One of the largest floating cranes in the world, the Left Coast Lifter, now dubbed the “I Lift NY”, has been making an epic sea-passage from California to New York. Once there, it will be used to construct a super-size new bridge that will replace the deteriorating Tappan Zee Bridge that currently crosses the mighty Hudson River.
Pulled by tugboats, the super-crane left the Port of Oakland on 22 December 2013, and has just passed through the Panama Canal to continue its sea voyage up the east coast of the USA to New York. It is expected to complete its 6,000-mile journey as early as the end of January 2014.
Formerly used to build the San-Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, the “I Lift NY” has a boom length of 328 ft and a 1,900-ton lift capacity. This is said by New York State’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo to be the equivalent of 12 Statues of Liberty in weight at once. He claims this Herculean lifting capacity will shorten construction time on the new bridge by months and save millions of dollars.
Once “I Lift NY” arrives on site, it will be used to lift prefabricated sections of the new bridge weighing between 900 and 1,100 tons into place. It will also be used to demolish the old bridge.
After frustrating delays and indecision about whether to build a new bridge or repair the existing 1955-built one, in 2011 the Tappan Zee Constructors consortium finally secured the $3.9bn design-build contract for the new cable-stay bridge.
The eight-lane bridge, designed over two parallel spans, will span the 3.1-mile stretch of river between Westchester County and Rockland County. According to the New York Times, 1,000 steel piles of up to 6ft in diameter and 300ft long will support the new bridge.
The article explains: “To make sure the piles can hold the weight of the daily traffic – 138,000 cars – workers delicately set a barge on top of the piles, fill it with water until it weighs 7mn pounds, adjust that force with hydraulic jacks, then test the piles for several days to see if any shifting takes place.”
By the time the bridge is finished in 2018, 400 engineers will have contributed to it, and construction workers will have put in 6mn hours of labour. It is designed to last for at least 100 years.