Historic Checkered House Bridge rehab wins ACEC award

Tallahassee, Fla. — Finley Engineering Group, CHA, and Harrison and Burrowes Bridge Constructors received the 2014 American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) award for its complex bridge design and construction engineering work on the Checkered House Bridge Design-Build project located in Richmond, Vt.

Built in 1929, the Checkered House Bridge is a 350-foot-long steel truss bridge placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. This project is only the second design-build project undertaken by the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) since design-build project delivery was authorized by the Vermont legislature. This was the first time that a steel truss bridge this size was widened.

This rehabilitation and widening project had to satisfy Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1996 and Section 4(f) of the U.S. Department of Transportation requirements. Approximately 12 feet, 6 inches were added to its width, making it a total of 36 feet wide from truss to truss. This project included two 11 foot travel lanes and two 3.5 foot shoulders, increasing the travel surface from 20 feet to 29 feet. Other challenges included ice flows, wind loading, maintaining aesthetics and sensitive environmental issues.

The Design-Build team of Harrison & Burrows and CHA brought in FINLEY, a specialty complex bridge design and construction engineering firm, early in the bid process to do the following: Conceptual Design, Falsework Design, Launching System Design, Construction Manual, Falsework/Launching System Inspection and On-site Launching Technical Assistance.

FINLEY’s innovations included the design of a unique jack and roller side-launching system which saved 80 percent of the original truss; design of falsework and jacking system allowing the north truss to be moved with lateral support being provided from the south truss and a hydraulic launching system with dual action cylinders for the launch. The rehabilitation project makes the bridge safer and provides historic value for the traveling public for the next 75 years.

Carolyn Carlson, P.E., VTrans Structures Project Manager had been involved with this historic project for 22 years. She comments, "This was the first time that I had worked with FINLEY and I was very impressed with the innovative thinking that went into the bridge widening. During the widening, FINLEY was onsite providing technical support which proved to be critical in keeping the launch on schedule. FINLEY's expertise in both design and construction engineering was invaluable for this "first of its kind" project."


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