Moving a 3.1-Million-Pound Bridge-Builder

In August 2017, a timelapse video featured the orange moveable scaffolding system (MSS) being moved between bridge columns on the west side of the water channel in prep for being lifted into place to construct the eastbound incline. On January 23, 2018, it was the blue MSS’ turn to move to the eastbound decline, having completed the building of the westbound incline.

The orange MSS move was relatively easy compared to the blue one, though. Since the orange MSS is constructing the eastbound lanes in the same direction as it did the westbound lanes (i.e., from ground level toward the main span), it moved laterally from one approach to the other. Conversely, the blue MSS is switching directions; it will build the eastbound lanes headed down the approach, versus heading up the approach on the westbound side.

That switch entailed spinning the massive 3.1-million-pound blue MSS 180 degrees around. Given the tight quarters between the two rows of approach bridge columns, this move required precision planning and execution. The timelapse above shows the move, which took just less than an hour, in 40 seconds. The 180-degree turn required the MSS to squeeze within 3 inches of the westbound-approach columns. That’s how close it was.

As the huge machine turns, the transport operators realized that the turn was coming close to the eastbound-approach columns, requiring what amounted to a three-point turn. In a car, that maneuver isn’t too tough; with a gigantic MSS, it required a very deft touch. If you want to watch the move in real time, check out the 33-minute video that is posted here.