VSL Washington DC recently provided equipment and technical assistance for a critical heavy lift for Amtrak - the premier passenger train service in the United States. VSL personnel and equipment played a key role in the successful placement of a 150-foot long, 1,385-ton lift span to replace the bascule on the Amtrak-owned bridge over the Thames River in Connecticut. For the lift, four 590-ton strand lifting units (SLUs) were attached to the tops of four steel columns fixed to the barge holding the span. Before reaching the lifting towers of the bridge, the lift span was raised 30 feet. Once the barge had centered the new span between the lifting towers, they were lowered and engaged with the lifting mechanisms on the towers. In total, 10 hours of the 36-hour process involved lifting and lowering the span. VSL technical supervisors were on-site for the entire operation.
The Thames River Bridge provides a crucial crossing for trains in the northeast corridor of the United States. The replacement of the bascule span was an extremely time-sensitive component of a scheduled four-day shutdown and was described by Amtrak as "one of the largest engineering endeavors in company history." VSL was selected because of its ability to respond quickly and provide technical assistance. VSL quickly mobilized forces for the lift which was the last step of the shutdown. The scope of work involved providing the equipment; the details necessary for Cianbro, the general contractor, to engineer the lift; operational drawings; a method statement; training; and technical supervisors.