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Willow Springs, IL – Walsh Construction has reached a new phase in the construction of the southbound portion of the I-294 Mile Long Bridge project for the Illinois Tollway. As crews begin to install massive bridge beams, they will employ an innovative gantry system to move and place beams in a tight space between two existing bridges and over the Sanitary and Ship Canal.
The gantry system runs on rails placed on the northbound and southbound bridge structures with three gantries to move and place the beams. The massive gantries are 28-feet-tall and 145-feet-wide, each with moveable crane and hoist that can lift and move up to 30 tons. Of the 165 steel beams that will be delivered to the project, 110 will be placed and installed using the gantries. A crane operator for each gantry can move the hoist to pick the beams from an accessible central laydown area and fly the beams to their final position for crews to install them.
Using gantries instead of traditional cranes allows beams to be installed in areas that are difficult to access from below and would require barges, large cranes, and heavy lift equipment. The system allows 150,000 vehicles to flow on either side of the gantries with no impact to traffic as well as reduced impacts to industrial river traffic on the Sanitary and Ship Canal.
Construction on the Mile Long Bridge is expected to continue into 2023 and is part of the $4B Central Tri-State Tollway (I-294) project for the Illinois Tollway, which will widen several large sections along a 33 mile span of I-294 through the western suburbs of Chicago. The Mile Long Bridge portion of the project is a complete roadway and bridge reconstruction.
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