Bridging the Infrastructure Gap in Virginia with Mi-Jack: GPS Steering and Travelift RTG Cranes 

January 4, 2024

Bridging the Gap with Mi-Jack: A Look at GPS Steering in Bridge Construction 

Virginia’s largest ever transportation infrastructure endeavor, the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion project, involved the use of two Mi-Jack Travelift RTG Cranes to ensure safe, quick, and reliable construction efforts. Home to 1.7 million residents, the largest Navy base in the world, and one of the major commercial shipping ports on the East Coast, this project resulted in expanding a 10-mile stretch of the I-64 corridor in the Norfolk and Hampton areas of Virginia, which now sees significantly improved traffic flow.

A 70-ton Travelift, equipped with GPS Steering, was used to lay bridge beams for constructing a temporary bridge, in 10’ increments, while the old bridge was being demolished. A 150-ton Travelift was used to move segmental precast pieces from the precast manufacturing facility to load trucks that delivered the segments to the bridge construction site. Since the workspace for the 70-ton Travelift allowed for only 6” of clearance on each side, and beyond those 6” was the Atlantic Ocean, GPS steering was necessary to allow the crane and its operator to safely construct the bridge.  

How does GPS Steering for Bridge Building Cranes Work? 

When equipped with GPS Steering, Travelift RTG cranes map a defined path for every 50-100 yards, ensuring the crane and operator can never deviate from the defined path. GPS steering is a customization that can be added to any Travelift RTG crane and is highly recommended for bridge building applications.  

Why Mi-Jack was Chosen for this Bridge Project  

Mi-Jack’s Travelift RTG cranes are highly distinguished from other crane manufacturers thanks to their reputation for safety, reliability, and efficiency. This project demanded a bridge-building crane with specialized steering capabilities, including GPS steering, lead wheel steering, and circle steering to ensure the equipment could be erected in a tight space, navigate through narrow aisleways to the job site, and then leverage GPS Steering for handling the 6” clearance on each side of the bridge. Without Mi-Jack’s GPS Steering, the project could have literally been in the water.   

The cranes were both rented and purchased for this project. Mi-Jack gives the flexibility to their customers to either rent or purchase cranes based on given scenarios. This is attractive for many bridge building projects. Not needing load charts or outriggers were also contributing factors to Mi-Jack being selected for this job, along with their inability to be overloaded due to their pressure release valves.  

Kyle Alfieri, Northeast Regional Sales Manager at Mi-Jack, said, “There tends to be a lot of moving parts when dealing with bridge replacement/rehabilitation, the concise direction from Mi Jack Engineering made this project not only possible but extremely efficient and safe…we put our heads together and came up with a great solution.”   

VDOT-HRBT Expansion Project

Despite the complexity of the Hampton Roads project, Mi-Jack’s Travelift RTG cranes proved instrumental in ensuring a swift and efficient completion within a remarkable eleven-month timeline. These cranes facilitated seamless construction over the bridge and demonstrated superior safety measures.  

Advantages of Using Travelift RTG Cranes for Bridge Construction Projects 

-Minimize (or even eliminate) lane closures around the construction zone by using Travelift to straddle traffic and operate within very narrow aisleways 

-Leverage GPS Steering to prevent deviations from the defined path despite narrow aisleways 

-More efficiently drive over bridges and construct bridges than traditional outrigger cranes  

-No need to worry about overloading the cranes, since there are no load release valves and no load charts that need to be referenced 

-Customizable for railway operations or projects by replacing the cranes’ rubber tires with rail wheels to suit whatever the endeavor demands 

-Consistently provides a more reliable approach to bridge construction as Mi-Jack Travelift cranes are ultimately faster, safer, cost-effective, and overall, the highest quality in the industry 

-Flexibility to rent or buy a Travelift for the project within the budgetary need 

-Train team representatives at the JJLSTA training center  

-Domestic and International outstanding cranes that can be relied on to finish the job 

Servicing Bridge Cranes  

Mi-Jack offers a warranty for their cranes, and has factory trained service professionals across the US along with a large domestic parts inventory.  

If the customer desires to have their own technicians trained on how to operate and maintain the equipment, Mi-Jack provides their own in-house training center, the John J Lanigan Sr. Training Academy (JJLSTA), which is named after their founder. At JJLSTA, their own techs can learn all of the mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic components, best practices, and maintenance requirements. Real machines and simulators are on site, as well as seasoned instructors. The course takes 3-4 days to complete, and the technicians come back with a wealth of knowledge and skills to help proactively maintain and repair the cranes proficiently.   

Alfieri adds, “Our goal is to provide the right solution for all of our customers. The right solution is not only the piece of equipment, but it also includes our support, service and guidance needed to achieve safety, reliability and efficiency for any given project.” 

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