North Baltimore company built joints for massive structure PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 10:05
The San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge is seen during reconstruction. (Photos provided)
Bridges are made to connect areas separated from each other. The recently completed reconstruction of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge in California not only connects the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, it connected North Baltimore workers with the world's widest bridge.
Workers at D.S. Brown in the southern Wood County village made significant contributions to the Bay Bridge, as it's called by locals. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the bridge as the record holder.
The company boasts it made "joint solutions" to the bridge as it created and installed 14 swivel expansion joint assemblies.
Company officials indicate easily more than 10,000 man hours were used by the company to make the crucial parts.
The east span of the bridge reopened Sept. 2 after years of reconstruction. A section of the bridge's upper deck collapsed onto the lower deck in 1989 due to an earthquake. The reported cost for the new replacement structure is $6.4 billion - yes billion with a "b."
According to Mark Kacinski, the vice president of engineering, not only did the company create and ship the large parts for the bridge, company officials were required to be on hand during the installation of the massive Maurer System swivel expansion joint assemblies.
He noted the "specialty bearings" used in the system accommodates multi-directional movement. These joints are vital to the bridge withstanding future earthquakes.
"The biggest joint weighed in at least 120,000 pounds," Kacinski said.
The joint lengths ranged from 80 to 90 feet in size. Another company official said the maximum weight was 75 tons, or 150,000 pounds.
As one might expect, you just don't drop off these parts at the post office or call a "brown truck" to come and pick them up.
An expansion joint being constructed in the North Baltimore D.S. Brown plant.
According to Stephen Toy, general manager of the expansion joints, each joint was shipped in one piece via semi truck. Because of the size and weight, most of the joints had to have special permits for being overweight, over width, and over length.
Toy also noted that specialized equipment was used. The parts were shipped along specific routes with escorts being used for the trucks.
He indicated in addition to the steel used for the joints, there were other specialized materials used for the sliding elements as well as neoprene gland to seal the roadway surface of the joint.
D.S. Brown engineers and other employees have manufactured these joints for bridges across the globe.
The Bay Bridge features various sections and Kacinski said most of the joints fabricated were used on the "Skyway" section the largest section, which is the suspension span. Their joints were used on three of the four spans of the bridge.
Not all of the joints were fabricated in North Baltimore; D.S. Brown also fabricated some of the joints in its Minnesota plant.
The rebuilding of the bridge was completed 75 years after the original structure was built.
Because of the bridge's location in a highly active seismic zone between the San Andreas and Hayward faults, material from the company notes that the "expansion joints capable of accommodating large, high velocity structural movements were required."
The technology used by the company to fabricate these joints allows greater movement in the bridge - up to 65 inches. That range of movement is far beyond the capacity of conventional large movement expansion joints.
The Maurer System joints were provided through an exclusive license agreement with a company in Munich, Germany.
The construction of the final section of the replacement bridge was begun in 2002.
"This project took forever," Kacinski said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 October 2013 15:02

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