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New Belleair Beach Causeway gets 'cranked' up

Piers stand in succession framing the footprint for the new Belleair Beach Causeway on Wednesday. In all, 21 land piers and 9 water piers will be used in the project.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Piers stand in succession framing the footprint for the new Belleair Beach Causeway on Wednesday. In all, 21 land piers and 9 water piers will be used in the project.

It was 1950 when two spans were built to connect Belleair Beach to the rest of Pinellas County.

One was a 74-foot-high fixed span bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway. The other was a smaller, lower bridge across a narrow relief channel.

Now both are being replaced. And construction on the new Belleair Beach Causeway is proceeding in a very unusual way.

The method is called "incremental launching," which means the main sections of the bridge are constructed off site and then lifted and "cranked" into place using large cranes and a hydraulic system applying 33,000 pounds per square inch of pressure.

The only other U.S. bridge constructed using this method spans the Iowa River and is considered a landmark. It was built in the mid 1990s and, at the time, was the longest free-cantilever bridge in the country.

Earlier this week, workers erected a 175,000-pound beam, the first of seven to be installed. Two cranes were used to place the beam onto the pier from a barge anchored near the bridge.

On the ends of the bridge, workers continued to pour concrete slab sections. Once cured, each slab is pushed incrementally up the bridge and a new one is built in its place.

When finished, the bridge will have 12-foot travel lanes in each direction, 8-foot sidewalks and 10-foot-wide shoulders with designated bicycles lanes. Penny for Pinellas money is financing the $72.2-million bridge.

Completion is expected in October 2009.

By the numbers

2.7-million pounds of reinforcing steel is being used.

21,937 cubic yards of concrete is being used in the construction.

1.5 miles is the total length of the project.

3,350 feet is the length the bridge will span.

324 feet is the length the relief bridge will span.

100 feet of horizontal navigational clearance will be available.

75 feet of vertical clearance will be available.

$72.2M is the total cost of the project.

Oct. 2009 is when completion is expected.

New Belleair Beach Causeway gets 'cranked' up 04/05/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 7, 2008 3:19pm]
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