Published Oct 13, 2023
In Roads and Bridges


two red crawler cranes lifting part of a bridge

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) is in the midst of improvements to double track — two tracks that see traffic in both directions — its South Shore commuter rail line between Gary and Michigan City. The focus recently shifted to the northwest part of the state and its West Lake Corridor branch, running from Hammond to Dyer.

Meanwhile, a pair of cranes with rail systems of their own are aiding this construction.

Metropolitan Steel is building a dozen bridges for the elevated portion of the track. Central Rent-A-Crane, a member of the ALL Family of Companies, is providing heavy lift equipment for the bridge construction, which includes seven bridges in just two miles.

Work on the second bridge in the sequence required two Manitowoc MLC300 lattice boom crawler cranes to perform a series of dual picks. Massive girder spans weighing over 300,000 pounds first needed to be taken from flatbeds, set in a staging area, and later moved into position atop bridge abutments.

Each MLC300 was configured with 157 feet of main boom and 474,000 pounds of VPC-MAX counterweight. The patented Variable Position Counterweight (VPC) system automatically balances the crane’s center of gravity – coincidentally using an on-board rail system. This one transfers the counterweight from back to front, depending on the boom extension.

VPC-MAX eliminated the needs for carbody counterweights and helped reduce ground bearing pressure and the crane’s overall operating footprint, cutting the number of mats by up to half of what would normally be needed—thereby also reducing ground preparations. It improves stability and gets the cranes ready and working faster.

“We chose the two MLC300s for this job because they offer the capacities we needed,” said Kevin Macuga, project coordinator for Central Rent-A-Crane. The twin crawlers will become a familiar site in Northwest Indiana. “They’re the right tools for the other bridges we’re constructing,” said Macuga.

A single MLC300 is also handling the picking and setting of fill-in steel needed in between the larger girders. Metropolitan Steel ironworkers connect and secure all the pieces together.

As work on the 12 bridges continues into early next year, the two MLC300 crawlers will continue their work. A different crawler, the Manitowoc 18000, with its stunning 825-ton capacity, will also be brought in to perform some single picks as well.

Central Rent-A-Crane has other lift equipment on the scene to assist with its operations, including two hydraulic crawlers, a 50-ton Link-Belt TCC 500 and 250-ton Link-Belt TCC 2500, and an 80-ton Grove GRT880 rough terrain crane. Having a balanced fleet is hallmark of the ALL Family of Companies. Having the just-right tool for the job takes investing in technology, and that’s another thing customers can count on from ALL.