Dateline – Oliveria, New York, May 22, 2012 –
On your TV or computer the destruction caused by hurricanes Irene and Lee to the upstate New York community of Big Indian last September may have seemed small. It’s only when you see it with your own eyes do you begin to truly appreciate the personal sacrifices and hard work which have brought this Catskill Mountain community back to life. Today, Ulster County Executive Michael Hein provided the crowning touch to the completion of the recovery efforts with the dedication of Cascade Brook Bridge to UCDPW employee Steven Fischer. Before the ceremony, The UC Bridge Crews put in an extra effort to honor their communities and former co-worker who died tragically in 2010.
“Most of the bridges in hamlets of Oliveria, Big Indian, Phoenicia, and the surrounding areas of The Town of Hardenburgh were lost,” said Mr. Bob Willis, President of LHV Precast, Inc. (www.lhvprecast.com) of Kingston, NY. The bridges, that are the only links between the high mountain villages, are also vital to the economy of everyone living in the area of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Resort. “In a mountainous region larger than the size of Manhattan there were many isolated communities and homes without electricity, where cell phone service is sketchy at best. Something had to be done quickly to get to those who were trapped.” The solution was to implement “ABC”; Accelerated Bridge Construction, a new process now being used around the country whereby reclaimed material from a destroyed bridge is re-used in conjunction with new high-tech performance materials. It is a cohesive partnership between supplier and contractor which spans the entire project from design to construction “Using a temporary structure The Ulster County Department of Public Works Bridge Crews were able to open the Hatchery Hollow Bridge in 24 hours.” said Mr. Adam Baker, Sales Consultant of the Stone Strong Retaining Wall Systems for LHV Precast.
The job of manufacturing the key components of the bridge abutments and decks was awarded to LHV Precast, Inc., a leading purveyor of precast concrete products in the Hudson Valley. Founded in 1979, LHV has been producing a precast modular block from Stone Strong Systems, Inc. (www.stonestrong.com ) of Lincoln, Nebraska as a “Stay In Place Form” since 2005. “What makes their products so unique is that they’re very user friendly.” said Bob Willis. Previously, to construct bridge abutments contractors used a more time consuming method of forming walls on site pouring concrete then removing the forms. The Stone Strong System utilizes hollow precast blocks made in a controlled environment by LHV. The blocks are available in a variety of sizes and shapes from a 24SF block (3’H x 8’L x 3’- 8”W), to a 6SF block (1’-6”H x 4’ L x 3’-8” W). They even have 45 and 90 degree corner blocks. “The blocks have been compared to giant Legos.” said Mr. Willis. They’re lighter to transport and have cast-in-place lifting loops that act as alignment guides for each successive course. Two workers and a crane can easily maneuver them into place. The block’s hollow core can then be filled with an aggregate or concrete depending upon the specifications. Important to many communities the overall aesthetics look outstanding, and blocks come with a Chiseled Granite finish similar to the 19th century abutments that dot the Catskill landscape. The blocks are eco-friendly and conform to most environmental standards as well. LHV Precast also produced the 7” thick bridge decks, composed of a strong, light-weight aggregate from Solite Materials Inc. (www.nesolite.com ) of Saugerties, NY. The panels weight in at 120 pounds per cubic foot or about 20 percent lighter than standard concrete mix designed panels.
By Thanksgiving, under the guidance of Mr. Bob Graney, Superintendent of the Ulster County Department of Public Works Bridge Crew and Lead Engineer Mr. Ed Pine, the hard work of the UC Bridge Crews using Accelerated Bridge Construction in combination with cutting-edge precast concrete innovations by LHV Precast Inc. allowed for the opening of 5 bridges, 1 box culvert, and 2 bridge decks in less than 3 months time. The extensive damage wrought by hurricanes Irene and Lee to these communities and others in upstate New York necessitated the reconstruction of many other bridges and work proceeded throughout the winter. The versatility of the Stone Strong System in bridge abutment design is something that Mr. David Sheely, The Commissioner of The UCDPW, and Mr. Ed Pine have taken advantage of for several years. Replacing 26 stream crossing before the storms, and proven again today by the system’s ability to turn a radius continuing the running bond, thus making the installation of the block easier, as well as, arching the wing-walls for added strength on the Steven F. Fischer Cascade Brook Bridge project.