Ahead Of The Game: Delivering The RK-23C Project Four Months Ahead Of Schedule

RK-23C Project
New connector ramp (above) between RFK Bridge (background) and Harlem River Drive northbound.

As the lead designer on the Judlau Design-Build Team for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, we delivered design innovations for the RK-23C Design-Build Project that avoided high-risk buried oil-static lines, reduced the overall costs, simplified the construction sequence and schedule, and allowed the project to be completed one month ahead of an aggressive schedule and four months earlier than the original project schedule estimated in the RFP.

The project included the design and construction of a new 13-span connector ramp to carry traffic from the Harlem River lift span of the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Bridge to northbound Harlem River Drive. The new ramp provides a direct connection between these major arteries, allowing traffic from Queens to continue undisrupted to all points north of the RFK Bridge. We led and coordinated the analysis and design work with support from half a dozen consultants while working closely with the contractor to meet all of the Authority’s project goals.

The work involved the design of new piles, columns, superstructure, drainage, roadway lighting, sign structures, and appurtenances. The new connector ramp incorporates bespoke architectural details, such as vertical flutes at the top of hammerhead piers, back-of-parapet geometric rustications, Art Deco–style lampposts, and stainless-steel New York State medallions. Bridge-lighting features complement the new ramp elements, providing an inviting entrance from the adjacent neighborhood to the shoreline, where, in the future, a new park will be constructed by New York City. The construction was staged using intermittent day and night lane closures and maintenance- and protection-of-traffic plan that created a safe work zone along the Harlem River Drive median without reducing the parkway’s capacity in either direction during the day. The construction of the new pier foundations south of the Willis Avenue Bridge (also a Parsons project) required close communication with city agencies, such as the New York City Department of Transportation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, for the modification of the existing stormwater drainage system.

Working closely with Judlau and the Authority through the ATC process, we optimized the tender design, eliminated a pier and a span, and redesigned the structural layout to avoid potential conflicts with existing underground high-voltage lines present at the Harlem River Drive median. Our design also converted a straddle pier into a conventional hammerhead pier.

For New Yorkers and visitors to New York, this redesign and construction mean a savings of 150,000 hours of total travel time per year, a reduction of 2,500 tons of CO2 equivalent per year, and a significant drop in air and noise pollution in the surrounding communities.

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