Bolt by bolt Construction on the Newcastle-Vermillion Missouri River bridge keeps moving forward in spite of the unfavorable weather conditions the Jensen Construction crew has been forced to contend with. Construction on the Newcastle-Vermillion Missouri River bridge keeps moving forward in spite of the unfavorable weather conditions the Jensen Construction crew has been forced to contend with.
Construction Superintendent Steve Ulmer, commenting on the early snow in November and December, said they have been slowed up some but these are fairly normal winter working conditions for them and they will catch up as soon as the weather eases. He said ideal winter temperatures are around 25 degrees. The bitter cold at times will slow them down, but warmer temps just over the freezing point also can make working miserable with muddy, sloppy conditions.
The crew completed pouring the drill shaft on pier seven just before the snowstorm struck the area this past weekend. Pier seven is the first pier that is actually out in the river from the South Dakota side when the river is at a normal flow. Even though the river is frozen over they have been able to continue drilling operations from a roadway the men actually built out into the river earlier this year. Ulmer said drilling operations will go on, but the roadway will have to be worked on and extended this week. The completion of drill shaft seven leaves a remainder of three yet to be drilled and poured. This past week also saw the first steel being erected on the project, which finally gives the illusion that this construction project is going to be a bridge. The bridge will have four steel beams across the width of each pier and they will form the base of the highway as it crosses the river. The beams are massive pieces of steel, reportedly weighing about 26 tons each and are eight feet in height. Two of them are bolted together and are then raised and set in place to span 240 feet. The first four are in place. Ulmer indicated early this week they had to clear ice and snow from the next pier and then the work would begin with the next set.
Watching the crew work with these huge pieces of steel is a fascinating experience of observing precision and careful knowledge of their craft. Two cranes, one managing each end of the beam, are positioned so slow back and forth movements of the entire crane and very minute movements of the crane's boom position the beam to almost the exact placement that allow other workers to bolt the members in place. After the beams are positioned and secured on the ends, the workers will go out and bolt the cross member supports in place as in the accompanying photo. Ulmer stated the drill shafts can give them a problem from time to time, but once the steel begins to go up, bridge building becomes more enjoyable.