Pres. Trump Wants to Spend $1T on Infrastructure: How Will He Pay For It?
Building Bridges Together
The USW members at Veritas Steel in Eau Claire, Wis., are part of a small, close-knit work force who together help to build some of the biggest and most complex structures in the United States. About 125 members of Local 2138 at the Veritas fabrication plant create huge girders, trusses and other bridge components out of steel, piece them together to make sure they fit, then disassemble and prepare them for shipment to construction sites across the country. "Sometimes we don’t even realize how big things are until we see them out in the field," said Pete Tio, president of Local 2138, who spends his work days in the massive Veritas yard where the workers assemble their finished creations. The factory includes about 300,000 square feet of indoor space as well as about 60 acres outdoors, where USW members like Tio work in rain, snow and sometimes below-zero temperatures under fairly strict deadlines. "We make sure erything fits like a glove before it gets shipped out," said Dennis Wagner, Local 2138 vice president, who has worked at the plant for nearly 31 years.
New owners, fresh start
"The work these guys do is amazing," said manager Lance Shaver, who arrived at the plant almost three years ago after Atlas, an industrial holding company, formed Veritas Steel to take over the troubled Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. (PDM). In November 2013, USW members welcomed the arrival of Atlas, a company with a reputation for breathing new life into struggling businesses, with District 2 Director Michael Bolton calling the acquisition a "win-win." "If Atlas hadn't come along, we might not be here," Tio said. After the change in ownership, USW members, already skilled at building physical bridges, got to work bridging the long-standing gap between labor and management in Eau Claire. At a shop where negotiators had held past contract negotiations in separate rooms with almost no face-to-face contact, the USW and Veritas now operate as a team. "We have input on almost everything," Wagner said.
In the nearly three years with Veritas at the helm, the local has only had one contract-related complaint (Tio hesitates to even call it a grievance), which was resolved after a meeting of less than a half-hour. Another change Veritas made was to pay its hourly workers bonuses – outside of the USW collective bargaining agreement – each time the company reached quarterly production goals. The overall result has been a new workplace culture – one with better employee morale, increased efficiency, and a safer, more productive work environment for USW members. "We've been through a lot of battles here, times when we had our shields up," Wagner said. "Now, it is much better." Shaver stays in close contact with workers on the floor, making sure they have the time, equipment and proper staffing for the jobs they have to do. "They came in and said, 'the workers are our number-one asset,'" said Jeff Bauer, a 31-year veteran who was working alongside Cole Olson in the factory's assembly shop during a recent visit to the plant by USW@Work.
'A lot of changes'
Carlo Van Heertum has seen "a lot of changes" since he started working for PDM 41 years ago. In his early days, the company made bridge parts as well as structural steel for use in skyscrapers and other large-scale projects. PDM workers produced the stainless steel triangles that make up the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, as well as the forked columns at the bottom of the original World Trade Center in New York City. Today, the workers in Eau Claire are exclusively dedicated to bridge-building, a field that has seen a significant increase in competition over the years. "Everybody and their brother is making bridges now," Wagner said. Veritas produces all types of spans, from pedestrian and railroad bridges to arch and truss bridges that carry highway traffic. What sets the company apart from its competitors is its ability to customize each project and make it unique. "Every bridge we make is different," said USW member Bob Rybka. That's what makes it fun. Not every company does that. These aren't 'cookie cutters' like some companies make." As an example, in 2004, as Detroit was preparing to host Super Bowl XL, local officials also were making plans for construction of the Gateway Bridge and wanted parts of the structure to resemble footballs. Veritas was able to fulfill that unusual request. "That's one reason why we get so much business," Wagner said. "We can do the complex stuff."
