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Lift Equipment plays key role in Replacing the Champlain Bridge

One of North America’s largest infrastructure projects

MLC650 crawler crane at work on the new Champlain Bridge, with the old bridge in the background.
MLC650 crawler crane at work on the new Champlain Bridge, with the old bridge in the background.

The replacement of the Champlain Bridge, which spans the St. Lawrence River in Montreal, Quebec, is currently one of the largest projects to expand infrastructure in North America. It is also one of North America’s busiest roadways with more than 50 million cars, buses and trucks crossing its 3,400-metre (11,155-foot) span each year.

The engineering consortium, Signature on the Saint Lawrence Group (SSL), is handling design, construction, financing, operations, maintenance and rehabilitation of the New Champlain Bridge Corridor Project. The initiative is being conducted under a public-private partnership agreement with the government of Canada. The 42-month project began in June of 2015 and is scheduled for completion in December of 2018. 

Crane capacity and reduced ground preparation keeping work on schedule
Two Manitowoc MLC650s are working on the project. Andre Mylocopos, approaches manager, SSL, said they chose the 716 USt MLC650 because of the Variable Position Counterweight’s (VPC) ability to enable high-capacity lifts with minimal adjustments. The crane only needs to be setup once and its counterweight is adjusted automatically based on each lift. The optional VPC-MAX attachment raises the crane’s capacity to 770 USt using fewer components and assembly steps than traditional attachments.

“The MLC650 has better chart than other cranes in its class for the work envelope defined on this project,” he said. “We are able to perform most lifts at less than 90 percent capacity, so this gives us a comfortable safety margin. The VPC-MAX is instrumental in giving us that headroom without having to drag a wagon behind the crane. We actually eliminated a number of cranes from consideration because they couldn’t meet our needs without a wagon, which is a major constraint due to the limited work area. The MLC650s were ready to go upon erection.”

The cranes are currently tasked with lifting 220 USt steel girders for the bridge’s east approach. The dual MLC650s will then be used to lift 88 USt precast concrete segments to construct the cable-stay bridge pylon, followed by a tandem lift to erect the 440 USt lower cross beam. After the completion of the cross beam, the MLC650s will be used to construct temporary support towers, and to erect 220 USt pier caps and additional girders.

Intuitive control system 
The MLC650 features the Crane Control System (CCS) which maintains a standardized operating platform across all of Manitowoc’s newer crane models. Yan Duguay, a crane operator for SSL, said that the company’s operators found the MLC650 easy to use thanks to the intuitive controls made possible by CCS.

“Our operators are enjoying the MLC650’s controls,” he explained. “Compared to other cranes I’ve used, the computer system in the MLC650 seems easier to operate. That simplicity is crucial on a job site where time and safety are utmost concerns. Since we are only using Manitowoc cranes for the bridge replacement, the uniformity of easy-to-use controls only makes the job site more productive.”

As with all Manitowoc cranes, the MLC650 also performs well in low temperatures, making it particularly well-suited for tough jobs in Canada.

“In Canada, we need cranes that can stand up to the elements. Manitowoc cranes perform well in extremely challenging weather conditions, which makes them ideal for the Canadian climate,” Mylocopos explained. “When you combine those factors with intuitive controls, you can see how Manitowoc cranes are helping SSL maintain uniformity and productivity on the job site. We’re on track to complete the bridge by December of 2018 and we’re counting on the MLC650 and the rest of our Manitowoc fleet to be a big part of that success.”

The MLC650s are not the only Manitowoc cranes aiding SSL in its bridge building efforts. The construction team’s fleet also includes a 300 USt Manitowoc 2250, four 440 USt Manitowoc 16000s, two 1,433 USt ringer-enabled Manitowoc M250s, seven 150 USt Grove RT9150Es and two 130 USt Grove RT9130E-2s. The M250s, each equipped with a M-1200 ringer attachment, will be installed on 30,000 sq ft barges to lift pier caps and girders on the water. The Grove cranes will perform smaller tasks such as general loading and unloading, support, access, and erecting smaller structures and components.

SSL procured the MLC650s from Mississauga, Ontario-based Strongco, the sole distributor of Manitowoc cranes in the region. 

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