Sunbelt Rentals Ramps Up Support for Alexander Hamilton Bridge

Constructed in 1964, the Alexander Hamilton Bridge (AHB) carries people and cargo across the Harlem River on the Cross Bronx Expressway (I-95) and Major Deegan Expressway (I-87) and links arteries including the George Washington Bridge to and from New Jersey. AHB runs 1,485 feet, including a 505-foot main span of steel and nine spans that serve Manhattan and the Bronx.

A $407 million project completed in 2014 gave the AHB a much-needed rehabilitation. But that project didn’t address three deficient ramps and associated on-grade roadways. The Three Ramps Replacement Project is addressing that need, prolonging ramp life and reducing bridge maintenance costs. The $139 million project requires four stages of construction on each ramp, one at a time to avoid traffic impact.

In need of a better support system

The previous bridge ramps were installed when the bridge was built. The deteriorating concrete compromised the integrity of each pier, requiring ripping and replacing of all 13 while allowing traffic to continue on the existing ramp. The prime contractor, Posillico Civil, had originally tapped another contractor to provide support towers for the bridge piers during the rehabilitation work. But the competitor’s lightweight solution allowed only 2 feet between the props and existing piers, which wasn’t enough to place the forms to rebuild the piers. Posillico therefore spent an inordinate amount of time trying to secure and customize the steel props to fit each location.

Posillico selected Northeast Structural Steel (NESS) to handle the pier rebuilding. A previous collaboration made the chief engineers at NESS confident that Sunbelt Rentals would erect support towers with the appropriate spacing and adjustability. NESS therefore chose Sunbelt Rentals to construct the towers using our superior support system.

Easily erectable, fully configurable installation

Cory Burgin, senior engineer at Sunbelt Rentals, collaborated with the team up front to engineer a solution in-house and put it in place. Burgin worked on the project for five months, designing the system, helping to produce the proposal, and consulting with other engineering firms on the project to ensure the Sunbelt Rentals solution was superior to anything a competitor could install. 

The solution consisted of MAT125 5x20 towers ranging from 14- to 40-feet tall to fit 13 pier locations. The towers are modular and standardized, with bolt connections that eliminate the need for welding or cutting of structural steel. Sunbelt Rentals uses color-coded connections for bracing, adding to the ease with which they can be erected and configured. The team can build a tower in about two days. 

With a heavier duty solution, Sunbelt Rentals could allow 6 feet of space off each pier, with 2 feet for the forms and 4 feet to work around them, more than satisfying the space needs. Two sets of towers were used at each pier, one each on the northbound and southbound sides, with 1.2 million pounds of force on each tower. The demand for so many towers required Sunbelt Rentals to double inventory of the MATT 125 product line.

A chance to cement the Sunbelt Rentals reputation

The customer was delighted with the in-house engineering design services, the site support from sales and engineers, the availability of equipment, and the just-in-time logistics that ensured the project moved along without delays. Before the project ended in August 2019, rentals amounted to more than $750,000 and cemented our reputation as the go-to rental firm for engineering and equipment to temporarily support buildings and infrastructure.