Pile Driving & Storm Defying

Pile Driving & Storm Defying 

Editor: Debbie Reaney 

Spanning over the Raritan River in Newark NJ is the sole bridge that has carried trains of the New Jersey Coast Line from South Amboy to Perth Amboy for the past 115 years and encompasses greater Newark, Hoboken, Jersey City and New York City. During the destructive Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the low-profile structure became submerged and took a hit from a runaway tugboat and was shifted 18 inches on its piles, prompting over $3 million worth of emergency repairs. The bridge was returned to normal use after the fact, except strict speed limits for the trains were put in place, which has pushed back arrival times for job commuters traveling to big business centers in Newark, Jersey City, and Manhattan. The NJCL (North Jersey Coast Line), which connects with the NEC (Northeast Corridor Line) south of Penn Station Newark, provides service to approximately 11,400 daily riders averaging approximately 23,000 weekday passenger trips, making this replacement project a high priority for all.  

Quietly proceeding, on schedule, the Raritan River Bridge is being replaced with a higher-elevated, doubled-width railroad bridge featuring resilient structural designs and materials that can withstand strong storm surges and other severe weather events. Its innovative and updated design will also improve marine traffic that passes beneath the bridge. For the first phase of this project (GC.01), New Jersey Transit (NJT) awarded a $248 million contract to George Harms Construction Co. of Farmingdale, N.J. The work being done includes landslide and bridge approaches along with substructure foundation and is expected to be completed in October 2024. Phase 2, GC.02 (currently in procurement), will include construction of the vertical lift bridge (lift/flanking span superstructure), and communications, signal, and overhead catenary work. Phase 3, GC.03, includes demolition of the existing bridge. When George Harms first won the contract, they wisely purchased both an ICE® 200C and an ICE® 33B Vibratory Hammer from International Construction Equipment, Inc to prepare for the substructure work. Using the ICE® 200C, they are driving 102" (in) diameter caissons with lengths up to 140' (ft), and the ICE® 33B for smaller pipe pile application. The contractors also utilized their own ICE® 7E Excavator-Mounted Hydraulic Vibratory Driver/Extractor paired with a Gooseneck extension to drive sheet piles easily. The gear case design of the ICE® 7E allows for maximum vibrating speed and mobility, while the optional Gooseneck add-on extends the boom on the excavator and enables the crew to drive longer piles with a greater reach.  

Since breaking ground in mid 2020, George Harms has made many accomplishments on the substructure, including completion of eighty-four 8' (ft) diameter drilled shafts up to 225' (ft) deep. Each shaft has a casing length of between 60 and 145 feet. The contractor is also working on two support piers, each containing over 3,500 cubic yards (about the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool) of concrete, as well as all approach span superstructure work, consisting of 24 spans of six steel girders per span. Ten of 26 pier caps have been finished. These consist of 18 bent piers (2 drilled shafts), 4 quad piers (4 drilled shafts), 2 flanking spans (6 drilled shafts), and 2 lift spans (10 drilled shafts). In total, there are 17,010 CY of concrete and 2.5 million pounds (1,300 tons) of rebar in the pier caps. NJT notes that "there's enough concrete in the drilled shafts to build a sidewalk from South Amboy to Cape May, N.J." That's 127 miles! Temporary trestles from each riverbank are helping them access the sub- and superstructure work. Upon completion, the Raritan River Bridge Replacement project is expected to generate $1 billion (about $3 per person in the US) in economic impact for New Jersey and support 5,740 jobs and $352.5 million in earnings. Magnificent work, George Harms Construction, for converting this critical but failing rail link for New Jersey Coast Line customers into a robust and sustainable transportation option for decades to come. 

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Pollyanna Cunningham, MA, MBA    
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Posted in Excavator Mounted Pile Drivers, Vibratory Pile Hammers. Tagged as 33 Vibratory Pile Driver/Extractor, 7E Excavator Mounted Vibratory, Elevated Highways, ICE 200C Vibratory Hammer, ICEUSA.

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