Updating New York’s Historic RFK Bridge

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In one of the busiest and most demanding transportation markets in the world, Sessler Wrecking has made a name for being a bridge demolition contractor that will meet and exceed challenging deadlines. The Tri-State area, comprised of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, has a maze of highways and transit systems that services more than 25 million people daily. Keeping the necessary aging infrastructure operational is key to keeping the commerce capital of the world safe and moving.

In 2015, El Sol Contracting hired Upstate New York-based Sessler Wrecking for the demolition portion of the Bronx Toll Plaza at the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Bridge on Randall’s Island.

The RFK Bridge, built in 1936 (formerly known at the Triborough Bridge), is a complex bridge system that connects Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx and sees an average daily trac load of nearly 200,000 vehicles.

Sessler was tasked with removing more than 350,000 sq ft of bridge deck and supporting structures on the front steps of Icahn Stadium while keeping trac conicts to a minimum at one of the busiest toll plazas in the world.

During this time, Sessler was also performing demolition services on the Tappan Zee Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Pulaski Skyway and Grand Central Parkway, which are all located in the Tri-State area.

Getting to Work

After securing the contract with El Sol, the in-house engineering team at Sessler poured over thousands of as-built drawings and construction documents dating back to 1929 to design the massive demolition project. Once the design aspect of the project was complete, the company worked diligently securing the necessary approvals of the MTA and Triborough Bridge & Tunnel Authority (TBTA). Sessler was not unfamiliar with the area, as it performed demolition services for Halmar International on the RFK Bridge in 2012.

The overall project was portioned into seven phases and slated to take four years to complete. Utilizing experienced Sessler employees along with laborers from the local Operators, Laborers, Ironworkers and Teamsters unions, the crews saw, cut and removed more than 20,000 tons of concrete. The crews detached 3,700 tons of steel cross beams, stringers and girders through the 15 lanes of trac. More than 320 bridge girders were picked. All of the concrete was recycled within New York City to be reused for future development projects.

The safety of pedestrians and trac on Randall’s Island during the removal of the concrete bridge was paramount. Sessler utilized its patented wing trailers in sensitive areas of lower height to ensure overall safety and optimize the ow of the 200,000 passing vehicles.

Adapting to Change

Three-quarters of the way through the project, El Sol and Sessler were subject to a project-wide change order for the elimination of the toll booth system and conversion to open road tolling. This accelerated the schedule of two of the phases signicantly. Sessler responded to the challenge with double shifts working day and night, completing the overall project a year ahead of schedule. The conversion of the Bronx Toll Plaza to open road tolling helped modernize this New York City roadway and ease congestion for years to come.

Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018, Sessler is a second- and third generation family-owned business providing heavy industrial and bridge demolition services throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. It also oers environmental remediation services with its partner company Sessler Environmental Services (SES) and performs real estate development through Sessler Development.

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