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Memorial bridge columns rising

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The old cracked ones are coming down for a project originally thought ready by early 2004. It is now scheduled to open Sept. 1. By AARON SHAROCKMAN Published May 6, 2005 CLEARWATER – Crews began to affix eight new columns Thursday to the half-mile Memorial Causeway bridge, the climax of a six-month repair for this oft-troubled project. It will take at least two weeks to connect the new columns to the 7.2-million pound roadway, say bridge engineers, who likened the procedure to brain surgery. The fix, which involves transferring the weight of the roadway from the old columns to their replacements, is the first of its kind in Florida and possibly one of a handful ever performed. “I’ll be happy when they cut the old columns,” said Bill Adams, a senior project engineer with Parsons Brinckerhoff. “But, you know, it’s going to be like watching hair grow. It’s not something that’s going to take place in five minutes.” In December, workers began building eight columns – two for each damaged one – from the ground up nearly 75 feet. Now they’ll fasten the new columns to the roadway. Heavy-duty jacks positioned in an opening on top of the new columns will make the connection with the roadway. The jacks will actually lift the road slightly, not more than 1/16 of an inch. Then using a wire saw, crews will slowly slice through the old column, nearly severing it near a point where it meets the road. As workers cut, some weight of the road will shift to the new columns. Crews will next fill in between the jacks and road with a super-strength grout. Then they’ll remove the jacks and finish cutting through the old column, completely transferring the weight of the roadway. The process will take three to four days per column, moving one column at a time, said the Florida Transportation Department’s Kris Carson. Workers will then bring down four badly cracked columns, which the department ordered removed before the $48.5-million bridge opened. Adams said the old columns aren’t necessary and would alter the bridge’s sleek design if they remained. The bridge, originally thought ready by early 2004, is now scheduled to open Sept. 1. If it isn’t ready then, bridge builder PCL Civil Constructors faces a $365,000 fine. Aaron Sharockman can be reached at 727 445-4160 or Source:
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