November's Big Builds
November has historically been an exciting month for the construction sector, with a wide range of big projects both started and completed through the years.
Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge
Most commonly known as the Rainbow Bridge, this 4-lane road traffic bridge is a world-famous tourist site that spans across the Niagara River to connect the cities of Niagara Falls, New York (US) and Niagara Falls, Ontario (CA). The bridge is open to domestic vehicles, pedestrians and bikers, but no commercial trucks.
Opened on November 1st, 1941, the steel arch structure was built to replace the Honeymoon Bridge which had collapsed in 1938. The construction phase lasted 18 months, starting in May 1940. To avoid the same type of disaster happening to the Rainbow Bridge, the approach spans and abutments have been built high on the sides of the gorge, on solid rock capable of withstanding the pressure and ice jams in the river below (an ice jam was the cause of the collapse of the previous bridge).
The bridge has some impressive stats:
- 5,500 tons of steel were used in the construction; 3,5000 in the two ribs and 2,000 in the superstructure and decking. An additional 22-inch section of steel joins the 475-foot sections that extend from each shore.
- The two 22 feet wide roadways are separated by a 4-feet wide median
- The sidewalk along the bridge is 10 feet wide
- The deck is 202 feet above the water and 1,450 feet long
Construction costs: $4 million initial construction cost
In 2014, a further $4.3 million was spent on renovating the plaza bus processing facility on the Canadian side.
Lord Nelson’s statue
The stonework of Nelson’s Statue was completed in November 1843 after 3 years construction, which started in July 1840. The first stone was laid in the September by Charles Davison Scott and built by Grissell and Peto, who were also responsible for the construction of many other major buildings in London, including Hungerford Market at Charing Cross and St. James Theatre.
The stonework was ready for the pedestal and statues but in 1844 the Nelson Memorial Committee ran out of money as the £20,485 raised by the public had been spent, so the project passed into the hands of the Government. The Office of Woods and Forests took it over and work restarted in 1849 with the installation of the bronze reliefs around the sides, over a period of 5 years.
Next came the fluted column which is built from solid blocks of granite taken from the Foggintor quarries on Dartmoor, and the 5.5 metre statue of Nelson at the top. This is made from Craigleith sandstone that was donated by the Duke of Buccleuch.
The Barbary lions were the last figures to be added, in 1867 – originally intended to be made of granite, this was changed to bronze. They were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer in collaboration with Baron Marochetti and were commissioned in 1858.
Construction costs: The original stonework cost was £20,485 which was raised by public subscriptions for the Nelson’s Memorial Committee. Once this ran out, the costs become vague, but we do know that Landseer was paid £6,000 for his design of the lions, and Baron Marochetti £11,000.
Refurbishment that took place in 2006 cost £420,000 and was covered by Zurich Financial Services.
Disney also paid £24,000 in 2015 to cover it in lights, to promote Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The Suez Canal, which connects the Red seas with the Mediterranean sea, opened for navigation on 17 November, 1869 after 4 years construction and 70 years of planning!
Operated at that time by Suez Canal Company, it was seized by Britain in 1882 and controlled by the country until 1936, when the Suez Canal Zone was restored to Egyptian sovereignty. Extensions were added in 2015 to widen the canal; the canal was renamed the New Suez Canal on 6th August, 2015. In 2016, another side channel opened to serve the East Terminal.
The original Suez Canal was relatively shallow at 25-foot-deep and narrow; 72-foot-wide at the bottom of the canal and 200/300-foot-wide at the top. This meant its popularity was not as as expected and less than 500 ships sailed it during the first year it was open for business. After improvements in the 1870s, it became one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. As of 2017, more than 50 ships navigate it daily.
Construction costs: The original project came in $100 million, at more than double the original estimated cost, and left the Suez Canal Company in financial difficulties; as such, remaining works were not completed until 1871.
Expansion and widening during 2014/2015 came in at a cost of $8.4 billion; this was funded with interest-bearing investment certificates issued exclusively to Egyptian entities and individuals.
Pennsylvania Station, or Penn Station as it’s best known, is New York City’s main intercity railroad station; the original station opened on November 27, 1910, demolished in 1963, and then rebuilt and opened as part of Penn Plaza and Madison Square Garden in 1968.
The original Penn Station took 9 years to plan and build, with boring for the two North River tunnels starting in 1903. The tunnel was initially electrified with 600 volts DC and then changed to 11,000 volts AC; the technology used was so innovative for the time that a 23-foot section was shipped to the Jamestown Exposition in Norfolk (VA). After being displayed, it was shipped back and installed under water, where it remains in use to this day.
Construction on the station itself started in 1904 and took a further 6 years.
Construction costs: The original tunnels and station cost Pennsylvania Railroad $114 million.
The demolition of the original above ground station started in October 1963 and a smaller, below ground station was built instead at no cost to the railroad company (in exchange for the air rights to the station).
The Gateway Project was unveiled in 2011; this is a proposed high sped rail corridor to reduce bottleneck. This was originally projected to cost $14.5 billion but was later upped to a projected cost of $20 billion.
Work started this year on a plan to rebuild the historic station within the Farley Post Office building. This is expected to cost up to $1.6 billion.