It has a width of just 2.56 feet and maximum lift height of 105 feet. The standard model includes a diesel engine, but a lithium-ion battery powered version is available.

More details can be read at International Cranes’ website by clicking here.

May 17, 2022

Tadano Adds Innovative 2-Axle Crane to its Lineup

Crane manufacturer Tadano recently introduced a 2-axle all terrain crane to its new models. The AC 2.040-1 is considered groundbreaking in that it’s the company’s first crane developed jointly by their factories in Lauf and Zweibrücken, Germany. Additionally, it is the first member of Tadano’s future AC family and reflects completion of the merger between Tadano and Demag. From this point onward, all cranes manufactured by the company will be sold under the Tadano name.

First in the family

The AC 2.040-1 is the first of 15 new models to be introduced during the next few years, and its DNA will act as a blueprint for those cranes. All Tadano AC cranes will share features including a standardized crane control system, cab, and advanced technologies. CEO Jens Ennen stated, “The slogan for our one-brand strategy is ‘Your Passion. Our DNA.’ As far as we’re concerned, cranes are more than just a product we sell.”

Advanced Features

The IC 1 Plus control system uses automatic counterweight detection and capacity radar to determine the lifting capacity for every boom position. This allows the crane to make use of the maximum available lifting capacity with all outrigger configurations. The one-of-a-kind Tadano Surround View camera system shows maximum possible extension lengths for the outriggers along with counterweight tailswing radius, making positioning at the worksite easier.

Compact and maneuverable

The crane’s compact size makes it an ideal lifting solution at constrained worksites, and the steerable rear axle makes it highly maneuverable. Able to carry up to 2,425 lbs. of counterweight, it stays under an axle load of 26,455 lbs. The 310 HP Cummins engine offers quiet operation for traveling, low fuel consumption and a long drivetrain life.

Lots of power on two axles

The AC 2.040-1 has the capacity to lift 16,755 lbs. with a fully extended boom length of 115.5 ft. at a radius of 26.3 feet. This is something that no other crane in its class can do. Total lifting capacity without adding sheaves is 70,327 lbs. Maximum boom length is 115.5 ft. but can be lengthened with a 29.5 ft. extension, offsetable up to 40 degrees.

Read the whole story at Crane Hotline’s website by clicking here. Image above courtesy of Tadano.

May 5, 2022

Care for the Crane, Care for the Operator

Following a maintenance plan for cranes and other heavy-duty equipment is always a smart investment of time and resources. The crane will run more efficiently, safely, experience fewer breakdowns, and be a reliable asset over the long run. The same could be said for the crane operator. The April issue of American Cranes & Transport Magazine (ACT) includes an article that stresses the importance of the crane operator’s health, both physically and mentally.

Some helpful ideas are summarized below.

Physical health

Hydration – In general, a person should drink half of their body weight in ounces of high-quality beverages such as water and herbal tea (i.e., 180 lbs. weight = 90 oz. of beverage). Caffeinated drinks and those containing high amounts of sugar, such as coffee, soda, and juice should be avoided while on the job.

Sleep – The average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Many construction-related jobs have early start times, so being committed to an early bedtime with no sleep distractions (such as phones and TV) will help the operator be more alert.

Nourishment – Healthy eating is essential to a healthy weight, posing less risk of injury on the jobsite. The more basic and natural the food, with as little chemicals and additives as possible, the better for overall health.

Movement – Walking, stretching, and staying active promote cardiovascular and metabolic health, as well as boosting overall mood. Exercise is a natural antidepressant.

Mental health

Be thankful – For a job done safely, for filling a valuable role in the construction industry, for coworkers remaining unharmed and everyone doing their best work.

Take a breath – Try a practice known as “box breathing.” Inhale for a count of four, retain the breath for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, then hold your breath for a count of four. Repeat if needed. Deep breathing increases the amount of oxygen to the brain, stabilizes blood pressure and is a stress reliever.