Ivesting in equipment
Workers at Veritas do a variety of jobs – from smoothing and shaping large pieces of steel to make sure they fit together perfectly, to welding pieces together, painting them and preparing them for the often long journey to their destination. Some of the bridge components produced at Veritas weigh as much as 232,000 pounds, and some pieces require as many as three massive lifts, equipped with cranes, to position them into place. Dealing with such giant pieces of steel makes safety and health a top priority both for the company and for the union. "One slip up and it could kill you," Bauer said. Veritas has helped improve safety and health by investing millions of dollars in modern equipment and other updates at the plant, which had fallen into disrepair before the takeover. "It's hard to do the job right without the right tools and equipment," Wagner said. While safety at Veritas has made major strides over the years, there is always room for improvement, Wagner said. "Nobody comes to work to get hurt," he said. Despite the updated equipment and the ever-increasing size of the products they make, much of the work USW members perform at Veritas is still intricate enough that it must be done by hand. "This is skilled work. There's nothing automated about it," Shaver said. "We don't do the same thing twice." Even in the facility's paint shop, workers must be meticulous, making sure to brush each one of the hundreds of bolts on a girder with at least three coats of paint to make sure that the piece will pass inspection. State safety inspectors from around the country regularly visit the Veritas facility to review the company's finished products, sometimes spending as much as a week at a time to make sure the products meet their rigorous standards. Besides dealing with state-by-state inspection standards, Veritas grows its business by developing relationships with contractors throughout the United States who bid on public projects and then hire Veritas to complete the fabrication portion of the work. In addition to the Eau Claire facility, Veritas operates fabrication plants in
Wausau, Wis., and Palatka, Fla., where workers are not represented by the USW.
The workers in Eau Claire recently completed a bridge in Cleveland and are now working on spans that will be erected in Minnesota, Illinois and Kansas. The Veritas employees are planning a bus trip to a construction site in nearby Virginia, Minn., so they can get a first-hand look at one of their finished products. While it's not always possible for the workers to personally visit construction sites, Veritas provides a closed-circuit video feed on a television in the employee lunch room so the workers can monitor the progress of their various bridges as they are built. "These guys should be proud of what they do," Shaver said. One thing both labor and management in Eau Claire are equally proud of is the fact that no foreign steel is permitted on the company's property. Even the equipment, down to the chains workers use on their cranes and lifts (there are more than 1,000 chains on the property), is made in the United States.
"We don’t receive any foreign steel," Tio said. "If it does show up, we ship it right back." That dedication to American workers is a value Shaver shares with the USW membership. "We're here to do one main thing, and that is to create jobs and to create livelihoods for people," Shaver said. "Our number one goal is to create manufacturing jobs in this country."
Wally Kirkham, who has worked at the plant for 43 years, is the company's most senior employee. While he said he has lost track of the number of bridges he's been part of building over the years, one of Kirkham's most memorable projects
was the Blue Water Bridge, connecting Michigan with Ontario, Canada. Workers in Eau Claire produced one half of the bridge, while Canadian workers made the other half. The two sides met in the middle. That team effort is similar to the kind of partnership that has taken hold between labor and management at Veritas. That kind of teamwork is essential to get such large, intricate and important work done efficiently, Kirkham said. "You need everybody working together to get this done," Kirkham said.
Eggners Ferry Bridge Tribute
Also be sure to check out WKDZ's radio broadcast of William Turner on Eggners Ferry Bridge.« Back to News
Eggners Ferry Bridge Demolition
Highway 53 Relocation
VIRGINIA, Minn. – The first of 80 truckloads carrying steel for the Highway 53 bridge began arriving in Virginia this week.
On Tuesday, the first plate girder, weighing more than 200,000 pounds rolled onto the project site.
“The bridge will use more than 10 million pounds of steel,” said MnDOT project director Pat Huston. “It will be in the form of large girders and connecting material that we will use to build the spans across the pit.” He added that steel deliveries will continue into the middle of November. Installation of the girders could begin as early as September.
Crews continue the reconstruction of southbound Highway 53 from Vermillion Drive to the eastbound ramp to Highway 135. There is one lane of traffic in each direction while crews rebuild the southbound roadway. The work will take about two months. Next year, crews will rebuild the northbound side of Highway 53 in that area. Backups before the work zone concern project officials, who urge motorists to use the zipper merge.
Work on the bridge over Rouchleau pit also continues. Crews are building the concrete forms for the east abutment. The west pier is is nearly completed, and the east pier should be finished by sometime next month.
Crews are also beginning to build falsework, a temporary support system that will be used as the steel girders are installed.
For more information on the project, visit the project website at mndot.gov/hwy53relocation. Viewers will also find access to the project’s web cam, as well as new photos of the project on that website.
