Barge-mounted Crane Brings Enhanced Stability to IL Bridge Replacement

Kraemer North America replaces 84-year-old truss bridge using a barge-mounted Manitowoc MLC300 crane equipped with VPC-MAX

A Manitowoc MLC300 crawler crane was used to lift arch rib sections into place during replacement of an 84-year-old Illinois truss bridge
A Manitowoc MLC300 crawler crane was used to lift arch rib sections into place during replacement of an 84-year-old Illinois truss bridge

Kraemer North America (Kraemer) is using an MLC300 to help replace an 84-year-old truss bridge, the 2,482-foot-long Savanna-Sabula Bridge near Savanna, Ill. The Illinois DOT hired the Plain, WI-based company to construct the new bridge, which spans the Mississippi River between Savanna and the island community of Sabula, Iowa.

While planning the project — which involves the construction of two 958.5-foot-long outer plate girder spans and a central 546-foot-long tied-arch span — Kraemer realized that a barge-mounted crane solution would be necessary to access the lifts for the tied-arch span.

Variable Position Counterweight (VPC) technology enables the MLC300 to adjust its counterweight during each lift, which helps keep the barge stable while lifting.The company sought consultation from Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental (Dawes), a member of the ALL Family of Companies, about a crane that could be mounted on the tight working quarters of a barge but still provide high-capacity lifts to great heights to aid in bridge construction.

Where before many contractors used Manitowoc RINGER cranes for a barge-mounted solution, due to the round RINGER shape that helped stabilize the crane and distribute the weight of the machine, Milwaukee-based Dawes suggested a newer model crane that could automatically adjust its counterweight to provide greater stability for each lift, all from a smaller footprint than previous-generation cranes: the MLC300.

“With the Variable Position Counterweight (VPC), the MLC300 is always finding a new center of gravity based on the load that’s on the hook,” said Patrick Shea, project manager for Kraemer. “This crane has helped us to achieve almost zero list while working on the barge, keeping every lift level while minimizing the barge’s rotation. And the VPC saves space, too — most crawler cranes with the required length of boom would not have fit on the barge in the first place.”

The MLC300 was erected on a barge in the Mississippi River measuring 70 feet by 195 feet. It’s lifting 76-ton arch rib sections to a height of 165 feet using 295 feet of main boom, all from a 100-foot radius. To meet the lift radius and pick weight requirements on the job, Kraemer’s MLC300 had to be outfitted with its optional VPC-MAX attachment, which enhances the crane’s capacity and enables additional boom and jib length combinations.

Kraemer rented the MLC300 from Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental, a member of the ALL Family of Companies. The Milwaukee-based dealer operates four servicing yards in its home state of Wisconsin, providing service across the Midwestern U.S. to all types of contractors, including general, HVAC, industrial, foundation, roofing, road and bridge builders.

“We’ve had a great experience working with Dawes on this project,” Shea said. “They provided the ideal crane for this work environment. The whole time we’ve been using the MLC300, we’ve seen the barge list by less than a degree — it’s a testament to the stability that this crane provides and it’s a big reason we’re able to keep to our schedule.”

Construction of the $80 million Savanna-Sabula Bridge replacement began in March of 2017 and is on schedule for completion in 2018. The new bridge will span 2,463 feet in length and will meet modern-day deck-width standards to improve the flow of two-lane traffic.