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Hirschfeld Industries Participates in AREMA Meeting Tours Galveston Bridge Project

Dr. Karl Frank contributes to industry discussion and reviews Hirschfeld project

Galveston Island, TX (January 29, 2013) – Hirschfeld Industries, an active member of the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) attended a recent Committee 15 meeting. Committee 15 – Steel Structures discusses recommended practices and information relating to the design, fabrication, erection and painting of steel railway bridges. The meeting, held in Galveston Island also included a tour, hosted by BNSF, of a recently completed railway bridge specifically chosen to illustrate the complexity of this particular project.


Galveston Bridge
The alteration of the Galveston Causeway Railroad Bridge provides a 382 ft clear span and 125 feet tall main lifting towers to expand movement for commercial vessels traveling the causeway and freight rail over the bridge. Hirschfeld Industries provided over 740 tons of steel to build the towers and lifted section. The $97.7 million project, funded from various sources including federal funding, Truman-Hobbs, ARRA, BNSF, UPRR, the city of Galveston and more, began in 2010 and completed in late 2012.

The original causeway was built from 1909-1912 and was 125 ft. in length, used over 2 millions pounds in movable steel and cost over $6.7 million to create. Following this recent project, the original Galveston railway bridge was repurposed and replaced a 99-year-old swing bridge over the Petaluma River in Sonoma, Calif. The bridge was purchased for $4.2 million and shipped to California by rail, then refurbished and reassembled on new supports for an additional $16 million.

The BNSF guided tour consisted of 60 committee members, including Hirschfeld’s own Dr. Karl Frank, and Bill Conway, the principal in charge of the bridge design from Modjeski and Masters. M&M utilized the late William G. (Bill) Byers’ concept of bolted lower chords that could be easily replaced in the event of a ship collision. Dr. Frank commented about the Galveston Causeway Railroad Bridge, “The quick operation and movement of the 382 ft. vertical lift span is remarkable. To move nearly 3 million pounds of steel a dozen cycles per day points to the sophistication of the controls and accuracy of fabrication and construction. That’s a big piece of steel that moves precisely, quickly and often. This is precision machinery.”

Now, approximately 10 to 15 trains cross the bridge daily and on average, 1,500 vessels pass under the open bridge monthly, making this bridge one of the busiest in the state of Texas.

About Hirschfeld Industries
Hirschfeld Industries serves a wide range of end markets including transportation infrastructure, industrial development, commercial construction and power generation. With 11 facilities and over 900 employees providing a national presence and industry-leading footprint, Hirschfeld Industries is a major participant in the expansion and redevelopment of the U.S. transportation and energy infrastructure systems, both government-funded and private enterprises.


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