For questions or concerns about the project, call the project hotline at 218-820-8532.« Back to News
Veritas Steel receives 2016 Prize Bridge Award in Major Span Category
THE COUNTRY’S BEST STEEL BRIDGES have been honored in this year’s Prize Bridge Awards competition. Conducted every two years by the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA), the program honors outstanding and innovative steel bridges constructed in the U.S. The awards are presented in several categories: major span, long span, medium span, short span, movable span, reconstructed, special purpose, accelerated bridge construction and sustainability. This year’s 16 winners, divided into Prize and Merit winners, range from a mammoth marquee Mississippi River crossing to the country’s first steel extradosed bridge. Winning bridge projects were selected based on innovation, aesthetics and design and engineering solutions, by a jury of five bridge professionals
This year’s competition included a variety of bridge structure types and construction methods. All structures were required to have opened to traffic between May 1, 2013 and September 30, 2015.
The competition originated in 1928, with the Sixth Street Bridge in Pittsburgh taking first place, and over the years more than 300 bridges have won in a variety of categories. Between 1928 and 1977, the Prize Bridge Competition was held annually, and since then has been held every other year, with the winners being announced at NSBA’s World Steel Bridge Symposium. The following pages highlight this year’s winners. Congratulations to all of the winning teams!
And check out past winners in the NSBA archives at www.steelbridges.org.
2016 Prize Awards Jury
➤ David Spires, P.E.
Senior Engineering Manager with WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
➤ Michael Culmo, P.E.
Vice President of Transportation and Structures with CME Engineering
➤ Brian Kozy, P.E., Ph.D.
Structural Engineering Division Team Leader with FHWA
➤ Steve Jacobi, P.E.
State Bridge Engineer for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation
➤ Carmen Swanwick, S.E.
Chief Structural Engineer for the Utah Department of Transportation
PRIZE WINNER: MAJOR SPAN
THE HASTINGS BRIDGE over the Mississippi River in Hastings, Minn., is a record-breaker.
Built as a replacement for the functionally obsolete Hastings High Bridge (built in 1950), the new 1,938-ft-long bridge—with a 545-ft main span—is the longest freestanding tied-arch bridge in North America. The overall project was accelerated through MnDOT’s Chapter 152 Bridge Improvement Program following the I-35W bridge collapse. MnDOT identified this route as critical to the mobility and commerce of Minnesota because it carried the highest daily traffic volume of any two-lane trunk highway in the state.
The bridge was constructed using design-build procurement and required accelerated bridge construction (ABC) technology to meet the demanding schedule and limit impacts on the travelling public. The tied-arch structural system is comprised of two freestanding vertical structural steel arch ribs with trapezoidal cross sections and variable depth. Post-tensioning steel strands were used to resist the arch thrust and encased in cast-in-place concrete tie girders and knuckles. The structural steel floor system consists of a grid of floor beams, full-depth longitudinal stringers and secondary longitudinal stringers all made composite with a cast-in-place concrete deck. The knuckles and deck are integral with the piers, creating a fully framed system. A network of structural strand hangers is used to suspend the floor system from the arch ribs.
All structural tension members are load-path redundant for fracture at any point in a single member or connection subject to tension under permanent loads and vehicular live load. Consequently, there are no fracture-critical bridge elements on the structure. The structure was analyzed for fracture of all tension members using a 3D time-history analysis to determine appropriate dynamic effects. The transverse floor beams and full-depth longitudinal stringers form a grid floor system, which allows load transferring in both the longitudinal and the transverse directions. This structural steel grid forms a redundant system with the primary load path through the transverse floor beams. The full-depth longitudinal stringers provide multiple supports, which minimize deflections from the potential fracture of a floor beam and significantly reduce the resulting fracture energy release and dynamic impact.
The design-build team determined very early that the traditional methods of erecting the arch off-site on high towers and floating it in over the piers was too risky due to the high center of gravity and variability of river water elevations, which could delay move-in. Therefore, the team elected to erect the arch on land, transfer it onto barges with self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs), float it in low, position it between the piers using a skid rail system and lift it into place with strand jacks on top of the piers.
The steel floor beams and longitudinal stringers were erected on land in the staging area by the river bank with temporary supports. A temporary tension tie system, consisting of two W36 sections to resist the thrust of each arch rib, was used to facilitate the erection and served to stabilize the floor system and support the formwork for the cast-in-place tie girder. A steel lifting connection served as a temporary knuckle connecting the arch rib with the temporary tie. Finally, the hangers were installed between the arch rib and the ends of each floor beam. The arch ribs were braced during erection, and the entire system was framed using the temporary rib bracing, floor system and the lower lateral bracing system.
