The Delaware Memorial Bridge has been on a 10-year paint cycle since it was built in 1951. This meant spot touchups and removal of surface rust in selected areas. The original paint contained lead-based paint. After more than 60-plus years of annual paint touchup, this was no longer a viable or fiscally sound way to proceed.
The four bridge towers, each over 440 feet tall, would need to be stripped down to white metal, coated with a zinc-rich primer and repainted. The job would require the towers to be completely scaffolded and encapsulated with impermeable tarps to prevent the lead paint and debris from entering the Delaware River and to protect the pedestrians who would still be using the bridge.
The allotted time frame for this project was two years from start to finish. John and Pete Korfiatis, owners of Blastech Enterprises Inc. based in Baltimore, teamed up with Excel Modular Scaffold Design Engineer Lance Smith to provide the scaffolding and engineering for the project. The challenge was to provide enough decking to allow continuous work with no delays or modifications of the scaffolding. The scaffold design on each tower rendered 64 total levels of scaffolding being erected on each tower simultaneously. Due to the strength and engineering of Excel’s scaffold system, 50 of the 64 levels were able to be decked at one time. This task required more than 60 skilled workers along with multiple foremen, safety officers, supervisors and a project manager working seven days a week to complete the project within this condensed time frame.
The following are some statistics from the work performed on the bridge:
• It was the first time the bridge tower had been completely stripped since it was constructed.
• Over 125,460 pounds of lead paint were removed and disposed of in a safe manner.
• Towers had over 70 mils of old paint to be removed.
• 4,272 gallons of new paint were applied.
• Complete scaffold of each tower with 64 levels and 50 decks installed per tower.
• Over 32 tractor trailer loads of Excel scaffold equipment from the Excel Modular Scaffold yard in Louisiana were on the job at one time.
• No delay caused by waiting for equipment or materials during the entire project.
• Over 60 people working on all four towers seven days a week.
• Over 70,000 man-hours worked with no recordable injuries.
• Scaffold was engineered and designed to withstand wind speeds up to 110 miles per hour.
• Custom overhead protection platform was designed to ensure commuters’ safe travel while the work was being performed.
• The entire job was completed within one paint season (10 months).
• In regard to the project’s budget, the engineer’s estimate was $14 million, the original contract was $12.9 million, and the final cost with COs was $13.5 million.
The project earned the 2015 American Society of Highway Engineers Delaware Chapter’s 6th Annual Project of the Year Award and the People’s Choice Award.
“The awards also would not have been achievable without the dedication and support of the DRBA police, the inspectors and engineering firm, WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, our vendors, Sherwin Williams and especially Excel Modular Scaffold,” said John Korfiatis, president of Blastech Enterprises.