Here Come the Cranes!

Cranes have migrated to the Refuge this Spring

Cranes have migrated to the Refuge this Spring

Sandhill cranes are a common sight at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. They’re usually spotted in the Fall, dazzling visitors at the annual Birdfest and Bluegrass event in October. Cranes of a different sort have made their way to the Refuge this Spring - one with 90 tons of lifting power, the other with 300 tons of lifting power. Just a bit more than a typical sandhill needs to get airborne.

As you may have guessed, these are no feathered cranes. They are the mechanized cranes that will lift all of the heavy materials needed to construct the new two-lane bridge across Lake River and the BNSF railroad tracks. This is a project that happens in stages. And like a Birdfest-goer making their sandhill tour reservations, last week was all about getting ready for the cranes.

While our Fall cranes arrive by air, these cranes came by water. That meant Ceccanti Inc., the bridge contractor, needed to first build a landing site for the barge carrying the cranes. That work was completed last week and the cranes were delivered by JT Marine. They now reside on the Southwest side of the bridge. If you came to the Auto Tour this past weekend, you may have captured a look at these temporary Refuge residents.

This week, the contractor will complete set-up of the cranes, begin installing the shoring and bulkhead, and begin assembly of the rebar for the new bridge piers.

Don’t forget, the bridge is closed Monday through Friday, all day. You can access the Auto Tour on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the project. And be sure to check back for regular project updates.

The 300-ton capacity crane crawls its way off the barge to the landing site

The 300-ton capacity crane crawls its way off the barge to the landing site