After completing the steel member erection on land, eight 16-axle SPMTs were brought in and situated with two under each of the corners of the arch system. The vertical lifting ability of the SPMTs was used to lift each of the four corners of the arch in unison, bringing the arch off of its support towers and the floor system off the temporary supports. The total vertical lift was approximately 6 in. to account for the deflection of the arch and elongation of the tie as the arch picked up the weight of the floor system. The wheels of the SPMTs at one end of the arch were rotated 90° to allow them to roll with the elongation of the temporary tie girder. After a successful lift-off, the wheels were rotated back to prepare for the move down the slope to the river bank, while all the temporary supports and towers were taken down.
The SPMTs under the corners at each end were connected together to act in unison for moving the arch system transversely down to the river bank and over a trestle onto barges. Water level monitors at each corner of the arch were used to check the slope between the ends of each arch and the SPMTs were adjusted vertically to maintain a constant slope between the arches and avoid twisting the floor system as they marched the arch down a 3.5% slope to the river and onto the barges.
One barge was positioned at each end of the arch to allow each 104-ft-wide end to roll onto the barge from one end toward the center until both sides of the arch were positioned in the center of the two barges. The barges were constantly monitored and re-ballasted as the SPMTs rolled each end of the arch onto the barges. The total move onto the barges took about 12 hours.
The arch was floated down stream to the bridge site and positioned adjacent to the piers. Due to the curve in the river bank and the south piers’ position on the river bank, the arch was skidded south off the south barge onto the river bank with a skid track system until it lined up with the horizontal skid rails that were positioned between the piers. Once in position on the south end, the support was transitioned from longitudinal to transverse skid shoes. The north end of the arch was unloaded off the barge onto the skid rails during the transverse slide with the help of SPMTs on the barge. Once positioned between the piers, the arch was ready for lifting.
The lifting frame supporting the strand jack system was anchored directly to the top of the pier. The strand jack system was connected to the arch system-lifting connection and hoisted 55 ft onto the top of the piers. Pier deflections were monitored and checked to ensure clearance after liftoff from the skid rails. Once in place, a support frame was moved into position under the temporary knuckle and the bridge was lowered into its final position. The lifting connection and support frame were cast into the permanent concrete knuckle. The concrete tie girder and knuckle were post-tensioned sequentially as the knuckle, tie and deck concrete were placed. To compensate for creep, shrinkage and shortening, the piers were jacked apart 6 in. before casting the knuckle, and the temporary arch bracing remained in place until the deck was cast. The deck was placed in a single pour, beginning at the center of the bridge. Hanger adjustments for geometry and stress were made by modifying the heights of the shim packs at each hanger. The float-in and lift process for the 3,300-ton arch steel structure was completed within a 48-hour window to limit the amount of time the Mississippi River navigation channel was closed.
Minnesota Department of Transportation, St. Paul
Parsons Corporation, Chicago
Lunda Construction Company, Rosemount, Minn.
Veritas Steel, Eau Claire, Wis.
Candraft Detailing, Inc., New Westminster, B.C., Canada
Kentucky Bridge Featured in Roads&Bridges
Veritas Steel Names Henrik Jensen Chief Executive Officer
USW Welcomes Veritas Acquisition of PDM Bridge Plant in Wisconsin
MENASHA, Wis. (November 6) – The United Steelworkers (USW) released the following statement today from USW District 2 Director Michael Bolton in response to Veritas Steel’s acquisition of certain assets of PDM Bridge, including a plant in Eau Claire, Wis., where workers are members of the USW:
“This acquisition is a win-win for both the USW and for the future of the steel fabrication industry. We are excited to work with a company like Veritas. This company has already demonstrated its strong commitment to its great workforce by ensuring that this transaction will protect American jobs.
“As our country continues to dig its way out of a recession, the road toward economic recovery starts with investing in domestic manufacturing jobs. We applaud Veritas' work towards that objective and look forward to a long and prosperous future for USW members."
