Bridges and tunnels are a key sector for E-J Electric Installation Co., Long Island City, N.Y. Recently, the company installed LED lighting for the newly constructed Kosciuszko Bridge, which spans 1.1 miles over Newtown Creek between Brooklyn and Queens. The company also renovated the lighting and ventilation system for the Queens-Midtown tunnel. These two projects showcase E-J Electric’s Electric Roadwork & Outdoor Specialty Division.
The Kosciuszko Bridge project is the largest design/build job that the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has ever awarded. The bridge is 75 years old, and simply renovating the aging structure would not have been enough to meet the needs of growing vehicle traffic. Instead, construction crews had to replace the existing truss bridge with two cable-stayed bridges and two towers that hold the bridge-deck support cables, said David Ferguson, vice president, Roadwork & Outdoor Specialty Division, E-J Electric. The new structure operates three lanes in each direction, and the second bridge also will feature a pedestrian lane.
This new cable bridge is the first of its kind for New York, and few members of the general or subcontractors had worked on a structure like it. Strict NYSDOT requirements dictated the materials that could be used, and coordination between all of the trades was a challenge. Furthermore, the traffic flow on the existing expanse had to be maintained.
General contractor Skanska-Kiewitt-Ecco III, Yonkers, N.Y., brought E-J Electric onboard to install the power for all services in addition to roadway lighting, bridge lighting, intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and a new traffic signal.
E-J Electric got on-site to build the electrical system for the first bridge in January 2015. The project included installation of 168 Philips Color Kinetics fixtures on the two pylon footings as well as another 60 behind the barrier. It also included a lighting-management system.
E-J Electric ran approximately 15,000 feet of power cable and 5,000 feet of control cable, and, for aesthetic purposes, the contractor placed them inside the barrier and pylons. The company also installed new light poles and LED luminaires on nearby streets in Brooklyn and Queens.
E-J Electric crews built in traffic and pedestrian signals at several major intersections within the project limits, running approximately 10,000 feet of traffic-signal cable overhead and underground. In addition, the project required a complete fiber ITS network connecting Brooklyn and Queens. It included traffic cameras, remote traffic microwave sensors (RTMS) and travel time data.
For full-system redundancy, E-J Electric provided two complete power services from each side. The contractor also installed two nondirectional beacons required by the Federal Aviation Administration on the pylons and six navigation lights over the creek.
A total of 30 electricians were on-site at peak. Until the roadways met the bridge, they typically used 125-foot lifts or stair towers to access their work. Spider lifts were installed in both pylons for lighting installations.
Because of access and safety concerns, the electricians had to be certified to do traffic work, including fiber splicing and boom truck operation, as well as trained in fall protection.
When finished, NYSDOT will operate the bridge’s system. Under a separate contract with the agency, E-J Electric maintains the ITS in all five boroughs.
New York Gov. Cuomo unveiled the new bridge lights at the New York Harbor of Lights event in May.
The 6,000-foot-long Queens-Midtown Tunnel (QMT) has undergone a complete rehabilitation following Superstorm Sandy in 2012. With 40 percent of the tunnel submerged under 12 million gallons of corrosive salt water, the tunnel’s damage from that storm was significant. Once drained, the tunnel needed new LED lights and emergency wayfinding safety lights as well as wall tiles, curbs, catwalks, road repaving and more.
Tens of thousands of cars pass through the tunnel daily. New York City couldn’t afford any downtime for motorists during the rebuilding process. As with the Kosciuszko Bridge, maintaining traffic and systems continuity was a key challenge.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Bridges and Tunnels awarded the contract to Judlau Contracting Inc., College Point, N.Y., which brought in E-J Electric for electrical construction for the $236.6-million project to repair the damage.
E-J Electric initially mobilized on the project in July 2015, preparing for a four-year completion in July 2019.
The project was unusual from the start. Contractors didn’t know what they would find once they started cutting into walls constructed in 1940. Unsurprisingly, the team found that considerable renovation work was necessary. Salt water had damaged the electrical and communication equipment, so E-J Electric’s task was to build in new LED lighting, emergency wayfinding safety lights, traffic monitoring, CCTV and lane-usage sensors.
In addition, the fresh air duct and exhaust air duct, directly above and below the roadway, had both been damaged by the sea water. The code-call system for warning of emergencies in the tunnel’s confined spaces was inoperable, Ferguson said. Also, many ducts were clogged with debris.
With modern equipment and modular redundancy, the new all-fiber-optic electrical network would far outshine the previous version, Ferguson said.
The contracting team made the renovation a design/build project to better manage their limited time and space. Traffic had to be accommodated, so the work was done at night, and the team had no staging area for equipment or construction vehicles.
E-J Electric was involved in almost every aspect of the planning phase, including building the critical path method (CPM) schedule and planning construction phases with the GC. The company proposed and designed alternative engineering and installation methodologies to bring the latest in power and communication technology to the tunnel, such as line-voltage lighting control.
Already constrained by space and traffic issues, the work needed to be done faster than planned. Early in the project, the MTA asked for a plan to shorten the project build. As part of that effort, E-J Electric worked with the GC and other trades to value-engineer, propose alternative installation methodologies, and custom design and build equipment. This included employing a platform light truck dubbed “the Unicorn,” which increased crew productivity. The company also installed a new uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system for emergency lighting.
While the team found the tunnel’s exhaust fans, located in the ducts, didn’t need to be replaced, E-J Electric was responsible for ensuring emergency systems and power were in place to operate the fans if needed. These fans automatically initiate during an emergency (such as a car fire) to ventilate the tunnel. They are so powerful that, if a person were in the duct, the fans could lift him or her off of the ground, Ferguson said.
The fans tie directly to a code-call system that E-J Electric installed. The code-call system provides visible and audible alarms alerting anyone in the ducts that the fans will start within a certain timeframe upon the emergency trigger.
At peak, 40 E-J Electric electricians were on-site. During the project, all crews were bused into the tunnel every night and out again in the morning. Each day was its own unique mobilization and demobilization challenge, Ferguson said. The tunnel had to be left in operating condition each morning, meaning no material, tools or equipment remained on the job site.
E-J Electric installed a transition zone and main roadway lighting, totaling 2,032 fixtures and 465,000 feet of cable. Duct lighting took another 286,000 feet of cable and 423 fixtures.
The company also installed the fire alarm system with 65,000 feet of cable, two panels and 57 pull stations. For security, it ran 6,600 feet of cable to serve 65 CCTV cameras. The company ran cable for the video management system, telephone system with a network of 50 telephone stations, and 100,000 feet of cable for 626 emergency lighting fixtures.
E-J Electric supplied the emergency system, consisting of 217,000 feet of cable, control panels, 213 fixtures and 85 horns. The full network backbone and integration to the MTA system included 350,000 feet of fiber, data and copper cable, and the company installed two 130-kilovolt-ampere UPS systems.
The tunnel lighting is managed by an advanced lighting control system and includes a redundant backup system tied to the newly installed UPS system and client generator backups.
“The vicinity of the job site, the security credentials, the type of work, the working hours, the safety protocols and specialized equipment requires additional training for anyone on the job site,” Ferguson said.
These two projects demonstrate the level of collaboration, ingenuity, and expertise that such infrastructure projects require, and E-J Electric has acquired two significant works for its portfolio to prove that, when it comes to keeping Americans moving, it’s up to the challenge.