Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc.

Balfour Beatty picBalfour Beatty Infrastructure leverages its expertise on two important projects in North Carolina.

By Chris Petersen

For decades, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc. has been known for tackling some of the most complex and challenging heavy civil projects in the United States, and the company continues to build on that reputation with a pair of projects in North Carolina. According to Operations Manager Jay Boyd, the company’s work on two bridge projects in environmentally sensitive areas demonstrate the skill and care with which the company approaches all of its work across the United States.

Established in 1990 as the American business of U.K.-based parent company Balfour Beatty plc, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure has had a hand in building some of the biggest and most complex infrastructure projects in North America, including State Highway 130 in Texas, one of the largest design/build public works projects in United States history. Over the years, the company has build up a portfolio that contains highways, bridges, tunnels, railways, and water and wastewater treatment plants. The company’s customer base consists primarily of government agencies at all levels.

For the company’s two most recent projects in North Carolina, Boyd says, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure has applied the same high level of skill it has utilized on all of its projects. However, because these two projects are located in areas with extensive environmental concerns, the company has had to go above and beyond its typical processes to get the jobs done. The fact that both projects remain on track is a testament to Balfour Beatty Infrastructure’s abilities and proof that the company is one of the best working in the civil market today.

Sensitive Work

In 2013, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure was awarded a $124 million contract to build the I-140 Wilmington Bypass, which involves the construction of three miles of four-lane highway in the southeast North Carolina counties of Brunswick and New Hanover, creating a bypass around the city of Wilmington. Although the overall length of the project is a relatively small, it includes 10 bridges,  eight of which are twin bridges. Balfour Beatty

Boyd says the company is in one of the final phases of the project right now, a 7,185-foot-long twin bridges over the Cape Fear River. According to Boyd, the construction of the bridge has required some very delicate work and extensive planning due to the fact that it spans an environmentally protected wetland area. Balfour Beatty Infrastructure self-performed all of the grading work leading up to the bridge, and employed some unusual techniques to build the bridge without disturbing the ecosystem in the river underneath.

The foundation of the bridge required 24-inch, 30-inch and 36-inch square concrete piles reaching 100 feet in length, which Boyd says are some of the largest square piles ever used by Balfour Beatty Infrastructure. In order to keep the work out of the water, the company utilized a specially built trestle alongside the bridge. Thanks in large part to the company’s expertise, the project is on track to be completed in time for the bridge to be re-opened to traffic in November 2017.

Bridging the Gap

Building a temporary work trestle alongside a bridge under construction also figures heavily into Balfour Beatty Infrastructure’s other current project in North Carolina. Earlier this year, the company was awarded a $54 million contract to build a new bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in Surf City, N.C.

The new bridge replaces a swing bridge that currently spans the waterway, which although is still functional requires a significant amount of maintenance and needs to open for commercial  vessels passing through the waterway. To alleviate the impact on highway traffic over the waterway, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure is building a new bridge with a 65-foot vertical clearance, removing the necessity to open the bridge for commercial vessels.

As in the case of the Wilmington Bypass project, Boyd says building the Surf City bridge project without disturbing the local ecosystem and protected wetlands has been a high priority. “The most challenging aspect of this project is definitely what we call the in-water moratorium, which means we’re not able to do any pile driving or extracting operations from April 1 to September 30 of any given year,” Boyd says.

That means Balfour Beatty Infrastructure is hard at work building the temporary work trestle that will serve as the staging area for the project. Boyd says the entire project will need to be accessed from the trestle, and 176 drilled shaft casings need to be installed before April 1. “The project is currently working double shifts six days a week to meet the schedule,” Boyd says.

Despite the aggressive schedules and extensive preparation required for both of these projects, Boyd says they fit very well within Balfour Beatty Infrastructure’s expertise. “The access requirements for these projects, which are related to trestles, are what we consider our specialties on the coast,” he says. 

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