District 2 of the USW includes the states of Michigan and Wisconsin. The USW represents 850,000 members in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. It is the largest private-sector union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments and agencies.« Back to News
Atlas Holdings Forms Veritas Steel, Acquires Certain Assets of PDM Bridge
CHICAGO, Illinois. (November 5, 2013) — Veritas Steel LLC announced today that it has acquired certain assets of PDM Bridge, LLC, a steel fabricator that produces steel components for the largest and most complex bridge structures. Veritas Steel is a newly formed portfolio company of Atlas Holdings, an industrial holding company headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Veritas Steel LLC will be based in Chicago.
With the acquisition, Veritas Steel will operate three fabrication plants located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Wausau, Wisconsin and Palatka, Florida. These plants are in geographically strategic locations which give Veritas significant reach across several U.S. regions to competitively bid on complex jobs. All associates at these plants have been offered positions with Veritas Steel.
“We are pleased to announce the formation of Veritas Steel LLC, the purchase of certain assets of PDM Bridge and the addition to the Atlas family of three quality workforces in great communities,” Atlas Holdings Managing Partner Tim Fazio said. “Veritas will build on PDM Bridge’s historical success and reputation, while adding Atlas’ operating and financial expertise. With three strategically located plants, a highly-skilled workforce, and expanded bonding capacity, Veritas will have the capability to more competitively bid on the most complex projects. We have established Veritas with a rock solid balance sheet and we intend to invest in high return capital projects that will result in greater efficiency.”
"Veritas' commitment towards its great workforce is a win-win for both the steelworkers and for the future of the steel fabrication industry," said Michael Bolton, Director of USW District 2. "As America digs its way out of a recession, the road toward economic recovery starts with investing in domestic manufacturing jobs. We applaud Veritas' work towards that objective." Gary Collins, President of Shopmen’s Local 811 Ironworkers, said "keeping its plants open, operational and fully staffed shows Veritas is committed towards its skilled workers and their future. The ironworker community is excited about the investment Veritas is making, starting with its great workforce, and we look forward to seeing the company succeed as new opportunities in the bridge fabrication market present themselves."
As part of the transaction, Veritas is adding significant expertise and leadership to its executive team with the addition of Richard Phillips and Henrik Jensen to the Board of Veritas. Mr. Phillips most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Hirschfeld Industries, one of the country’s largest bridge fabricators. Mr. Jensen, who will serve as the Chairman of the Board of Veritas, is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of Pangborn Group, an Atlas company which is a leading manufacturer of complete surface preparation systems, equipment and services including systems that are sold into the steel fabrication industry.
“This is an exciting time for this company. PDM’s historic reputation for successful execution to the highest quality standards will be the foundation for Veritas’ future growth. We will continue to successfully bid on and build the most high profile and complex bridge contracts throughout the Central and Eastern U.S.,” said Veritas CEO Matt Cahill. “I want to welcome Mr. Phillips and Mr. Jensen onboard and I look forward to working with them as we lead our extraordinary team of employees into the next chapter as a company.”
ABOUT VERITAS STEEL LLC
Veritas Steel LLC is a steel fabricator capable of producing steel components for the largest and most complex bridge structures. The Veritas Steel fabricating facilities are equipped with state-of-the-art CNC equipment and modern paint facilities capable of applying full shop paint systems, which the bridge industry has come to expect. Veritas Steel facilities are certified by the American Institute of Steel Construction to have the personnel, organization, experience, capability and commitment to produce fabricated structural steel for Conventional Steel Building Structures, Simple Steel Bridges, Complex Steel Building Structures and Major Steel Bridges With Fracture Critical and Paint Endorsements as set forth in the AISC Certification Program. The market area of Veritas Steel expands nationwide for major bridge projects. For more information about Veritas Steel, please visit www.veritassteel.com.
ABOUT ATLAS HOLDINGS LLC
Atlas Holdings LLC is an industrial holding company headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. Atlas employs approximately 10,000 people at more than ninety facilities worldwide. Atlas operates in a number of industrial sectors, including building materials, energy, capital equipment, steel mill services, wood products, pulp and paper, and packaging. Atlas’ portfolio companies combined generate in excess of $3 billion dollars in revenues annually. Over the last twenty five years the principals of Atlas, in partnership with capable management teams, have built more than 40 companies in a variety of industries. For additional information, please visit www.atlasholdingsllc.com.