Fort Hood's House Creek Bridge project reaches major milestone

Published Sept. 14, 2016
Crane operators complete the placement of a concrete beam which is part of the 350-foot bridge that will span House Creek in Fort Hood, Texas.

Crane operators complete the placement of a concrete beam which is part of the 350-foot bridge that will span House Creek in Fort Hood, Texas.

A major milestone was reached with the installation of 15 beams which make up the bulk of the bridge over Fort Hood’s House Creek on Sep. 8.

With each beam measuring 116 feet in length, truckers had to meticulously back their rigs down a slope to put them into place where two crane operators would then hoist them into their final position. Any wrong move from the driver could cause undue stress on the long beams causing them to be unfit for operation. With the truck finally in position, the next phase began.

During this phase, crane operators took their cues from the ground guide below them much like the way a musician in an orchestra responds to the motions of its conductor to get the beam from the truck into position over the creek.

The ground guide motioned with hands raised over his head for each operator to maneuver his end of the beam from the rig up into position overlooking the creek. The beam was then guided into position by a crewmember, while another crewmember was in overwatch, checking on the safety of the one setting the beam in place. This slow, methodical procedure was repeated for each beam placed into position.

“Safety is very important to us during all phases of this project,” said Andrew Bury, resident engineer at the Corps of Engineers’ Central Texas Area Office.

The Design-Build project, with its notice to proceed in November 2014, is for the replacement of four existing culverts that cross House Creek with a bridge designed to handle a 100-year rain event. The bridge will connect the main cantonment area of Fort Hood with the training areas and ranges on the west side of the installation.

“The bridge will be able to handle nearly any vehicle in the Army’s inventory, including the Abrams tank, weighing in at nearly 62 metric tons,” said John Burrow, Fort Hood’s Directorate of Public Works, chief of engineering.

With a span of 350 feet and measuring 30 feet high, the bridge and associated low water crossings will provide better access to the training areas, according to Burrow.

The low water crossing area will be the main route for tactical vehicles conducting training, while other vehicles including privately owned vehicles will use the bridge. However, tactical vehicles can use the bridge during high water events such as flash floods which are not too infrequent in this part of Texas.

According to Bury, each beam weighs approximately 60 tons, is 70 inches high and 116 feet long. Five beams will be placed along the width of the bridge, and will require three sections to span the length of the creek.

“We are extremely pleased that we have reached this milestone in the project. None of this could have happened without the teamwork and cooperation of our customer, the Fort Hood installation’s DPW and our construction team,” said Bury.

Barring any significant rain delays, the Corps’ CTAO resident engineer expects the project to be completed by December.

With beam number 11 in place on this hot, windy central Texas morning, the next rig on cue, inched its way slowly down the hill into position with beam number 12.