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Salt Lake Leads in Bridge Building  
By Dian Thomas

The world we live in is ever changing and it just seems to go faster and faster. If you have been in Salt Lake in the last year you will know that I-80 had a new “bridge lift” along with three bridges on I-215. It not new to build a bridge, but it is new to build a bridge off sight and move it into place. In fact, Salt Lake had built 12 new bridges off sight and moved them into place in just three months. This was a gold medal performance. It is the largest project of its kind in the world.

This was a show that attracted “Civil Engineer,” the “Discovery Channel,” and interested public from around the world.

One of the bridges was built in my neighborhood. As I was driving to the store Friday morning, I was stopped by a 1 million 300 lb. bridge making its way down the road about a mile-and-a-half to its new home. Until you have seen one going down the street, it is hard to believe.

People from all over the valley showed up to watch the 12 bridges this summer roll into place. All I could say is, “I just can't believe it.”


Bridge going down the street.

There were many men and woman running around with orange vests and hard hats. When one got close enough to talk to, I would ask him what his job was. My favorite answer was from a gentleman who told me his job was to make sure that no one was killed.

To move the bridge down the street, a special crew of nine came in to run the jack that held the bridge up. The original concept and idea was developed in Holland . The manager of the team to move the bridge was from Holland .


Jack that moves the bridge.

As you look at the two big jacks that help the bridge up, you see all the tires. I was told that each one had over 190 tires supporting the weight. I could only imagine the challenge they could have if they went in to rotate the tires! The two jacks were driven by a man who had a 18 X 18 inch box strapped onto his back. He had a small joy stick that he moved to power the jacks. He walked along side of the bridge as it rolled down the street. The speed was very slow. It took about 2.5 hours to travel ¾ mile.


Over 190 plus tires on Jack

Here are some other statistics I gathered from the men and women in orange vests and hard hats.

The bridge cost about 20 % more to build off sight and move into place than one built on location.
The bridge company had the weekend to destroy the old bridge and have the new one in place with the freeway opened on Monday. If they made this deadline, they would receive over $100,000 for a bonus. If they missed the deadline, they would have to pay $3.33 for every second or about 20,000 an hour.
The accountant told me that the bridge cost about $10 million to build and put into place.
The new bridge is expected to last 75 to 100 years.
After rolling down Wasatch Boulevard about ¾ mile, they parked the bridge just off the street and waited until midnight when the traffic was stopped, and the bridge rolled onto and down the freeway until it was in place to replace the one that they had to destroy.

Friday night the freeway came to a stop, and the demolishing of the bridge began at midnight. Within 24 hours the bridge was destroyed, the new one was in place, and I was driving down the freeway under the bridge.


First I beam being rmoved

As I sat and watched the operation from midnight to 4 AM, I met the most interesting people who came to watch the show. Cars drove by all night to check out the progress. At four I was so tired, I could not keep both eyes open. I went home and dropped into bed.


Bridge Being Destroyed

As soon as I was up the next day, I hurried back to see the progress. At 10 AM the bridge was pretty much down.

To bring the bridge down, they started at midnight with two big cranes with a huge jack hammer on the end and one big crane with a big front-loading bucket.

By 3 PM the bridge was down and most of it was hauled away in big dump trucks.

When the bridge was removed, it was time for the man with the box to start the jacks moving which would move the bridge into place. Boy, at that point I sure hoped the calculation was right.


New Bridge being put into place

This bridge was the last of 12 other bridges that were build along I-80 and I-215.

As I sat though the night, I thought how much Brigham Young would have loved to have this new technology for just a few days. Instead of taking 40 years to build the Salt Lake Temple , it possible could have been done in just a few months.

On your next journey into Salt Lake , be sure to check out all the new bridges on I-80 and I 215.

   
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