Boh Bros. Construction resumed construction Nov. 3 on the $803-million Interstate 10 Twin Spans outside of New Orleans. Work had stopped following a fatal accident Oct. 30.
“They were given the green light to go back to work today for all field operations except for the form overhang process,” says Mark Lambert, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
A full report about what happened isn’t available yet, but Boh Bros. has provided a basic description. While a crew was tied off to a 135-ft.-long concrete girder beam and setting the overhang form for the bridge deck, apparently, the concrete girder beam rotated off the concrete support caps, says Robert Boh, president. The beam fell about 30 ft. into Lake Pontchartrain, which is an estimated 8 to 10 ft. deep in that area.
The accident killed Eric T. Blackmon, 44, the crew foreman and an 11-year veteran of the comopany. Three other workers were admitted to area hospitals and suffered minor injuries and were released that same night. “They were all in harnesses and life vests,” says a Boh company spokeswoman.
After an initial assessment, Boh released a statement Friday, indicating that the contractor determined that “all safety procedures were followed,” the spokeswoman says. “The DOTD reviewed all safety plans and approved Boh going back to the work site. However, we are not resuming work on that outside girder area where the accident happened until the investigation is over and we can be certain it doesn’t happen again.”
Boh Bros. is revising procedures for the form overhang process and will make a proposal to the DOTD, Lambert says. “We would have to approve any proposals before they can go back and work on that particular process.”
Boh has been working from both the south and north shore of the lake toward the center and the other contractor’s project. The accident occurred on span S121W, which is about 2.6 miles from the south shore (New Orleans side) of Lake Pontchartrain.
Neither the DOTD nor Boh would comment on whether the girder was a temporary placement for the form hanging or part of the permanent structure. OSHA won’t comment until an investigation is completed within the next six months.
La. DOTD is conducting its own investigation. Boh Bros. holds a $379 million contract for the 4.5-mile low-rise portions of the bridge. The westbound span of the new bridge is scheduled to be open by October 22, 2009 and the eastbound span by August 3, 2011.
The joint venture of Traylor Bros. Inc. of Evansville, Ind., Kiewit Southern Company of Peachtree City, Ga. and Massman Construction Co. of Kansas City, Mo. holds the $166.6 million contract for the hump portion of the bridges.
“Right now, we are ahead of schedule on the job,” Lambert says. “The schedule is secondary to the safety of the people who are out there. We are not going to rush anything just to meet a schedule.”