Barnhart Addresses Critical Infrastructure Needs


August 28, 2017

Barnhart Crane & Rigging Company, Memphis, Tenn., has completed miter gate replacement at the Meldahl Lock and Dam. It’s the third similar project the company has completed since last September, where Barnhart applied both traditional and non-traditional methods to repair lock gates.

According to Jeff Latture, senior vice president, traditional repair work implies the use of a floating crane. “Non-traditional work refers to rigging methods to lift gates without a crane,” he said. “Instead, we use a structural system across the gate walls to perform the main lift.”

The company said non-traditional methods could be crucial as a consideration in long-term planning for a couple of key reasons. “As funding for many of these waterways and civil infrastructure projects becomes a reality, traditional equipment resources, such as cranes and barge cranes, might become scarce,” the company noted in its monthly newsletter. “Also, depending upon the scope of the waterways infrastructure project, in some cases, using non-traditional methods could be a safer option and provide lower overall costs.”

The company said that in both cases, project planners simply do not consider the non-traditional options because they are usually less familiar with those methods. So, like many other things, unfamiliarity can often breed contempt or at least fear, it said. “Despite the potential upside of their use, non-traditional options are not often seriously considered,” noted the company.

Traditional And Non-Traditional Projects
Completed in June, work at Meldahl Lock and Dam at Mile 436 on the Ohio River near Felicity, Ohio, involved traditional repair methods. According to Evan Bradley, a project manager who has been with Barnhart for six years, the lock and dam had two outages. At first, the Corps attempted to replace both sets of miter gates themselves, but unexpected issues pushed the project in another direction.

“There was a strong effort by our Knoxville and Mobile branches to remove the gates at this lock,” said Latture. “The gates were ‘tailed’ with the transport barge after being removed and then were sent for scrap.”

Bradley said Barnhart was asked to help the Corps recover the gate and install both sets using a traditional approach. “We replaced the south end gates earlier this year, and then we did the north gates in June,” he said. “We used a high-capacity barge crane for this specific project.”

Prior to work on Meldahl, Barnhart worked on the Greenup Lock and Dam at Greenup, Ky., on the Ohio River. “Again, we used a more traditional route with this project and brought in a barge crane with a very large capacity,” said Bradley. “One of our cranes, an LR1300 with a 403-ton capacity, just so happened to be the right fit for the job.”

According to Bradley, the crane actually has two capacities—one for land and a reduced capacity for operation on a barge. “It’s a huge cost savings for the Corps to keep a crane on a barge,” he added. “We use this crane on a monthly basis for various projects up and down the river. It’s great for miter gate replacements, but can be a challenge if the river level is too high, which it was during the Greenup project.”

Out of the three projects, Selden Lock and Dam’s gate replacement project was the only one to be approached using the non-traditional rigging method without the use of a crane.

Bradley said the site was not conducive for a barge crane or land crane, so Barnhart set a rigging system directly onto the lock walls. “It didn’t require a large crane, which would have been difficult to manage due to the access and height limitations,” he said. “More importantly, we were able to supply a variety of options for the Corps to choose from, which included barge cranes and land cranes, too.”

Bradley said the Corps ultimately went with the non-traditional method and used existing structures to complete the project with Barnhart. “We worked around what was already there,” he said. “It saved a lot of time and it was a lot less to deal with on the back end. If we had done the project by land, we would have had to figure out what to do with everything once the project was completed and restore the land back to its original conditions or leave it the way it was. This method eliminated that and it also saved a lot of money.”

A part of Barnhart’s strategy is to give customers alternative ways to complete projects, according to Bradley. “This makes projects more cost effective and allows everyone to think outside of the box more,” he said. “We can supplement the customer’s plan or plug in our equipment.”

Barnhart Crane was founded in 1969 in Memphis as a small, family-owned business. While still a family-run company, Barnhart has grown to be one of the largest heavy lift and heavy transport companies in the United States, with more than 40 locations across the country.