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In Their Own Words: Kiewit Pacific's Charlie Charpentier on 40-ton Panels, "Mini" (110-foot) Catamaran Barges and Towering Accomplishments

This is the fourth in an occasional series of guest articles written by people engaged in the construction of the new East Span. This installment was written by Charlie Charpentier, a Superintendent with Kiewit Pacific Co., part of the KFM joint venture building the Skyway portion of the bridge.

I have always been interested in the construction of bridges and skyscrapers since a young age, which is what lead me to receive a degree in Civil Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

I began work on the Skyway project in April 2002, with the planning for the lightweight precast panel operation. In March I returned to the Oakland site and will be part of the superstructure segment erection group.

The precast group moved to the Stockton precast facility in July of 2002. The precast yard is a 55-acre facility that started as a flat barren site and has evolved in eight months into one of the largest precast operations in the world. The site has water access, which was one of the major factors in selecting a site, since the completed segments will be floated by barge to the Oakland site.

There are 878 precast panels being cast for the roadway segments. There are two panels for each segment.

Each panel has an average of 22 cubic yards of concrete, with the total being 19,300 cubic yards. This is enough concrete to pave 3.5 miles of a three-lane highway.

The average weight of the panels is 40 tons. That's roughly the weight of 15 pick-up trucks. The panel is roughly 26 feet wide by 32 feet long with two beams running down the middle, which is enough room to park three pick-ups.

Once the panel is cast, it will be cured and stored before it is moved to one of the four rebar jigs, then into the segment forms where it becomes part of the completed segment.

The total concrete for each of the segments is 300 cubic yards. The casting of the panels and segments will continue for three years.

My involvement with the precast panels started the day I arrived at the Skyway yard in Stockton. I was responsible for the planning of all items related to the precast panel casting operation. Among those included working with the form supplier (Helser Ind.) and designing lifting beams, as well as a panel tow trailer to lift and move the panels around the yard. This was accomplished with the help of Kiewit Engineering in Omaha.

Most of my time was spent planning on how to do the work efficiently, within budget and safely. That included assembling forms and tow trailers, pouring and finishing concrete, placing rebar cages and handling the panels.

The planning and coordination efforts were a long process, but with the help of many KFM and Caltrans employees the ultimate goal of building a quality product was achieved. The first panel was poured after 10 months of planning, on February 19, 2003.

My new role in the Skyway project is with the segment erect group in Oakland. The planning for this started back in February 2002, and the erection of segments will not begin until January of 2004. Many activities occur prior to the erection of the segments, such as: Piledriving, pier, and pier table construction. Some of these activities you may have seen in previous articles on this website.

I am currently working on the planning for the temporary towers that will support the eastern and western most ends of the bridge until the next phase of the bridge is connected.

The work for the temporary towers will begin shortly. Around May KFM will begin driving test pile and production pile for the footings. Following that phase of construction, we will begin forming and pouring the footings.

There are 20,000 lineal feet of 24-inch diameter piling that will be driven for these six tower footings. The total amount of concrete for the tower footings is 2,200 cubic yards.

The six support towers, ranging in height from 30 feet on the east end to 100 feet on the west, are made of structural steel, which will be fabricated off-site. The towers will be assembled on-site and then floated into place on top of the footings via a mini-catamaran barge. This piece of equipment consists of two 30-foot by 110-foot barges with large steel beams keeping them 40 feet apart.

This will allow the two barges to straddle the temporary tower footing and set the structural steel tower into position. KFM will remove two of the six towers prior to the completion of the Skyway portion of the bridge. Separate contracts will remove the final four towers, two at the east end and two at the west end of the Skyway section of the bridge. This will occur after the Suspension and Touchdown portions of the bridge are completely connected to the Skyway section.

By now you are probably as overwhelmed as I am with all the different aspects of the Skyway construction. So I will leave the explanation of the segment erection for another time and different KFM team member.

In closing, I feel very lucky to be selected to work on such a landmark project. Most people go their whole career without the chance to work on a project of this magnitude. All the people involved with this project are going to look back on their career and put this one at the top. Good luck to everyone working and watching the construction of the new Bay Bridge.

April, 2003

In Their Own Words / Archives

KFM engineer Mark Ronayne writes about working on the early stages of the Skyway project. November, 2002.

KFM's Brawn Lausen on the Skyway section's Italian connection. December, 2002.

General Construction Company Engineer Veronica Moczygemba talks about the foundation work. January, 2003.

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