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Published: Friday, 4/2/2004

Crane work to resume on I-280 bridge site

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A contractor says the erecting-truss crane that will resume work is a different design that the one that collapsed Feb. 16. A contractor says the erecting-truss crane that will resume work is a different design that the one that collapsed Feb. 16.
LONG / BLADE Enlarge

A state contractor plans to resume operation tomorrow of an erecting-truss crane for construction of the Front Street entrance ramp to the new I-280 bridge over the Maumee River.

The crane is of a different design from one at the site that collapsed Feb. 16, killing four workers, and has been thoroughly inspected before returning to use, Joe Rutherford, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman, said yesterday.

"Fru-Con did a top-to-bottom inspection. They looked at every weld, all the steel, all the fittings. They did some refresher training for the employees," Mr. Rutherford said. "We reviewed all that and concurred that the truss is safe to operate."

As a precaution, northbound I-280 will be closed for most of this weekend, and for most of three more weekends after Easter, during crane positioning and while prefabricated concrete bridge segments are hung over the roadway. From 6 a.m. tomorrow until 3 p.m. Sunday, the northbound lanes will be closed between Navarre Avenue and Front Street, with through traffic detoured via State Rt. 795 and I-75.

Still to be determined is whether Fru-Con Construction Corp. of Ballwin, Mo., general contractor for the $220 million project, will reactivate the survivor of the large, twin erecting-truss cranes used to assemble mainline bridge spans before the collapse.

Along with the four who died, four men were hurt.

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation is to finish by mid-August. The accident has delayed completion by more than a year.

Work using the horizontal cranes, which lift and hold the bridge segments into position until they are sealed together with epoxy and steel reinforcing cables, has been suspended.

Fru-Con spokesman Steve Houston said a plan will be delivered to ODOT "very shortly," but could not be more specific. Once the plan is received, state officials will review it to determine how mainline construction should proceed.

The crane used for ramp construction, while similar in function to the larger crane that collapsed, uses a different system to travel from span to span as each is assembled. Instead of travelling along a prepositioned "underbridge" beam, the ramp truss has adjustable legs upon which it rests, and travels, directly.

"It's an entirely different truss, and an entirely different operation," Mr. Rutherford said. The crane that collapsed was being repositioned when it fell.

ODOT also is investigating quality control problems with concrete used to build the piers and pylon for the bridge.

At ODOT's direction, the contractor is performing an engineering analysis to find if 120 cubic yards of concrete poured on the pylon in January that does not meet strength specifications can be left in place. Samples of the concrete, which was supposed to withstand pressure of 10,000 pounds per square inch, failed at about 8,000 pounds in several tests.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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