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The pedestrian truss bridge over Pleasantville toll plaza, near Atlantic City, N.J., enables toll workers to safely cross over 13 lanes of traffic. Photo: Big R Manufacturing LLC

The Pleasantville toll plaza near Atlantic City, N.J., spans 13 lanes of traffic, including four high-speed Express EZ-Pass lanes. With the toll plaza administration and parking area on one side of the expressway, it was unsafe for toll workers to cross without traffic-disrupting lane closures.

The South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) turned to The Maquire Group Inc., Foxboro, Mass., for design of a large steel truss over the expressway as part of a larger safety project. SJTA awarded the contract Blackwood, N.J.-based A.P. Construction Inc. to build it. In turn, A.P. engaged Big R Manufacturing LLC, Greeley, Colo., to design and fabricate the truss. Big R had extensive experience with pedestrian trusses, but the Pleasantville truss would be the largest clear-span bridge they had ever fabricated.

The project specification required a clear span of 238 feet from bearing to bearing, supported by concrete towers on each end. The towers include stairways, elevators, and rooms for mechanical equipment and storage. The truss is fully enclosed with insulated aluminum and glass panels. Conduits housing electrical and communication systems are located below a concrete deck, poured after the truss was erected. The project also includes a complete HVAC system, and interior lighting and fire protection for the towers and walkway.

Since the fabricating shop was only 200 feet long and the bridge was 240 feet long, the project involved complex scheduling. As one section of the truss was completed and moved out of the shop, another section was started on the shop's far end. Crews fabricated the bowstring truss in eight sections; delivery required seven trucks. Assembled, the structure was more than 14 1/2 feet wide, with a depth of nearly 18 feet.

Moving the bridge sections from Colorado to New Jersey created logistical problems for Big R transportation manager Dave Harman. He assembled a fleet of company trucks and contract carriers using drop-deck trailers. The width of the sections mandated the use of pilot cars from Iowa to New Jersey. The team delivered the bridge to a painting facility in New Jersey, where it was painted to stringent SJTA specifications, then to the jobsite near Atlantic City.

When it came time for the bridge to be assembled in a closed traffic lane near the plaza, Big R sent production manager Duane Ameling and shop superintendent Herb Merkt to advise A.P. Construction's erection subcontractor Cornell Construction of Woodbury, N.J. The truss was assembled near the toll plaza with each end positioned on a trailer. Since the expressway carries a high traffic volume to Atlantic City, traffic disruption had to be minimized. SJTA worked closely with the State Police, New Jersey DOT, and local police departments. Planning the shutdown required public notices, detour routes, and a backup date in case of inclement weather.

At 8 p.m. on April 12, 2005, crews closed the highway while others positioned a 550-ton crane in the middle of the expressway to lift the 240-foot bridge, which weighed 150 tons. The trailers that supported the bridge were maneuvered close to the crane, and the $700,000 bridge was in place before midnight. SJTA chief engineer Sam Donelson said, “Installation went very smoothly and the highway was reopened several hours earlier than scheduled.”

At press time, the bridge phase of the project is essentially complete. Under a future contract, new tollbooths will be installed. The bridge, with neon lights illuminating its arch shape, serves as an impressive gateway to Pleasantville and Atlantic City.

David R. Wilke is vice president of sales for Big R Manufacturing LLC.