Other ideas for improved mental health include meditation, sitting still, and other activities to quiet the mind such as hiking, fishing, or a hobby you enjoy.

Read the whole story at ACT’s website by clicking here.

April 26, 2022

Protect Construction Workers – Slow Down!

The Florida Department of Transportation reminds motorists to slow down and practice caution when driving through work zones in the Sunshine State. This week is designated National Work Zone Awareness Week, a program that began in 1999. State agencies sponsor education and other initiatives to persuade drivers to put away all distractions and follow the speed limit in work zones.

Safety & mobility investments

Florida is spending over $12 billion on transportation investments in 2022. These changes will improve overall safety and mobility for everyone who drives on Florida’s highways. But those improvements cannot happen without the hard work of thousands of men and women on the scene.

A lot of the roadwork projects are done at night as an effort to reduce traffic congestion and inconvenience to drivers. But this puts workers at a higher risk of injury, especially in high-speed areas. Motorists can do their part by following these simple steps:

  • Stay alert
  • Slow down
  • Avoid distractions
  • Never tailgate, even when not driving in a work zone
  • Change lanes carefully and always use turn signals
  • Be prepared to stop if needed

Unfortunate statistics

During the period of 2017 through 2021 Florida saw 53,548 work zone-related collisions that included 376 fatalities and 1,904 severe injuries. FDOT Secretary Jared Perdue stated, “Work zone safety is everyone’s responsibility. Together, we can reach FDOT’s target of zero fatal crashes and serious injuries by staying alert, slowing down, and always being prepared to stop.”

Click here to read all the details at WFTV 9 Orlando’s website. Image above courtesy of WFTV.

April 14, 2022

Grove Cranes Celebrates 75 Years

This year marks the 75th anniversary of crane manufacturer Grove. The company is one of the most recognized brands in the industry with operations located around the world. Grove’s selection of products includes all terrain, rough terrain, truck, and industrial cranes.

Brothers John and Dwight Grove, along with their colleague Wayne Nicarry, built farm wagons in Shady Grove, Pennsylvania back in the 1940s. They realized a more efficient system to move raw materials for the wagons was needed, and in 1947 John Grove built a primitive mobile crane equipped with rubber tires. As time progressed, he developed the first industrial mobile cranes with hydraulic components. This in turn shifted the company focus from farming equipment to cranes.

By 1967 the company employed over 1,000 people and manufactured a variety of rough terrain and truck cranes. One of their most successful models was the RT-58, produced between 1960 and 1978. The 14-ton machine was a cab down design with a 24 to 60-foot three-section telescopic main boom and optional 20-foot stowaway jib.

In 1968, Walter Kidde Company purchased Grove Industries and John Grove left the company. He went on to start another company named Condor Industries, renamed JLG (John L. Grove’s initials) in 1973. JLG is well known to this day for producing aerial work platforms and scissor lifts.

Grove was acquired by Manitowoc Cranes in 2002. Aaron Ravenscroft, president and CEO of The Manitowoc Company, Inc. said, “We’re extremely proud to celebrate Grove’s tremendous journey over the past 75 years. Our sincere gratitude goes out to our customers and the crane operators that helped promote the Grove legacy.”

Sims Crane & Equipment’s selection of cranes includes several models built by Grove. Capacity range is 40 to 550 tons, with boom lengths of 144 to 437 feet.

Read Grove’s story at Manitowoc’s website by clicking here. Additional details regarding Grove’s history can be read here. Image above courtesy of Grove/Manitowoc.

April 1, 2022

New Flat Top Tower Crane from Liebherr

Liebherr has added a new model to their selection of flat top tower cranes. The 470 EC-B in 17.6 and 22-ton configurations joins the top end of their EC-B series with engineering for easy assembly and transport. A recent article at America Highways’ website reviews the enhanced features and capacities of this new crane.

