STORY AND PHOTO BY JANIE ROSMAN
After a ceremonious welcome last month that prompted a visit from Governor Cuomo, the I Lift NY super crane might appear to be “hanging out” in the Hudson River.
Its limbo maneuver under the bridge — extra low tide that evening added an extra foot or two of clearance — two days after its arrival was nothing compared to what the crane with super strength and no navigational power of its own can do.
After its six-plus-week trek from Oakland, CA, and recent docking at Jersey City, it arrived ready to set sections of pre-fabricated steel desk, 350 feet long each, from about 100 miles north at Port of Coeymans before New Year’s Eve.
Currently perched on a 384-foot barge, the lifter is anchored by spuds (like parking brakes) plunged 60 to 70 feet into mud (depending upon floor elevation). With neither a steering system nor self-propulsion, it will be moved and positioned by tugboats, and maneuvered by anchors running out 600 feet from the sides, once the spuds are pulled up.
“It’s in the process of being prepared for use,” which will be near mid-December, according to Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC) construction manager and New City resident Ro DiNardo. “That will be the first time we use the Left Coast Lifter.”
Dubbed the I Lift NY months earlier, the crane is owned by TZC and is officially named the Left Coast Lifter. What’s in a name, anyway?
Running on Windows 7, and with new computer software, hardware, and a flat panel touch screen, the crane is currently being readied to lift four oversized pile caps (too heavy for conventional cranes to set) in mid-December.
Prepping involves getting the frame together (versabar) that will make the placement. “It will take a little time, anchor tests will be scheduled during the next two weeks,” things unseen that are necessary to get the crane to work, DiNardo said.
The new bridge will be supported by 86 columns, most of them for the main span approaches in Westchester and Rockland. Construction crews are working on the main span, where one concrete batch plant is now. The second plant, onsite, is not in use yet.
“We started pouring concrete into the footings today near the Westchester side, focusing on Pier 39 columns,” DiNardo said. By the end of next week, you’ll see those columns in the air. On the Rockland side, crews are installing precast concrete tubs (pile caps) that are first filled with rebar, then with concrete, and then brought up to grade.
DiNardo smiled when asked about doing things today versus in days of yore.
“Technology, the way they did things (with the) first bridge, and the way we’re doing things now, is enhanced,” he said. “I have great appreciation for how they built the Tappan Zee Bridge, and am thankful we have this crane to build the new bridge with better quality and more efficiently.”
When you see the crane moving, look for Ron Burgess, who operated cranes as a teenager on the New Rochelle waterfront, in the driver’s seat with partner and operator Doug Cormey, in addition to others.
The aforementioned anchors are controlled from the cab (where the driver sits).
“When they go to set the first beam (of the new bridge), the versabar (system) is capable of picking up 1700 metric tons, which is 1928 US tons,” Burgess said.
Its lifting power — from three diesel-powered main generators and one auxiliary generator that are incorporated into the barge — will enable it to hoist pre-assembled connected steel girders onto the foundation piers.
Standing at RiverWalk Park in Tarrytown or in Nyack’s Memorial Park, it’s difficult to ascertain how large the I Lift NY crane is without a marker or reference.
Once on the river, though, you’ve no doubt.