Enerpac Logo
Sign In

Jack Up System Lifts 1,500-ton Span on Fore River Bridge




Massachusetts, USA


No one would call the temporary bridge that was constructed in 2002 over the Fore River between Quincy and Weymouth, Mass., a work of art. The bridge replaced a 1936 Art Deco gem when it could no longer safely carry the 32,000 cars that cross the river each weekday.

Despite being safe, the temporary "Erector set" bridge seemed a bit rickety to some local residents. The bridge is being replaced with a $272 million steel vertical lift bridge that will smooth traffic flow and reduce wait times by opening and closing in half the time compared to the temporary bridge during good weather.

Due to its improved horizontal channel clearance from 175 feet to 250 feet when raised, larger ships will be able to pass beneath the new bridge, providing better access to the Fore River's Designated Port Area (DPA). At 60 feet clearance in its lower position, most sailboats can also sail underneath the bridge without the need for raising the lift span, simultaneously improving both vehicle and boat traffic.

Challenges involved with the project included building a bridge that would function well in cold and/or windy weather with minimal maintenance upon completion, and minimal disruption to vehicle and boat traffic during construction. Safety, as always, was a primary concern, particularly while lifting incredibly heavy loads into place from barges.


The design/build team White-Skanska-Koch was selected to build the new, permanent, Fore River Bridge. Burkhalter Rigging Inc., of Columbus, Miss., was selected to lift the 1,500-ton lift span into place. The expected life span of the new bridge is 75 years.

Although familiar with Enerpac products, Burkhalter officials asked for help in selecting the best system to do the lift safely and correctly. The companies have a unique relationship with many points of contact, from owner Delynn Burkhalter, to project managers and engineers.

"Both companies work really well together to find the best solutions with the customer's goals in mind," said Mike Beres, Americas Sales Leader for Integrated Solutions, Enerpac. "When they determine what they need, they’ll ask us, ‘Can you do something like this?’ And we talk to get a quote we can both live with."

Enerpac is known for digging into project details to ensure the end product is built to the customer’s specifications. Burhalter needed to build jack-up towers next to the existing towers, then lift the towers 20 meters into place from barges under the bridge.

Enerpac’s jack-up system is a custom-developed multi-point lifting system. A typical system includes four jack-up towers positioned under each corner of a load. The four-tower setup has a lifting capacity of 2,000 metric tons (500 metric tons per tower).

The lifting frame of each jack-up tower contains four hydraulic cylinders in each corner, which lift and stack steel boxes measuring 1 meter high x 6.5' x 6.5'. A load is lifted in increments as boxes are inserted via an automated system, lifted, and stacked, forming the lifting towers.

Built in the Netherlands, the Jack-Up System went by ship to Boston, where it was inspected to ensure it was in good shape. When it was time to set up the system, an Enerpac support crew and an electrical engineer were on site to ensure the lift went smoothly and stayed on schedule.

"We provided customer training and made sure Burkhalter had everything on hand to be successful," said Beres. "We always offer initial training at the factory or on site – whatever makes the most sense for our customer."

Despite challenges including potential storms, general bad weather and working on moving water affected by two high tides and two low tides every 24 hours, the lift went off without a hitch. Burkhalter raised the lift span 20 meters from the barge and floated it into place at almost exactly the correct height.

"Timing was critical as the Coast Guard indicated the lift time frame, because the river was closed to shipping during the lift window," said Beres. "Everything went perfectly with the lift, and the lift was on time to minimize river traffic disruption."


Jack-Up System