Now available

The 470 EC-B went on sale in January of this year. Both configurations feature a jib length of 262 feet. At that reach, the 17.6-ton crane has a jib head maximum load capacity of just over 3.5 tons, and the 20-ton model a capacity of just over 3 tons. A 10-ft. jib extension is available.

When combined with the Liebherr 24 HC 420 tower system, the 470 EC-B provides a cost-effective solution with freestanding hook heights up to 222 feet.

Designed for easy transport & setup   

Streamlining of the crane’s transport and assembly was at the forefront of the development stage. Attachment of the jib and counter-jib to the slewing platform has been simplified with quick-assembly connections. Transporting the slewing assembly, jib, and counter ballast requires the use of only five trucks, which saves time and reduces emissions.

Roomy & sophisticated cab

Three versions of the operator’s cab are available: LiCAB Basic, Air, and AirPlus. Each features floor space of over 6 sq. ft. and an unrestricted view of the work happening around and below. A newly developed 12” touch screen display features a user-friendly operating system with specific menus and multitude of language options.

More details can be read by clicking here. Image above courtesy of Liebherr.

March 14, 2022

The Howard Frankland Bridge Expansion – No Small Task

Most people who live in the Tampa Bay area have driven over the Howard Frankland Bridge at least once. For many, the bridge is a vital part of the commute if they live in Tampa and work in St. Petersburg or vice versa. According to Florida Traffic Online, the Howard Frankland Bridge carries 3.5 times more traffic than the Gandy Bridge to the south and 2.5 times more traffic than the Courtney Campbell Causeway to the north. Freight trucks made up about 6% of its traffic in 2020; around 3,900 trucks in each direction every day. The steady increase in usage prompted construction of a new, larger span of the bridge which began in April 2020 at an estimated cost of $865 million. Construction is expected to be finished by late 2025.

A little bit of history

Tampa Businessman Howard Frankland proposed the original four-lane bridge (currently used as the northbound span) which was completed in April 1960 at a cost of $16 million. Modifications were made to improve safety, but by 1978 plans were in the works for a larger replacement. The decision to build a parallel bridge instead was reached in 1987 and construction began the following year. In 1990, the $54 million southbound section was opened and accommodated both directions of traffic while updates were made to the northbound span. In 1992, both spans opened and have remained in use to this day.

A labor-intensive process

Up to 250 workers at a time will be present during construction. A small ferry carries them to locations where the bridge pilings are installed. Large holes are drilled into the hard sedimentary rock (called chert), some of them extending 200 feet below the surface of the water. The rock’s toughness is more evident on the Hillsborough County side of the bay. Cranes use large hammers to drive pilings into the holes. Drilling takes place at night while most other construction happens during daylight hours. Over the next few months, beams will be placed followed by concrete poured for the bridge deck. Cement mixers will operate from the current bridge to reach the first half of the new bridge.

“Everything looks easier when you’re just watching from afar,” said Greg Deese, a Florida DOT engineer. “The logistics that it takes just to transport people to the work zone, to get materials, and also try to do this while not impacting traffic — it’s a very drawn out, very complex process that requires constant coordination.”

Beams will be placed starting late Spring 2022, followed by deck construction early Summer 2022.

The numbers:

  • Project length is 6.4 miles
  • 3,006 piles measure 40 miles end to end
  • 1,727 beams measure 46 miles end to end
  • More than 172,000 cubic yards of concrete
  • More than 36,674,636 pounds of rebar

To date:

  • Approximately 41% of all pilings for the bridge foundations have been driven
  • Bridge footings – 95 of 549 have been constructed
  • Bridge columns – 80 of 549 have been completed
  • Bridge pier caps – 26 of 226 have been completed

Information courtesy of Tampa Bay Business Journal, click here for the complete story. Additional details found at WFLA’s website here. Information about the bridge’s history can be read here. Image above courtesy of Wikipedia.

February 17, 2022