Monumental Move

Jan 15, 2010

Ridgeland, MS is known for being upper class. The strip malls are coordinated to be all the same color, the local Home Depot and Wal-Mart are constructed of matching brick and, as Jud Parker puts it, “It’s a beautiful, beautiful community.”

Parker is the project manager for Barnhart Crane & Rigging and was recently in charge of a transportation project in Ridgeland that was unique on many levels.

Ridgeland is home to a 190-foot-tall replica of the Washington Monument that formerly sat near the local interstate. But this wasn’t a tourist spot, rather, it was a cell phone tower. After being in place for nearly 10 years, the Mississippi Department of Transportation needed it moved. The DOT wanted to put in a frontage road and the monument was in the way. Barnhart to the rescue.

Barnhart approached the job just like you would to move a home – they needed lifting beams put under the object so they had a point to lift from. The tower was a square-framed tower with four corners, so Barnhart put two beams on each side around the column, which equaled four beams underneath the tower, total, running in an east-to-west fashion. One set of beams was 64-feet-long and the other was 72-feet-long. “Basically what we built ourselves with that was a place to put our trailers under…”

The beams were reinforced with D-rings that were welded into the beam in the centerline of where the trailers were going to go, Parker explains, which gave Barnhart a tie-down point on the beam. “So, the beams were welded to the column leg of the tower and then you had the trailers underneath the beams at a center point and then we had [32] half-inch rigging chains securing the beams to the trailers,” he says. “That’s what gave us the fixed, sure attachment.”

Barnhart then used Goldhofer PST/E self-propelled trailers to transport the 190-foot replica. “They’re the top of the line Goldhofer trailers available,” Parker says. “They feature round steer and we had to do some turns – it wasn’t a straight shot from point A to point B, we had to go through a 60-degree turn.”

The tower weighed approximately 120,000 pounds, making it a light lift, and with the beams the entire lift came in at about 200,000 pounds. The entire move lasted only an hour and 45 minutes, Parker says. “The customer had actually fashioned a new foundation at the new location for us, had the bolts projected through the concrete, so we started moving at 7:15 a.m. and at 9 a.m. we were over their anchor bolts and then it took us about 15 minutes to start lowering and make the bolts flush,” he says. “By 9:30 a.m., we were hard-down on their foundations.”

What sounds like a run-of-the-mill job was actually quite a new experience for Barnhart. “I’ve never moved a cell tower before,” Parker says. “And that was the tallest thing we ever moved.”

The tower was made of galvanized steel, which is quite unusual for a cell phone tower, but also which made it easier to move, Parker says. “You couldn’t pick up any old cell tower with four legs and move it because its integrity [angle-type and channel-type steel] is not structurally sound enough to attempt moving it.”

One small challenge, Parker notes, was a 2 percent downhill grade Barnhart had to be cautious in driving down. “To keep it all level, we used a very rudimentary water level,” he says.

Parker went to Home Depot and asked a sales associate for 100 feet of inch and a quarter clear flexible hose. “He looked at me like I was crazy,” Parker laughs. “We filled it with Kool-Aid and made a water level.”

A job well done in the end; Ridgeland gets its pristine monument moved and Barnhart gets a new record in its books for its tallest piece ever transported – with the aid of some sugary drink to boot.

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