PCL Construction – Lake Barkley Bridge

PCL Lake Barkley BridgePCL Construction aims to finish the Lake Barkley Bridge in spring 2018.
By Alan Dorich

When PCL Construction builds a complex project, it makes sure to put an emphasis on safety. “The project team and company care about the workers,” Project Manager Eric Chavez says. “It’s just a great company to work for.”

The contractor is applying that focus to its Lake Barkley Bridge project in Canton, Ky., which will connect the state’s Land Between the Lakes area. The structure also will replace the Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge, which was built in 1932 and recently declared obsolete.

When finished, the Lake Barkley Bridge will widen 1.5 miles of the approach of US 68/KY 80 from two to four lanes. Each lane will be 11 feet wide with four-foot shoulders and a 10-foot pedestrian/bicycle path.

This marks PCL’s first project with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC). “They’re a really good owner to work with,” Chavez says.

Right on Track

PCL won the contract for the Lake Barkley Bridge project in February 2015, and it is set for completion next April. “We’re about two-thirds of the way done with the project,” Chavez says.

“We still have to complete the west approach sub-structure, girder erection, bridge deck placement and all the finishes that are required to put traffic on the bridge,” he says. After that work is done, PCL will demolish the Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge. PCL Lake Barkley Bridge box

One of the major features of the Lake Barkley Bridge is the 2,500-ton basket-handled network tied arch, which will be a signature gateway entrance structure. PCL erected it through the use of a float-in system, Chavez recalls.

After erecting eight lifting towers on four barges, “We floated the entire system with the 550-foot span arch to the main channel,” he explains, noting that PCL closed the channel before securing the barges to the piers and raised the arch 65 feet into the air.

Once the alignment was right, “We then lowered the arch down to the bearings on the piers,” Chavez recalls, adding that the company then removed the towers, and reopened the channel to resume maritime traffic.

“We had a 72-hour channel closure to maritime traffic and we were able to open the channel in 48 hours,” he says. “We moved the structure into place and did it safely.”

The bedrock that the bridge is being built on features karst formations that are prone to sinkholes, like the one that opened beneath the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., in 2014.

The contractor will prevent this by drilling shafts through the layers of rock until it reaches the solid bedrock to support the bridge. “All of the drilled shafts will be completed by the end of March,” Chavez predicts. “We’ll have the bridge open in time for our substantial completion date.”

On The Safety Front

PCL has avoided safety hazards as it has built Lake Barkley Bridge. “Everything’s been going pretty well,” Chavez says, noting that the project team has kept safe.

“We do a job hazard analysis for all areas of work,” he says, noting that the company performs pre-job safety instructions (PSIs) before each task is started. “We also have our weekly Monday morning kick-off on every job site with subcontractors to make sure we’re raising awareness on the safety front.”

The company also conducts site safety inspections where employees look for errors and correct them. “We’re very proactive on the safety front to maintain a safe job site,” he says.

Building Goals

With U.S. headquarters in Denver, PCL is a group of independent construction firms owned by employees in the United States, Canada and Australia. “As construction leaders, PCL employees demonstrate a commitment to safety, quality and sustainability,” it says.

Chavez, who has been with PCL for 16 years, expects the company to stay busy. “We are continuing to bid additional work here in Kentucky,” he says, noting that the company expects to take on more KYTC projects. “[They are] a great owner to work for.

“We’ll also continue to build infrastructure throughout the Midwest and Eastern part of the United States,” he says. “We’ll continue to go after complex projects throughout the United States and maintain our presence in the region.”


Embracing Quality

PCL Construction’s employees follow the philosophy to “Build it Right, Build it Once.” Its quality management program is designed to ensure that this commitment is apparent to its staff, design partners and trade contractors.

“Successful, quality projects demonstrate a culture that embraces clear communication, effective problem solving and a strong client/builder relationship,” PCL says. “Quality leadership offers value to both the organization and its customers by ensuring that each party’s expectations are met to the fullest extent possible.”

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