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Workers climb up one end of the 110-foot-long, 90-ton girder as it sits on a semitractor/trailer in the closed-off northbound lanes of I-25, just north of the Fillmore interchange close to midnight Dec. 2. They are about to connect heavy-duty nylon slings to thick metal shackles on a triangle-shaped "spreader bar" (which has already been done on the opposite end of the girder). This will allow the slings to hang straight down from the bar to either side of the girder as it's being lifted into place by two giant cranes, one on each end.

Photo essay: New north bridge at Fillmore/I-25 takes form with girder placements

The last girder for the new north bridge rises from the trailer. The two cranes can be seen, with the slings/shackles attached to the girders. The crane operators stay in communication with each other through the lifting/setting process, which lasts about 15 minutes. The crane at left is sitting at the east end of the new bridge, while the crane at right (partly obscured by the semi) is sitting on I-25.
       Overnight work between Dec. 1 and 5 brought the latest dramatic change to the Fillmore/I-25 interchange project.
       Three abutments had taken shape over the previous two months on the north side of the old interchange, but with the placement of six 110-foot-long, 90-ton girders onto them Dec. 1 and 2 motorists could more easily visualize the configuration's layout.
       The Dec. 3-5 work by contractor SEMA Construction prepared the girders for the pouring of the new north bridge's concrete deck later in the month, according to Ted Tjerandsen of project consultant Wilson & Company. This required closing interstate lanes intermittently as well as westbound Fillmore.
       Work that's needed after the deck pour - the application of a weatherproofing membrane that will be under the final pavement - will require at least two consecutive days of 50-degree-plus weather, so it may not occur until spring, he has explained.
       Other current work involves widening and extending the acceleration lane for the northbound on-ramp. It was 400 feet; the new version will be 1,300 feet, Tjerandsen said.
       Started last February, the $15.1 million Fillmore interchange replacement project is due for completion in the summer of 2016. The original span was built around 1960.
       Previous major milestones have been building the new south bridge (just south of the old span) last summer (including its girders in July) and cutting the old bridge lengthwise in September to make room for the new north bridge.
       The Dec. 1-2 girder work required closures of the interstate and Fillmore.
       The end product will feature a bridge deck with a diverging diamond design, in which traffic on Fillmore will cross to opposite sides at either end of the interchange - a layout that the Colorado Department of Transportation considers safer because no turns cross in front of traffic.
       The photos on this page show the sequential placement of the last of the six girders around midnight Dec. 2 (and into Dec. 3), with temperatures around 20 degrees.
LEFT: The girder has been gradually turned in the air to position it between the girders already in place between the center and east abutments for the new north bridge. Photo was taken near the upper crane (the cab for the crane operator is at far right). Part of the crane lifting the other end from its position on I-25 can be seen in the background. RIGHT: A worker standing next to the place where the east end of the girder needs to rest signals to the upper crane operator (unseen to his left). A similar collaboration would be taking place at the girder's west end.
A zoomed-out view from west of the interchange shows the fuller scene, including the positions of both cranes and the last girder now in place (along with the other five), with the shackles/slings still attached while workers ensure that the placement is correct. The new north bridge is just north of the original interchange bridge, which was cut lengthwise in September, leaving two lanes that will continue to be used until the new north bridge can be opened. At that point, the remainder of the old bridge will be demolished. The new south bridge, which has been in operation since September - also carrying two lanes - is at far right, with an artistic sort of fence along its north side.

Westside Pioneer article and photos
(Posted 12/3/15, updated 1/4/16; Transportation: Fillmore/I-25)

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