Woodrow Wilson Piles Attract Hammer From Holland

To make sure the job is done right, a Maryland contracting company will go to great lengths, Holland, to be exact — to secure the proper pieces of construction equipment.

The Glen Burnie, MD-based McLean Contracting Co. was awarded the $2.9-million contract to conduct pile-load tests in preparation for the mammoth renovation of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. The pile- load testing is scheduled to continue for approximately three months. Actual piles to support the foundation of the bridge, however, are not expected to be driven until next year.

One of the pieces of equipment which McLean will be using during the pile-load testing project is the 59.4-metric-ton (66 ton) IHC Hydrohammer, which the company rented and had shipped from IHC in Holland. The hammer drives the piles into the water and is scheduled to be received in the Port of Baltimore in the third week of April.

“We felt that the IHC Hydrohammer was the best piece of equipment for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge pile demo project because it is much larger than what is typically available along the East Coast,” said George Bosmajian, McLean’s vice president and chief engineer. The Hydrohammer can handle in excess of 271,200 Nm (200,000 ft/lbs) and weighs in at approximately 45 metric tons (50 tons).

With a maximum energy of 149,974 Nm (110,600 ft/lbs) per blow, the Hydrohammer features a high blow rate of about 50 to 150 blows per minute, an adjustable hammer energy per blow from 5 percent to 100 percent, a high energy transfer into pile of up to 90 percent and can operate under water without loss of energy. The product also includes sensors for continuous monitoring and a quiet hydraulic hammer; optional additional sound-proofing is available.

In addition to the Hydrohammer import from Holland, McLean is utilizing two other unusual pieces of construction equipment for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge pile demonstration. One is a customized floating crane owned by McLean which the company actually built.

The revolving crane (which has been dubbed the “Cape Fear” by McLean) features a 135-metric-ton (150 ton) capacity and 15-meter (50 ft.) radius permanently affixed to a barge. “Cape Fear” is scheduled to be towed up to the Potomac River to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge location in the last week of April.

The other unusual piece of equipment at the site is another IHC device: noise reduction bellows. The bellows will fit on top of the hammer and pile while the piles are being driven, and are expected to significantly reduce noise by use of the device, added Bosmajian. This is especially important to those residents and businesses located in the nearby Alexandria, VA, and Oxen Hill, MD, neighborhoods, which were opposed to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge expansion because of the noise pollution.

McLean will drive nine piles in three locations to the south of the existing structure along the opposed routing of the new bridge: three 107-centimeter (42 in.), .3-meter (1 ft.) all 40-meter (130 ft.) long steel pipe piles; three 137-centimeter (54 in.), .3-meter (1 ft.) wall, 53-meter (175 ft.) long pipe piles; one 142-centimeter (56 in.) .3-meter (1 ft.) wall, 30-meter (100 ft.) long pipe piles and two 61-centimeter (24 in.), 19-meter (62 ft.) long pressed concrete piles.

All pile will be instrumented with strain gages which will be monitored during the load test periods. Specific load tests will be conducted on: 1,080- metric-ton (1,200 tons) load test on the 107-centimeter (42 in.) piles; 2,025-metric-ton (2,250 ton) load test on 137-centimeter (54 in.) diameter piles; 945-metric-ton (1,050 ton) load test on the 142-centimeter (56 in.) piles; 540-metric-ton (600 tons) testing on the concrete piles; 23-metric-ton (25 ton) lateral load test between concrete pile and 11-meter (36 ft.) pipe.

McLean will be monitoring and reporting while dynamically monitoring and driving seven- and 14-day restrikes. Terms also call for removal of the piles at mudline upon completion of the demonstration.

Founded in 1903, McLean Contracting Company has been in the heavy construction industry performing an extensive range of both land based and marine construction, and is fully owned by its employees. CEG

SIDEBAR

$1.9B Project Doubles Lanes of Woodrow

Wilson Bridge by 2004

McLean’s involvement with the pile drive demo is just one preliminary step in the $1.9-billion Woodrow Wilson Bridge renovation and expansion project. Recently, the federal appellate court overturned a 1999 ruling by the Federal District Court of D.C. which required extensive environmental tests be completed, thus giving the green light to proceed with plans to double the existing six-lane Woodrow Wilson Bridge to 12 lanes.

The renovation project currently is on schedule, according to John Undeland, spokesperson for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.

When it originally opened in 1961, the bridge was designed to accommodate 75,000 vehicles daily; today, the bridge is stressed by a whopping 200,000 vehicles per day — almost triple the amount of volume it was designed to handle. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge has become a “cattle shoot” over the years, said Undeland, with eight beltway lanes feeding into six lanes on the bridge. The bridge links Alexandria, VA, with Prince George’s County, MD, over the Potomac River along I-295. Engineers have warned that heavy trucks will have to be banned from the present, six-lane span by 2004.

Because the bridge is rapidly wearing out, the “Band-Aid” approach will not remedy the issues of safety, congestion and its 20-year lifespan, Undeland said. This approach is costly and merely postpones the inevitable. For example, this fall a $3.5-million work project is required to replace the drawspan deck grate, a necessary requirement but a large drain of funds for a “patch” project.

To accommodate the influx, the comprehensive Woodrow Wilson Bridge project calls for the lanes to be doubled from six to 12, with 10 general-purpose lanes — eight traffic lanes to match the eight-lane Capital Beltway, plus two auxiliary lanes serving merging/exiting traffic from adjacent interchanges. In addition, two future lanes are earmarked for multiple-passenger usage, possibly including carpool, rail transit or express bus access, but Undeland stressed that these two lanes will not be opened until there are connecting systems in place in Virginia and Maryland.

The $1.9-billion project will be funded by $900 million from the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century; $600 million of federal monies scheduled for use from 2004 through 2007; and individual commitments from Virginia and Maryland for $200 million each.

Following the pile-drive demolition conducted by McLean Contracting this spring, the next step in bridge expansion will be for dredging.

Bids are anticipated to be advertised this summer for dredge work, with actual construction of the bridge scheduled to begin in the fall of 2000. Completion of the first of the twin spans is planned for late 2004; the second twin bridge and remainder of the project is scheduled to be complete in 2006.


You can also view previous issues of Superintendent's Profile.