3 other steel plates for the I-40 bay
Workers at W & W / AFCO Steel in Little Rock completed welding on Tuesday on three more metal plates that were to be loaded onto a flatbed trailer this morning to be hauled on Interstate 40 for use in final repairs of the Hernando de Soto Pont.
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Even as these three pieces – each weighing up to 5,000 pounds – were being finished at the company’s sprawling manufacturing facility on East 22nd Street, two similar pieces from its Van Buren manufacturing plant arrived. at the bridge between Memphis and West Memphis, as another piece began its journey through the company’s retail store on Bond Street.
All of the plates were from a charge originally intended for the new Interstate 30 bridge over the Arkansas River in Little Rock, which is part of the billion dollar 30 Crossing project. W & W / AFCO Steel is also the manufacturer of this project.
The plates were forged at steel plants in Indiana and Ohio.
The process at W & W / AFCO Steel begins in the retail shop where a Messer cutting system is located, which is a computerized CNC router that can automatically cut steel and drill precise holes. It takes about 30 seconds for the machine to punch a hole in the 2¼ inch thick plate.
After the plates are cut and the holes drilled, the junction plates and filler plates are pressed together and their holes aligned at the manufacturing facility.
Tuesday, a coat of primer was already on the plates.
All work at Little Rock was carried out under the supervision of Ronnie Eagle, who manages bridge operations in Arkansas for W & W / AFCO Steel.
“It gives us pride to be a part of something like that – to reopen this bridge,” Eagle said above the din of the manufacturing plant floor.
The bridge has been closed since May 11 when a crack was discovered in a section critical to its stability.
The plates are part of a total of approximately 100 tonnes of fabricated steel that W & W / AFCO is providing for repairs to Phases 2 and 3 of the Mississippi River Crossing that connects Arkansas and Tennessee. It is also a key component of a major freight corridor that has cost the trucking industry millions of dollars in delays and longer trips. Traffic was diverted to the Memphis and Arkansas Bridge, which is 3 miles south on Interstate 55.
The first phase of the repairs was to stabilize the bridge so that workers, inspectors and equipment could safely access it for permanent repairs. The second phase is for permanent repairs and the third phase is for areas of concern discovered during an intensive inspection of the entire bridge. No additional cracks were found.
The plates are called junction plates. Each of the three that work was done on Tuesday was about 14 feet long and 32 inches wide. Each was also fitted with a slightly smaller filler plate, according to the specifications and shop drawings that guided the welders’ work on Tuesday.
Gallery: Steel plates for the I-40 bridge
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Juan Pascual was among the workers who hammered a steel cylinder into some of the holes drilled in each of the plates so that each junction plate and filler plate could be properly aligned. Each junction plate is drilled with more than 200 holes.
Will Cranston, who worked for nearly 40 years at W & W / AFCO, consulted the shop drawings and then, using a tape measure, ruler and pencil, marked the location smaller plates to hold the plates together until they are bolted to the deck. .
Pascual was joined by Ricky Waters and Robert West to use a pneumatic grinder to remove the primer from the marked area of the joint plates and filler plates. Pascual then used another power tool to clean the areas where the small plates will be attached. Cranston came up behind them to preheat the sanded areas as well as the small plates.
“All the guys here on the floor are skilled craftsmen,” Eagle said.
An elevator parked in the roof of the cavernous building was set up to pick up each plate and place it to the side while Cranston welded the small plates that would hold the splice plate and filler plate together, four each for each. of the three plates. assemblies.
W & W / AFCO is due to make at least two more plate deliveries this week as round-the-clock work has resumed on the bridge, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation.