Paving a New Southbound I-65 Bridge Deck

Underneath the Bidwell Machine
Underneath the Bidwell Machine

Click on the image to enlarge it in a separate window.

Today’s post is a few images of the process of paving the roadway on the new section of Southbound I-65 here in Louisville. In the process of constructing the new downtown bridge there are over 200 additional spans that are being built as the highway passes through Louisville. The photos here are part of the paving of just one of those spans.

The first photo was taken around 4:00 AM while the paving machine was at rest. I think the paving machine is known as a Bidwell Machine because that is who manufactures them. I heard several Operating Engineers refer to it as the “Bidwell” which is why I think I’m correct in calling it that. At any rate this machine spreads and finishes the concrete after the laborers have placed it on the deck using a large hose and a concrete pump to raise it from ground level below the roadway onto the new roadway.

The crew was waiting for the concrete that was being pumped to be certified that it was the correct composition and consistency for use. While that testing process was taking place the leading edge of the fresh concrete already in place was covered with burlap blankets and kept wet so that there wouldn’t be a problem when the pouring resumed. The men on the left side of the image are the quality inspectors and work for the Kentucky Department of Transportation. It is their job to verify that all concrete and construction materials and processes are within the specifications required for proper and safe construction of the roadway.

Very often when we laymen see a construction site we may think that folks are standing around doing nothing. The reality is that there are many facets to a construction project that temporarily halt work but everyone we see is an integral part of the process. I like to think of it as similar to a football game. The team is simply waiting for the ball to be snapped and then everyone has a role to play in an effort to complete the play. In this case the ball is waiting for the officials to place it on the scrimmage line and blow the whistle for the game to resume.

Concrete Pump Snorkel
Concrete Pump Boom

Click on the image to enlarge it in a separate window.

THis image shows the concrete pump boom that is used to place the concrete on the roadway. In the lower right side you can see two concrete trucks positioned to feed wet concrete into the hopper on the pump. The pump operator then delivers the wet mix through the boom and hose to another operator on top who actually directs the placing of the boom using a joy stick apparatus that he wears on his shoulders. Finally there is a laborer who is aiming the snorkel on the end of the hose to place the concrete where it needs to be.

Feeding the concrete pump
Feeding the concrete pump

Click on the image to enlarge it in a separate window.

This image shows the concrete pump and the two concrete delivery truck that are required to feed it. These truck are just two of many that were delivering concrete to the pump that morning. As soon as they had offloaded their concrete another pair replaced them; this went on for hours as truck after truck delivered more material. In this case there were over 50 loads of concrete delivered just to pour one span of the new roadway.

Pumping the concrete
Pumping the concrete requires communication and direction.

Click on the image to enlarge it in a separate window.

As you can see by this image the sun has started to rise and the concrete pour has progressed further south. I couldn’t hear what was being said but clearly this was a moment when people were learning what the next actions they needed to take would be  once the next batch of concrete started flowing from the concrete pump.




5 thoughts on “Paving a New Southbound I-65 Bridge Deck

  1. I liked your photos from yesterday with the bolts. Thanks for the back story, a lot of people don’t know what happens on major construction projes.

    We are in the process of building a bridge over the St. Croix Rive from Minnesota to Wisconsin. to replace a extremely old lift bridge from Stillwater MN.
    It has been held for like 10 years because of the left wing environmental wackos that do no not want to see any progress go forward. They would rather see us walk of ride bicycles. and ford the river in wood bottom boats. It literally took and act of congress to get it started. There delays have up the total cost by approximate 50%. They have just finished putting down the pilings.

    Really appericate the coverage you have done. Keep up the good work.

    Ron Burg

  2. Wonderful story of construction: love the football analogy! The photographs are marvelous additions to tell the story. As stand alones, the photographs are stunning!

    1. Thanks Ellen I’m pleased you think enough of my work to take time to comment. I’m happy to hear my analogy works too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.