Engineering News Record (ENR) recently named Alan Barnhart, owner and president of Barnhart Crane and Rigging, a “Top 25 Newsmaker” for his leadership of a company that successfully handled an extremely challenging project in Seattle last spring.

Barnhart  planned and executed the transporting, hoisting and assembling of the world’s largest tunnel boring machine (TBM), designed to bore out the new Alaskan Way Viaduct. Nicknamed Bertha, the firm was charged with handling her 41 individual pieces—the largest weighing 850 tons—from a freighter docked at the Port of Seattle, 500 yards across port property and then 80 feet into the launch pit.

According to an article in ENR, Alan Barnhart knew that it would have been “absolutely catastrophic” if his crews damaged even one part of the 7,000-ton, 57.5-ft-diameter drill.

It was a touchy operation, but Barnhart Crane did it all without incident last May, and precision was the key. “It took a lot of work in pre-planning,” says Barnhart. “It was a major effort, and our engineering department put in thousands of hours.”

Individuals are chosen by Engineering News-Record editors who look through the stories that have appeared in ENR and select individuals for special recognition. There are no applications to review or interviews to schedule.  Editors select candidates because they made a difference for the industry and the public.

Barnhart, 53, has worked at the business his parents started in 1969 since he was 10 years old.   He and the other winners will be honored at ENR’s annual gala in New York City on April 3rd.

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Last week’s polar vortex dominated the headlines.  The weather phenomenon with the catchy, ominous name caused brutally cold weather that set records across the entire country.

This arctic air mass also caused extreme temperature inversions. According to The Huffington Post, on Monday, January 6, Memphis was 20 degrees colder than Anchorage; Atlanta was colder than Moscow; and Nashville was colder than Albany.

The extreme cold made some people lose their common sense, as evidenced by the faddish trick of throwing boiling water into the air to watch it freeze and turn into snow.

While for some it worked, for others, it resulted in burns from being scalded.  The trick, and its intended and unintended consequences, was so popular that many news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, reported on it.

Continue reading

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One of the downsides of holiday travel –  in addition to crowded airports, long lines, snow delays, crying children and generally grouchy people – is that even once you’re on the plane, you’re not done. After you dodge getting whacked in the head by an overhead bag, you still have to watch the mandatory in-flight safety video.

Does anyone pay attention to these messages?  After all, don’t we all know about the yellow oxygen masks that automatically appear, the designated exit rows, and the flotation devices under your seat?  Or do we?

To fight this tendency of passengers to drift off as soon as the doors are closed, Delta Airlines has been coming up with creative videos to make their safety message more entertaining.

This year’s holiday in-flight safety video is an all-out effort to keep passengers engaged, crammed with sight gags and cameos from Scrooge, the Nutcracker and…. well, we won’t spoil it for you.  Watch it yourself and see if you don’t smile.

Delta says the holiday-themed video will be shown on more than 160 of its aircraft into early January.

Barnhart Crane appreciates the effort Delta took to make their passengers conscious of safety.  After all, safety is one of our values.   “We invest all resources necessary to ensure the safety and protection of our people, property and environment of our company, customers, vendors and general public.”

Perhaps this is not quite as entertaining a safety presentation as Delta’s video, but the underlying message is the same.

So this holiday season, be safe.  Smile.  Delight in your family and friends.  And don’t forget the true meaning of the season.  Happy holidays!

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No matter what your college loyalties might be, if you’re a football fan, you were likely mesmerized by the Iron Bowl last weekend.

This annual clash of football titans Alabama and Auburn is one the biggest rivalries in sports.  But at number one and number four, they were also two of the best teams in the country.  Plus, Auburn’s Phoenix-like rise from a 3-9 record in 2012 and a 49-0 drubbing in last year’s Iron Bowl to a 10-1 record entering this year’s Iron Bowl added to the drama.  Throw in their “Immaculate Deflection”against Georgia a few weeks ago and Auburn had the best comeback story of 2012.

Still, no one expected them to beat recent three-time national champion Alabama.  Not Lee Corso.  Or Kirk Herstreit.  Or Paul Finebaum. Continue reading

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Yesterday was election day, but since it was an off-year, there were few races across the country.  Therefore, those few in New Jersey, Virginia, Alabama and New York City garnered plenty of attention.

