February 20, 2010


The B.C. government is considering using the Hydra platform since its introduction into the B.C. market.

FEATURE | Roadbuilding & Surveying

Hydra platform makes bridge demolition, inspection easier

A newly available piece of equipment is making bridge inspection and some work a lot easier. “It’s a fantastic piece of equipment,” said Matthew Buechler of JJM Construction Ltd. as he described the new Hydra bridge platform.

He was the project manager for his company and used the platform while working on a subcontract with Peter Kiewit & Sons on the Pitt River Bridge in the Lower Mainland.

The platform is produced by the Terex Corporation in South Carolina.

Although the platform has been manufactured for nearly 25 years, it has only recently been made available locally.

Explaining how it works is complicated, but the principle behind the platform is fairly simple.

Imagine a large hand and wrist connected to an equally large arm. The hand is a platform. The arm rises up from where it has been resting on a trailer parked on a bridge. It turns and stretches out over the edge of the bridge. It then reaches down and the “wrist” turns the platform and slides it underneath the bridge. It is not a small platform – it is 35 feet long. The crew that is to do work, rides it down.

Once under the bridge the platform can swivel 180 degrees giving the crew access to a wide reach under the bridge. As required, the trailer holding the unit can move along the entire stretch of a bridge giving workers complete access from one side to the other.

JJM was contracted to remove an old bridge deck at the Pitt River.

It had to be cut up and removed one piece at a time after the new Pitt River Bridge opened. The challenge, Buechler pointed out, was that the concrete was full of cables.

This made cutting through it a complicated matter.

The crew had to cut the cables before sawing through the concrete. They were able to solve the problem by standing on the Hydra platform under the structure to work on the old bridge and cut the cables.

“The platform made the job extremely fast,” said Buechler.

“I liked it very much. There will be a large demand for it for bridge inspections.”

Without the platform, he said, a contractor would likely have had to use some sort of crane device with a counter weight on it to go down under a bridge deck.

Buecher said that process would be both time consuming and expensive.

“This is just so much easier,” he said. “It takes 15 minutes to set it up and you’re ready to go.”

Buecher said that one limitation might be a wide curb or sidewalk that could stop the platform from being flush with the side of a bridge.

In promoting the platform, Terex pointed out that traffic disruptions are kept to a minimum.

There is no need to close more than one outside lane on a bridge - the other lanes can be kept open.

In the near quarter of a century of use, the company claims a 100 per cent safety record for the platform.

Although a newcomer to the Lower Mainland, Terex Hydra cranes have been used all over the world.

Among those studying the platform for possible use is B.C.’s provincial ministry of transportation and highways.

Steve Taylor, president of sales and marketing with Western One Rental & Sales, which rents the machine, said they have been encouraged by the market’s initial response to the platform.

The cost of different models of the platforms ranges from around $150,000 to $250,000. The unit that Western One has acquired cost them about $170,000.

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