Engineering News-Record Features Sessler Wrecking

By Engineering News-Record,

As the number and complexity of infrastructure projects continuesCastleton Picture #1 to rise across the country, so does the need for specialty contractors to meet ever more multi-faceted demands. That was certainly the case with the Castleton-on-Hudson Bridge Rehabilitation Project. The Castleton-on-Hudson Bridge connects New York’s Albany County Rensselaer County over the Hudson River. Opened for traffic in 1958, the cantilever truss bridge carries over six million vehicles a year as part of the New York State Thruway (I-90) Berkshire Spur. Over the years, this bridge has undergone multiple rounds of restoration, though primarily on the eastbound side.

As the demolition contractor for the project, Sessler Wrecking was tasked to remove the westbound travel lanes—5,369-ft of the 40-ft wide concrete deck along with the center divider—in preparation for reconstruction. A tight timeline and mixed materials coupled with a high risk truss structure made this effort particularly daunting. With expectations high, it was a challenge that the Sessler Wrecking team didn’t just meet, but found ways to exceed.

 A Torch Cut Away

The demolition of the westbound travel lanes required the removal of 217,250 sq ft (equivalent to around four and a half football fields) of deck slab. This deck incorporated a range of materials including reinforced concrete, exodermic layers and even some stringer and floor beam components within the open grid deck zones, all of which had to be extracted.

In developing the demolition plan, special attention was given to the truss superstructure. Per the engineering team, the concrete and steel deck systems needed to be unloaded starting from the middle to maintain bridge integrity. Mike Karsten, director of Bridge Demolition at Sessler Wrecking, explains, “Starting in the middle of the bridge, we worked two crews, each moving in opposite directions. Our operators and laborers worked as one coordinated unit, under the direction of our expert foremen and superintendents on the job.” Crews torch cut a considerable amount of steel grating from the superstructure to release the concrete deck. “It was critical that we perform all of this work without damaging the bridge flanges and superstructure. Precision torch cutting and in-house design attachments on excavators made this project possible,” continued Karsten.

As part of its plan to meet the tight schedule, the Sessler Wrecking team calculated a minimum quantity of bridge deck materials that needed to be removed to fulfill the demanding timetable established for this project. Total equipment for the job included eight excavators, five hoe rams, one loader and one haul truck along with numerous other smaller pieces of equipment. The crew, which averaged 16 during the center span work, removed 1,248 tons of steel and over 6,000 cu yds of concrete over the course of the job.

Todd Worden, general superintendent of Bridge Demolition at Sessler Wrecking, says, “In executing this critical job, we left no room for compromise. The success of this job, involving precision burners and top tier operators, underscores our commitment to quality at Sessler Wrecking. It’s truly an honor to work with the field team in the business, ensuring excellence every step of the way.”

Surpassing Expectations

Sessler Wrecking successfully completed the project well within the designated schedule. “We completed that work faster than the allotted time,” Karsten added. “That efficiency allowed the general contractor to start the replacement work much earlier.” The new bridge deck was subsequently rebuilt, and opened in late summer 2023.

Achieving and surpassing these standards exemplifies why Sessler Wrecking stands as a pioneering figure in the realm of bridge demolition. Karsten concluded, “Our best in class field personnel executed the work on this bridge flawlessly, and without any safety incidents despite the high traffic volumes on the eastbound side of the highway and the extreme heights over the Hudson River below. That attitude and emphasis on safety is what brings clients to Sessler over and over again.”

Castleton Picture #12

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