Look out: Bridge on the move

  • Article by: JIM FOTI , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 25, 2008 - 11:20 PM

The first of 120 precast hunks of the new I-35W bridge was moved to the Mississippi River. Can you guess how much it weighs?

The first precast segment of the I-35W bridge made its way down West River Parkway on Friday. Workers moved wires out of the way as the 198-ton piece of a concrete box girder was carefully moved down the road to Bohemian Flats.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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The "oversize load" sign was something of an understatement.

A 198-ton piece of the new Interstate 35W bridge ambled down West River Parkway on Friday, becoming the first of 120 concrete segments to ride from the casting yard in the Seven Corners area down to Bohemian Flats.

The segments will receive some finishing work during their stay at the flats, including power-washing, said Kevin Gutknecht, a Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman. Then, as summer approaches, they'll be taken by barge up to the site and lifted into place by a floating crane.

The segments will be strung together with miles of steel cables to form a continuous 500-foot box girder over the Mississippi River.

The first segment's half-mile road trip Friday morning prompted dozens of office workers to peek out windows or step outside for a look. Two chains and two yellow straps held the 25-foot-tall segment in place on a 64-wheel flatbed trailer, and it just barely made it under some power lines.

Steel plates have been placed on sections of 13th Avenue S. to protect underground utilities from the weight, Gutknecht said.

The segment had a spray-painted code inside -- 2 SB1 EXT -- and an arrow. The code meant that the segment was for the outside southbound lanes and would be connected to Pier 2, on the river's downtown side. The arrow points toward the middle of the river.

Segment hauling will continue from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week for up to five weeks. Two blocks of 13th Avenue near the Red Cross building will be closed for several minutes whenever a segment comes through.

Crews are eager to get the segments moved off the old 35W roadbed so it can be rebuilt, Gutknecht said, adding that the bridge is on track to open on or before Dec. 24.

Jim Foti • 612-673-4491

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