Elections underscore our freedom of choice.  We have a right to choose our candidate. It’s a freedom of choice our customers have as well. They don’t have to choose us.  Like politicians, we constantly have to prove we’re worthy of their vote (or business).  We have to earn it.

Barnhart recently completed a project to lift and rough set four vessels of varying weights and sizes at a Texas petrochemical complex. The smallest vessel weighed 150,000 pounds and the largest was 1.7 million pounds. The vessel heights ranged from 92 feet up to 219 feet. Continue reading

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Recently, Barnhart made the Engineering News-Record’s list of Top 600 Specialty Contractors for 2013 ranked at number 45. That honor means it was a good year for Barnhart. Companies are ranked according to revenue from 2012.

That good news seems to be reflected across the industry. According to the ENR Report, “signs of a market turnaround are evident for many large firms. Revenues are up, and generally, markets are returning to health.”   Continue reading

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In a recent article on website North American Wind Power, author John Clark cites statistics from the American Wind Energy Association that nearly $40 billion worth of wind installations in the U.S. came out of warranty in 2011.  Another 50% of the country’s wind turbine generator fleet is behind in original equipment manufacturer (OEM)-recommended maintenance schedules.

Wind turbines, generally located in wide-open, stormy places where Mother Nature takes her toll, operate under tremendous stress and beg for a regular maintenance plan to achieve the life expectancy of the fleet.  Author Clark, president of Signal Energy Construction, a subsidiary of Barnhart, warns of a looming crisis. Continue reading

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An ambitious hauling project was big news in Tennessee in August.  Barnhart was involved in transporting a mammoth absorption column, 14 feet in diameter and 140 feet long, from Knoxville to the U.S. Nitrogen plant site in Greenville, Tenn.

The project started in 2012 in Lake Charles, La. where the 330,000 lb. column was loaded to a barge and transported to a terminal in Knoxville.  There, Barnhart did a roll-off using a THP trailer configuration.   The column was offloaded with gantries.

Then the column sat in the terminal for a year, while the necessary plans were made to safely transport it to the plant site. Continue reading

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Marble wall at the Flight 93 Memorial. Photo: The Patriot News

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States that took 3,000 innocent lives. While the impact of that horrific event has lessened over the years, the images and accounts are unforgettable.

Of the many stories to emerge from that day, none was so heart-rending as the plight of United Airlines Flight 93. Scheduled to depart from Newark at 8:00 a.m, the plane was delayed a crucial 41 minutes. This allowed the 40 highjacked crew and passengers to learn of the attacks underway, to band together, and make the decision to intervene. Due to their heroic efforts, the plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa. instead of its presumed target, the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In 2002, George W. Bush signed the Flight 93 Memorial Act into law, creating a new national park on the site to commemorate the crew and passengers on the flight. But an undertaking of this scale required a massive fundraising effort.

Over the years, as fundraising benchmarks were reached, makeshift memorials on the site made way for permanent monuments, including a $62 million marble wall of honor, consisting of 40 separate panels 10 feet in height, each inscribed with a single name. Since 9/11, some 2 million people have made pilgrimage to this sacred site.

This week, 11 years after the law, the National Parks Foundation announced that it had reached its $40 million fundraising goal to complete the memorial.  The final phase of construction will create a visitor center and a 93-foot “Tower of Voices” containing 40 wind chimes, each representing a person lost in the crash.  More than 110,000 individuals, foundations and corporations contributed to the fund.

On this day, Barnhart honors the spirit of those 40 crew and passengers, and the goodwill of those who, through their philanthropy, banded together to make sure they were not forgotten.

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A recent article on, describes the “23 Things Everyone Believes that Have Been Disproven by MythBusters.” Here are just a few goodies.

Dropping a penny off the side of the Empire State Building could kill someone. No, it couldn’t. A penny is not big enough or dense enough to do this, even factoring in the distance it would fall.

You could pick up radio stations and phone calls on an old tooth filling.  No, a tooth filling will not act as an antenna.

Quicksand sucks you underground until you die. This is an invention of the movies and our imaginations, fortunately. Real quicksand would be even more buoyant than sand.

You could destroy someone’s car by putting sugar in the gas tank.   Continue reading

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