This weekend, the Utah Department of Transportation plans to replace the 4500 South bridge over the east-side belt of I-215.
The job will go something like this: Lift up old bridge, move it away. Pick up new bridge, set it into place.
Just like that.
UDOT engineers estimate the work will take about 36 hours. A section of I-215 from 3300 South to 6200 South will close today at 8 p.m. and will reopen Monday in time for the morning commute, UDOT says. The 4500 South bridge will close at noon today, and will reopen in approximately 10 days.
"We have reduced construction delays from months to days," Shana Lindsey, UDOT director of research and bridge operations, said of the project.
Here's how: With the help of machines known as "self-propelled modular transporters," workers will lift the old bridge from its support columns. The transporters look similar to a flatbed trailer, and have hydraulic engine lifts and dozens of wheels that are controlled by a computer.
Beginning around 8 a.m. on Saturday, the transporters will be positioned under the old bridge. Workers will then use a sort of joystick to maneuver the machines and lift the bridge across the freeway to a demolition area.
The move could take three to six hours.
Then on Sunday around 11 a.m., workers will reposition the transporters under the new 4500 South bridge. The structure has been under construction the past five months near the 4500 South off-ramp, and looks as if it's a launch ramp to nowhere.
The new bridge will be lifted, moved across the freeway and then set atop two support structures built under the old 4500 South bridge. It's estimated installing the new bridge will take four hours or more.
Lindsey says UDOT is one of the first agencies in the country to build a bridge with Self Propelled Modular Transporters. The technology has been used extensively in Europe, and a crew from a Dutch-owned company, Mammoet, will be operating the transporters during UDOT's bridge move, she said.
"It's a big thing for Utah and we're excited to have it here," Lindsey said of the bridge-moving technology.
In the coming years, UDOT hopes to do similar bridge replacements, including along the segment of I-80 from State Street to 1300 East that is now under construction.
Residents who want to watch the bridge move can access viewing areas along Wasatch Boulevard and near the 4500 South off-ramp. Parking is prohibited along Wasatch, but motorists can use the Churchill Junior High parking lot at 3450 East Oakview Drive. Volunteers will be on-hand to direct the public to the viewing areas.For more information, log on to: www.udot.utah.gov and click on the link under "Hot Items" that says "4500 South Structure." A link to an animated video of the bridge move is available on the Web site.