A quick start can set the tone for an entire construction project. With the Little Manatee swing bridge automation and reliability improvements project in Ruskin, Florida, PCL’s team got out of the blocks fast and didn’t look back.

The client, CSX Transportation, wanted to upgrade their bridge’s electrical and control systems and rehabilitate its mechanical systems to allow for remote operation. Some of that work would require bridge closures, which CSX wanted to keep to a minimum. Drawing on their wide array of experience and expertise, our team members got to work quickly, drawing up detailed work plans that identified and mitigated risks. They also planned bridge closures months in advance, giving stakeholders plenty of time to provide input and make alternate arrangements. And they coordinated with regulatory agencies early on to secure the necessary permits — including those for subaqueous electrical transmission cable conduits, which were critical to the project — without impacting the project schedule.

During construction, trains and boats still had to move through the area, so the bridge had to be operational throughout. But some of the rehabilitation required the bridge to be closed, most notably the removal and replacement of machinery components.

PCL and our partners worked closely with the United States Coast Guard, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, local fire and police departments, local businesses and marinas to coordinate closures months in advance. We also used temporary operating systems and accelerated bridge construction techniques to keep the bridge open for both rail and marine traffic as much as possible throughout all phases of construction.

With the upgrades to the bridge’s mechanical, electrical and controls systems, the bridge can now be opened and closed from a remote bridge tender location. This increases bridge efficiency and makes better use of workforce resources. The automated opening and closing processes use programmable logic control systems that enhance the bridge’s overall safety, reliability and performance.

The project also involved the installation of access platforms and the construction of two bridge end protection structures. Each protection structure consists of four composite piles that are 50 feet long and three feet in diameter. These piles are attached to a triangular frame of steel sleeves 42 inches in diameter that is connected to structural steel beams.

Now that remote operation capabilities have been installed with minimal disruptions to bridge traffic, it’s safe to say that CSX Transportation is happy with how the Little Manatee project turned out. “PCL maintained a very positive working relationship with everyone involved, including subcontractors, regulators, the client and the public,” said Chris Harmon, acting project manager for CSX. “PCL’s project team, including senior management, provided an excellent level of customer satisfaction and was constantly available to address any questions or concerns as they arose.”

“Throughout construction, PCL met critical objectives of controlling project price and maintaining project schedule, all the while delivering the project with zero quality deficiencies. PCL truly showed their commitment to us with their dedication of delivering a successful project to us. We look forward to working again with PCL.”

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