Indiana’s I-69 extension moves closer to completion
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is in the midst of a highway improvement project 75 years in the making. Dubbed the “I-69 Finish Line,” the project is the sixth and final section of the Interstate 69 connection between Evansville and Indianapolis. It will upgrade the existing State Road 37 to interstate standards from Martinsville to Indianapolis. The extension is the realization of 75 years of studies and discussion about an improved, multi-lane highway connecting southwest Indiana.
The scope of work includes building 39 new bridges and rehabbing 35 existing bridges. New construction included a bridge over Little Indian Creek. It was to be constructed of precast concrete beams. With each beam weighing in excess of 100,000 pounds, it would require dual crane picks to lift and set each beam.
Milestone Contractors, the general contractor on the project, tapped Central Rent-A-Crane, a member of the ALL Family of Companies, to assist with providing lift equipment for the work, which ended up being performed by a Grove GMK6300L and a Link-Belt 218 HSL.
Each bridge span consisted of five beams, and three spans made for a total of 15 beams that needed to be set. Each five-beam span required both cranes to move and re-set before beginning that span.
“It was tight, the way we had to set the beams,” said Tim Welty, sales specialist and estimator with Central Rent-A-Crane. “The Grove was set up 20 feet lower down in the creek valley with the crawler set up top.”
The Grove GMK6300L is a 350-ton capacity all-terrain (AT) crane. It was configured with 103 feet of main boom, 203,900 pounds of counterweight, and 29 feet of lift radius at 360 degrees. That configuration remained mostly the same through the three different set-ups for the three different spans of the bridge.
The Link-Belt 218 HSL is a 110-ton capacity crawler crane configured with 80 feet of main boom and a 30-foot lift radius at 360 degrees.
The two cranes worked well together because the Grove AT had the capacity to handle the load at 100 feet of boom, while the crawler remained above to assist with picking and setting the 100,000-pound beams.
“The Grove had excellent maneuverability in the valley, helping to make setting the 15 precast beams happen efficiently,” said Welty.
Turning an existing state roadway, in this case State Road 37, and bringing it up to interstate standards to make it part of I-69 requires lane widening. The new bridge reflects those standards.