Published Jul 7, 2015
In Unique Picks


ACT July 2015 The Chicago Ringer

ALL's 888 Ringer on the Chicago River has captured the attention of both heavy lifting enthusiasts and the simply curious. The job has received so much attention that it landed the coveted cover slot of ACT's July 2015 issue. Published in American Cranes & Transport - July 2015

A project to construct a new tower on the Chicago River presented a myriad of obstacles to navigate. But with precise planning and a unique crane setup, Central Contractors Services is finding a way to get the job done. The best crane of the job was a barge mounted 660-ton Manitowoc 888 rigged with 300 feet of boom and 600 tons of counterweight. 

There isn’t much room to build on the banks of the Chicago River. Skyscrapers and historic towers line the waterway, where every square inch of real estate has been accounted for. Still, dozens of construction and lifting projects are underway in a city that has seen a boom in building since the economy began ticking up two years ago.

One such project underway on the Chicago River exemplifies the intricacies of building on its banks. Clark Construction Group is building a 54-story office tower directly on the riverfront at 150 N. Riverside. The site is just south of where the river splits in two, across from the historic Civic Opera House.

Clark contracted Chicago-based Chicago Steel Construction, LLC (CSC) to complete 150 N. Riverside’s lifting and construction work (the structure’s build plans included precast plank erection for its foundation). With so many limitations to consider, CSC turned to Chicago-based Central Contractors Service, a branch of the ALL Family of Companies, based in Cleveland, OH.

Central had proven its merit in Chicago, wrapping up work on the city’s new River Walk and Wolf Point Tower, both just blocks away, in the first half of 2015. While CSC is in charge of the tower’s construction and lift requirements, Central was contracted to provide the crane and operator, and to finalize the project’s lifting plans.

The companies decided the best crane for the job would be a proven barge-mounted winner: the famed Manitowoc 888 Ringer. This choice of crane brought its maximum 300 feet of boom, 660 tons of lifting capacity and a Ringer setup that would distribute ground-bearing pressure evenly across the barge without taking up precious real estate on the jobsite.

Central and CSC engineers met with Manitowoc Cranes’ Lift Solutions team before its lifting plans were solidified. Having had a working relationship for several years, the company traveled to Manitowoc’s headquarters in Wisconsin to go over the details of the job.

Allen Kadow, Manitowoc’s Lift Solutions manager, said Central and CSC’s engineers had worked out great plans for project, but came back to Manitowoc to ensure it had optimized the plan’s parameters.

“We met with both Central and CSC at Manitowoc headquarters so that our two companies were within reach of our full arsenal of lift planning tools and software,” Kadow said. “It’s a testament to the company’s expertise that it came to us with a solid plan. We were able to verify that both companies worked together to formulate an ideal approach and we provided a vote of confidence before such a high-profile job.”

Barging In
Meetings with the U.S. Coast Guard dictated that the barge could not interfere with water traffic, although the barge would need to be big enough to accommodate the crane’s size and weight. Comprised of floating squares that fit together like puzzle pieces, a barge was assembled with a 132 by 99-foot barge deck and reaching a depth of 8 feet. The deck load point of the system allows for 10 tons per square foot, plenty of capacity for the Manitowoc 888 and its 600 tons of counterweight.

Central and Manitowoc Lift Solutions calculated the barge would list at 2 degrees, just to the crane’s specified limits. Central and CSC erected both the Manitowoc 888 and the barge over the course of 14 days.

“At first we thought we might have to go with a custom load chart for the Manitowoc 888, due to the barge mounting,” said John Martello, general manager of Central. “But because CSC was able to customize the barge to a size that met both the crane’s and the U.S. Coast Guard’s demands, we were able to use the standard BAGE chart for a Manitowoc 888 with 300 feet of boom.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge was planning the job around the several transportation corridors surrounding the site. At least two bridges and several Chicago streets and pedestrian walkways are directly adjacent to the jobsite, none of which can have traffic blocked. The barge-mounted Manitowoc 888 mitigated much of the traffic issues, keeping the crane at a far enough distance not to impede pedestrians and cars.

Another obstacle: An Amtrak train branch passes right through the jobsite. Its tracks lie between the crane and the only area from which it could lift material loads, a nearby canal on the other side. The Amtrak safety policy will not allow the crane to lift over moving trains, so all lifting work for the project has to be completed between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

With the strict schedule, only about eight loads can be lifted per night before the train resumes its trek. At night, the Manitowoc 888 is lifting by the light of several lighting towers placed on erected precast girders and the barge itself.

To keep work on the jobsite in motion during daylight hours, Central brought in a 165-ton Grove GMK5165-2 all terrain crane, which features a 197-foot, six-section full-power boom. The Grove moves loads around the jobsite, including much of the construction materials, and will assist in a tower crane erection at a later date. Due to the Grove’s minimal footprint, there was adequate space for it on site.

“We brought the Grove on site to make sure we still had lifting capabilities during the day,” Martello explained. “We’ve been using it to feed rebar to the site’s elevator core, for example.”

Lifting for 150 N. Riverside began in April and is expected to last one year. The project will cost approximately $490 million and will see the creation of a 742 foot-tall structure with office, dining, fitness and conference spaces. The tower is LEED-CS Gold pre-certified and will have a 100 percent green roof.

The Manitowoc 888 is lifting loads of construction materials, including concrete and steel beams that weigh up to 50 tons. The tower’s foundation is composed of precast bulb-tee girders that are about 100 feet long and 5 feet wide.

Some 200 of the girders required lifting. Central is able to pick approximately eight per night due to the project’s scheduling demands. Many of the lifts only reach some 30 feet in height. The nighttime lifts over train tracks, though, necessitated the 300-foot boom of the Manitowoc 888.

The loads are lifted from the site’s adjacent canal, brought over the temporarily dormant Amtrak tracks and placed on the job by the Manitowoc 888. At that point, the Grove 5165-2 is able to bat cleanup and assist in maneuvering the bulb-tee girders during daylight hours.

“From the beginning, this project at 150 N. Riverside has been about meticulous planning and a crane setup that would allow us to navigate the numerous logistical constraints we were facing,” Martello said. “A custom barge, a Manitowoc 888 Ringer and a lift schedule that favored the City of Chicago turned out to be the ticket.”