Replacing the Historic Black Hawk Bridge

Replacing the Historic Black Hawk Bridge
$140M Mississippi River bridge reconstruction project will change landscape of Lansing  
Edited by: Debbie Reaney

A new bridge is being developed to replace the cantilever bridge called the Black Hawk Bridge, named after Chief Black Hawk in Lansing, IA., one of the most unique historic bridges in the country. The key detail is the fact that the suspended span of the bridge is only connected at the bottom with no connection (visual or structural) to the top chord of the suspended span, making it quite unique and giving it a distinctive appearance. This historic structure has served the area since 1931, with a brief closure from 1945 to 1957 when the crossing was damaged by ice jams. Depreciation over time and changing vehicle size and traffic patterns now call for a new, wider and safer crossing, according to the Iowa (Iowa DOT) and Wisconsin Departments of Transportation (WisDOT).  

Federal funding will cover approximately 80 percent of the new bridge's $140 million cost and the states of Iowa and Wisconsin will evenly split the remaining costs. The new bridge has been designed to mimic the look of the existing bridge while increasing safety and drivability After the construction crews settle in, you should see the new bridge gradually rise out of the water as each piece is finished from deep below the muddy Mississippi riverbed to the tall peaks of the new steel truss. 

Kraemer North America, LLC, a full-service heavy civil contractor headquartered in Plain, WI was awarded the bid for this task. With a reputation for safety, quality, and excellence as a technical builder in transportation, rail, and marine markets Kraemer was the perfect choice for this project. On Nov. 2, 2023, crews began work on the new bridge, with a concrete roadbed next to the current one, which will eventually be demolished. The Iowa DOT says safety and traffic corrections top the list of justifications for the bridge rebuild. Today's Black Hawk Bridge only has 21' (Ft) of space across both lanes with no shoulders, as well as difficult exits and low structural ratings that limit commercial freight crossings, making this project extremely important to the safety and growth of the area. 

Every bridge starts with a strong foundation and to accomplish this, Kraemer North America is using a rented ICE® 110 Vibratory Driver/Extractor with 15' (Ft) beam to drive 9 ½' (Ft) & 10 ½' (Ft) caissons to varying depths of 80-120' (Ft). In late February they will start driving 13 ½' (Ft) caissons some up to 150' (Ft)! Due to the variable soils in the area, the professionals at Kraemer are also implementing an ICE® 200 Vibratory Hammer to further drive to tip. The new steel through-truss bridge will be 180 '(Ft) tall by 1,352' (Ft) (about half the height of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world) long, compared to the current bridge that is 165' (Ft) tall and 1,152' (Ft) (about the height of the Empire State Building) long. Making this new bridge 15' (Ft) taller at its highest point than its predecessor. The foundations of the new bridge will also be driven nearly three times deeper than the existing structure. 

Congratulations on an amazing job so far, Kraemer North America! Even with the many challenges brought on by weather, water flow and soil variations, the experts at Kraemer have not been daunted and the project has continued to move forward; on time and on budget. Bravo to the entire Kraemer team for their hard work and dedication to building a structure that is sure to provide safe, reliable travel, as well as economic growth in the Lansing area for the next 100 years. 


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Posted in Vibratory Pile Hammers. Tagged as #BridgeRenovation, Elevated Highways, ICE 110C Vibratory Pile Driver, ICE 200C Vibratory Hammer, Infrastructure.

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