When the Voyageur Country ATV club formed in 2015, one of its main goals was to connect a series of riding trails in St. Louis County, Minnesota. To do so, the club would need to find a way to cross the Vermilion River. A big problem called for a big solution—namely a 185-foot-long, 13-foot-wide, 80-ton bridge, and the right equipment to lift it. The project’s remote location made it a difficult job to complete, but we were up to the task.
When construction company Bougalis and Sons won the contract to manage the job, they quickly turned to us for the crane work. With a location in Hibbing and support from our headquarters in Rosemount, we were one of the few companies in northern Minnesota with large, hydraulic all-terrain cranes capable of getting to the job site. We also had the experience and expertise to design the lift. Mark Tollefson, our project manager and estimator, developed a plan to assemble the bridge on one side of the river and complete a “hand-to-hand” tandem pick with cranes positioned on both banks. The bridge was cantilevered over the river using our 550-ton crane with a Mega Wing and 352,000-pounds of counterweight, where it could be connected to our 450-ton crane with 297,000-pounds of counterweight on the other side. Once both cranes were connected to the bridge it could finally be set in place.
With no cell phone service and miles from the nearest paved roads, the remote location made for a unique challenge. Crews from Bougalis and Sons had to clear approximately four miles of road on one side of the river and eight miles on the other in order to get the cranes into position. Without the ability to speak by phone to various crews, advanced planning and communication was critical to ensuring a safe and successful project. Amazingly, the bridge assembly and installation were completed within 24 hours. ATV enthusiasts can now enjoy one of the most scenic riding trails in the country for years to come.