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July 4, 2004 Ramps, west platform extension, counterweights and pier construction

This morning's sun was warm and inviting and as I bicycled under the approaches I was a symmetry that just asked for a photo. Here are the under bellies of the west approach - first, from the west and then to the east.

The west approach

Extending to anchor 6 on the west platform: waiting for cross members

Eastward side of the west platform: ready to add the 6th anchor and cross beams which are waiting on a nearby barge. Note the stack of concrete blocks adjacent to the 4th anchor (counting from the pylon out) in the left photo. The total weight is 125 tons and this stack of blocks rides on a carriage that can be moved in response to changing load conditions. There appear to actually be 2 stacks of concrete blocks (counterweights) one located near the pylon (right photo) and one between the 3rd and 4th anchors (see below). These were not obvious in the June 6 photos.

A delicate balancing act:

When biking back across the bridge I notices a stack of what appear to be concrete blocks on the east platform resting on the west pylon. I got to thinking - hmmm - because the east platform is 5 cable stays long and the west platform is 6 cable stays long, then probably this is one of several counterweights necessary to keep the bridge platform balanced? Note the stack of concrete blocks adjacent to the 4th left cable anchor and the hint of a symmetric stack of blocks adjacent to the 4th right cable anchor (marked by another green porta-potty). Compare the location with their location on July 11 (below).

The Post and Courier (July 18) explains the counterweight management as follows:

"Counterweight system: Huge diesel engines drive 3 carts loaded with concrete slabs. Each car weights 125 tons and is located on top of the two pulley systems per tower. Workers will position the series of cards during construction to keep the bridge balanced as the roadway extends out across the river. The carts also will be used to stabilize the road deck during a hurricane."

The east pylon - 5 anchors and growing (but more slowly than the west pylon).

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Attribution: C. Frank Starmer from