Silverthorne bridge swap requires biggest crane ever for Summit County
The largest crane ever used for a construction project in Summit County hoisted out the old 100-foot Nike Bridge at the Silverthorne Outlets on Wednesday to replace it with a new “Bridge to Savings.”
Altogether, the town spent about $500,000 on the bridge-replacement project after determining it would be cheaper in the long run to swap out the old deteriorating bridge rather than keep up regular painting and maintenance on it, said Mark Leidal, assistant town manager.
The new bridge is made of corten steel, an alloy that forms a rust-like appearance after being exposed to the elements for several years and eliminates any need for paint.
Also, the new bridge can easily handle a 10,000-pound load, said Tom Daugherty, Silverthorne’s director of public works, adding that it’s strong enough “you could drive a pickup across it.”
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Moving the 25-year-old, 100-foot span, however, was easier said than done. The problem wasn’t so much the weight of the bridges — 45,000 pounds for the old one and 52,000 pounds on the new one — a relatively light lift by modern-day standards.
Instead, it was how far the crane had to extend to safely pick the bridge up, swing it over a cluster of lodge pole pine trees and clear a handful of shops in the Outlets.
The nine-axle crane is rated to lift 450 tons, according to Frank Just of Duffy Crane and Hauling, the company that was contracted to do the work.
“Big crane,” he said matter-of-factly.
All decked out with the necessary weights to counter-balance the lift, the crane weighed almost 500,000 pounds by itself.
“This machine cost $3.2 million,” Just said. “It’s one of the largest cranes in this area. There are a few bigger, but this is the biggest crane that’s ever been in Summit County.”
As the old bridge was coming up, Daugherty said the new bridge comes with at least a 50-year lifespan, and he and Leidal both took satisfaction in the fact that the bridge should outlive them.
Daugherty said the new bridge is expected to open to the public sometime at the end of next week, once the decking and concrete work is complete. After that, they’ll add lighting and decorative flags.
Spanning more than 100 feet over the Blue River, the town is calling the new path a “Bridge to Savings,” and it comes as a small piece of the town’s downtown-redevelopment strategy. In a news release, town officials said the new bridge will provide “a beautiful new entryway” for shoppers looking to save money on their favorite brands at the Outlets.
All stores will remain open during construction, which is expected to continue through Oct. 15, and the center plans to host a “Bridge to Savings” sale in the near future to commemorate the event.
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