Case Study: Bayonne Bridge Approaches Project
GCCOM Construction Company Inc. was charged with the task of dismantling the Bayonne Bridge Approaches with the help of rental equipment specialists, Lifting Gear Hire.
For Project Manager, Jason Schreck, and his company, GCCOM Construction Company Inc., executing the highest of safety standards is crucial to completing their latest endeavor – the demolition of the Bayonne Bridge Approaches – on time and on budget.
For years, large cargo ships were unable to pass under the Bayonne Bridge to reach Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal due to the bridge’s low headroom. Bayonne Bridge is an arch-bridge which spans the Kill Van Kull connecting Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York City. To rectify this, the bridge would need to be elevated substantially in order to allow ocean liners to cross into the harbor. In 2009, an environmental impact report was created to review what effects raising a bridge from the Depression Era would have on the environment. As part of former President Obama’s “It Can’t Wait” initiative in 2012, approval was finally given, but due to the fact that the review spanned nearly 20,000 pages and no less than 47 permits were required, construction couldn’t start until 2016.
GCCOM is a minority-owned steel erecting firm that was created to serve the heavy construction market in the New York/New Jersey area, in both the public and private sectors.
They were hired as a subcontractor to ACD/EIG, JV, a subcontractor of Skanska Koch/Kiewit, JV, who were charged with the dismantling of the previous existing structure.
“We don’t handle the nice and easy stuff,” Schreck said. “Our company likes the complex projects that provide us an opportunity to showcase our talent. And we really do have a talented team who always strive to find the best solution for each problem. On a site, anything can happen. You make a plan for tomorrow and the next day you come to work, there is a crane where you were supposed to begin that day, so now you’re forced to adapt and change your course of action. The work we’re currently performing on the Bayonne Bridge is a perfect example. It’s such a fluid, moving project that really provides us a unique challenge.”
“What makes the project unique and challenging is that another construction company is currently building a new deck, approximately 65 feet above the existing road that our team is working under,” Schreck said. “We have crews working above us for the demolition of the existing roadway and our crew working below to remove the structural steel skeleton of the original structure. Additionally, the project schedule dictates that we have one crew working on the New York end and another working from the New Jersey end.”
As if that didn’t sound challenging enough already, the aspect of the project that really forced GCCOM to exercise some ingenuity was logistics. When working underneath a new structure that’s being constructed at the same time as the one you’re dismantling, new considerations have to be brought to the forefront.
“We are working underneath a new structure that is previously constructed and in and around the next phase of the project that remains under construction at the same time, so we’ve had constraints both above and around our demolition operations,” Schreck elaborated. “It’s a congested site with multiple trades working at the same time. As we’re performing our steel removal, we have ACD/EIG behind us hammering on a pier and completing the substructure removal, contractors drilling on the foundation – it’s just a very constricted site. Our typical span for removal has five floor beams which are approximately 50-75 tons with the new bridge directly above us. This in some cases restricted the available headroom to work within. We rented a 10 ft Mod Beam, 20 ft Mod Beam, and all the associated rigging from LGH.”
Despite the challenges involved, GCCOM and ACD/EIG have completed the early stages of the project. In fact, the long-awaited removal of the bridge’s lower roadway has since been completed by Skanska Koch/Kiewit. Now, the elevated bridge allows ships 64 more feet of headroom clearance underneath, but there’s still work to be done to complete the removal of the approaches. In total, only 40% of the New York side is completed and about 10% on the New Jersey side, which had only begun deconstruction a mere few weeks ago.
When asked what the key was to the initial success shared by Schreck and the other employees of GCCOM in the process of dismantling the road despite the many challenges involved, Schreck was prepared with an answer.
“The key is using safe equipment,” Schreck proclaimed. “We rented equipment from Lifting Gear Hire and all of it was excellent. Our Rental Representative, Jason Rios, is a great guy. He never says, “I can’t.” For 4 or 5 years, we’ve been using Lifting Gear Hire and we’ve never regretted the decision to do so. We used to buy our own rigging, but after we would use it, we’d store it in a yard until next time. When we would have a need for it again for an upcoming project, we either couldn’t find it or it was damaged at that point. So it was just a smarter decision to rent the equipment instead. We received good quality material that was in great working order. So, you can use it, send it back when you’re done, and re-rent it if you need to. It’s a good arrangement for a company like ours. Additionally, a lot of specific jobs including the Bayonne Bridge Project require the equipment be certified prior to usage so it works out nicely that LGH’s equipment comes certified and stamped already. With the rules and regulations for this jobsite, everything must be stamped and have serial numbers that correspond to the certifications.”
Moreover, once on the jobsite, Schreck realized that one set of chokers in the lift plan were not the right size. The ones that were initially ordered were in fact too short and this could’ve resulted in time and profit loss. However, one quick phone call to LGH was all that was required to move the project along.
“We called Jason that morning when we realized we had the wrong ones. He had the right chokers for us that afternoon. The service at LGH is second to none. At some points, it was key to keeping the job moving along. When we realized we ordered the wrong ones, we started to make provisions in order to move the material in some other way, but it turned out that LGH could get the right chokers to us that same day, so it helped push the job along. In fact, whenever we run into a problem, LGH has had the capability to come and help us find a solution to that problem. For a company like ours, we can’t just buy stuff and leave it on the ground and forget about it. When it rots away, you’re forced to buy new stuff. We’re a small company so the advantage for us is definitely the ability to have quality equipment to rent.
The team is slated to be working on the bridge all summer long, but all signs indicate that the project should be completed on time and on budget. In terms of next stages, GCCOM is to continue in removing the steel framework of the old bridge. They are working to remove the structural steel at heights up to 150 ft total. They initially began deconstructing at a height of 20 ft and the team is currently completing the removals at a height of 80-100 ft.
“So for the steel removal work, we’re about halfway through the height curve on the New York Approach,” Schreck laughed. “When we get higher, we’re going to have to get involved in the deck removal process.
“Overall, the entire project is centered around the new superliners that come through the Panama Canal. The whole project is very interesting because they’re building a new road 64 feet above the existing one so that our team can take down the old road and these ocean liners can come through. With the commencement of the removal of the old roadway, they’re starting to build the final phase of the project, which is to finish the next phase of the new upper roadway. In this business, we need partners and we consider people like LGH and Jason as such. Whenever we scope out a new job and think about the rigging aspect of it, we say, “let’s talk to LGH.” A job doesn’t get built on it’s own. It’s a team effort – whether it’s the guys on the job or the vendors supporting you. For us, when we run into a job like this, LGH becomes a partner. It becomes a team effort and you need to build a team from those you trust. And you can always trust LGH to have equipment on hand that is safe, tested, and certified. That’s what’s really crucial to a successful project. Safe equipment, hands down.”
About GCCOM Construction Company, Inc.: Founded with a mission to provide quality construction services based on sound engineering, integrity, and professionalism, GCCOM is a minority-owned steel erecting firm that was created to serve the heavy construction market in the New York/New Jersey area, in both the public and private sectors. http://gccom.us
About LGH: Founded in 1990, Lifting Gear Hire (LGH) is the largest single multinational organization devoted exclusively to the provision of lifting and moving equipment for rental. LGH provides hoisting, pulling, jacking, rigging, material handling and safety equipment available for immediate and safe use. LGH’s mission is to offer expertise in the rental of the safest and most reliable hoisting and rigging equipment to build and support a better world. LGH – Puts Safety First. www.rentLGH.com