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Field System Machining Completes Portable Bridge Machining Project at Illinois Rail Bridge

How old are our nation’s bridges? The rail crossing on the Illinois River at Morris, Illinois, was first erected in 1888. The 1888 bridge was replaced by a lift bridge in the 1930s. The rail line is abandoned just below the Illinois River, and trains that cross the bridge today serve only the heavy industrial sites just south of the Illinois River.

The 1930s EJ&E lift bridge #552 has the remarkable distinction of being smacked by navigation traffic 170 times between 1992 and 2001. The present lift span only allowed 120ft of clearance – a three barge-wide tow barely fit through the bridge. Thanks to the ARRA – American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009, $15m taxpayer dollars have been used to replace the 1930s bridge and to widen the bridge to 300ft.

Enter Field System Machining, a known player in the portable on-site machining of bridge erection and bridge modification challenges. The portable bridge machining project undertaken by FSM involved bridge on-site machining to bore and hone through 7in to 9in of steel, creating one smooth solid bore for the body bound coupling bolts that hold structural members in place. Bridge field machining projects are as different as the landscape surrounding the bodies of water the bridges cross. In situ bridge machining is a challenge we relish, time and time again. As is our custom, we completed this project early, and under budgeted estimates.

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