Olsson Associates

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Overnight bridge installation connects Olsson’s specialties

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sarah Ferdico, Communications

The old Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) truss bridge near Tecumseh, Nebraska, is being lifted and removed in order to slide the new Olsson-designed, through plate girder bridge (in back) in place.In the fading afternoon glow, the hulking mass of steel was steadily being nestled into its concrete confines. The old bridge was getting an upgrade. Gone was the 288,000-pound antiquity. In its place was an 826,000-pound, 157-foot, through plate girder bridge.

Working across teams and across regions, the Omaha and Kansas City Southland Railroad Structural teams and Sarpy Geotechnical team were onsite in Tecumseh, Nebraska, on October 22 for the truss bridge’s installation.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway awarded the project in June 2013, and Olsson let the design plans last October.

Construction crews lifted and removed the existing 130-foot truss span, which was built in 1900. Crews then installed the fully erected new bridge in a 17-hour window. The new bridge, which weighs almost three times more than the old bridge, was slid into place by hydraulic jacks.

The size of the new bridge presented a design challenge for this project. It is at the upper limit for through plate girder design and is one of the largest on the BNSF rail system. In fact, only one steel mill in the United States could produce the size of steel plates needed for the girders. Because of its size, transporting the girders from Lincoln required special semi-trucks with 11 axles to ship each of the main girders in three different pieces.

Several Olsson teams were involved in all stages of this project. Teams included Geotechnical, Environmental, Water Resources, Structural, Construction Services, and Field Services. The Railroad Structural team has two other similar projects currently in the design phase.

To see a time-lapse video of the installation, please click here.

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