Travel Lift Brings Maritime Opportunities to Connecticut

700 Ton Travel Lift Brings Maritime Opportunities to Connecticut 

February 17, 2022

One of the East Coast’s largest marine travel lifts is now in service at the Steelpointe Harbor Development in Bridgeport, CT. The 700-ton lift enables hauling some of the largest vessels in New England, including barges, ferry boats, tugboats, and megayachts. It will further advance Connecticut’s ability to be the region’s hub for the maritime industry.

Engineering services for the travel lift infrastructure were provided by RACE Coastal Engineering (RACE). “We are proud to provide ongoing waterfront engineering support to the Steelpointe Harbor Development Team as they continue to transform Bridgeport Harbor into an active and vibrant center of marine activities including both recreational and commercial activities,” remarked RACE’s President Devin Santa. 

Bridgeport Boatworks had previously operated a 75-ton and a 200-ton travel lift.  To enable the 700 ton to haul larger vessels, two new travel lift piers needed to extend toward the Harbor’s Federal Channel. The piers were designed to the applied loads from the 700-ton travel lift, gravity loads as well as the loading associated with a potential 100-year storm wave and currents.

The piers’ structural design required deep foundations consisting of H-piles spliced with pipe piles extending approximately 130’ into the ground. The combination of H-piles with pipe piles was used to increase capacities within the soils for bearing and to gain increased lateral strength. The       H-piles were used in the lower section of the pile to transfer the axial loads to the soils, while a steel pipe was used in the upper section of the pile for its uniform strength in all directions. Splicing the piles also allowed for minimizing the amount of concrete fill within the pipe piles and provided an efficient and cost effective design.

To minimize the impacts from corrosion due to the salt water environment, RACE utilized an epoxy coating on the steel pipe piles as well as increased the steel thickness to extend the longevity of the pipe piles.

The concrete rails were based on a deep beam design utilizing 5,000 psi concrete. To protect the reinforcing steel, galvanized reinforcing bars were installed. In addition, a minimum concrete cover of 3” was utilized throughout for added corrosion protection to the reinforcing steel.

The new travel lift piers were located in an area that had an existing steel sheet pile bulkhead. To eliminate the additional surcharge loading from the new 700-ton lift,  the pile supported piers were extended onto land as relieving platforms. This eliminated the need to replace the existing bulkhead.

Due to the proximity of the project to the Federal Channel as well as extending into State jurisdiction, this project required environmental permits from local, state and federal regulatory agencies.

During construction, RACE worked closely with the project team including soil testing labs, material scientists, divers, pile capacity testing firms, travel lift manufacturer, and the construction company to ensure the infrastructure’s integrity.

The new, larger travel lift provides opportunities for boatyards to be much more efficient and competitive. Without higher capacity travel lifts, large recreational and commercial vessels would need to be  dry docked – often one vessel at a time occupying a lock type structure while being repaired. The mobile travel lifts allow multiple vessels to be hauled, transported upland and blocked while being serviced. These high capacity lifts present an exciting development for megayacht and commercial facilities. 

The progress of Steelpointe Harbor’s 52 acre mixed-use waterfront development is revitalizing Bridgeport Harbor - it now includes a large-scale  full service shipyard, state-of-the art marina, restaurant,  marine services, as well as commercial and retail offices. The developers envision that the property will become an active recreational, cultural and residential community, further energized with holiday and seasonal events such as boat shows, musical performances, fishing tournaments, and more.

RACE is proud to be on the Team that has allowed this revitalization to occur.

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700 ton travel lift w ferry.jpg

 The 700-ton lift enables hauling some of the largest vessels in New England.

hpile spliced pipe pile.jpg

The piers’ structural design required deep foundations consisting of H-piles spliced with pipe piles extending approximately 130’ into the ground.

person wheel perspective.jpg

The concrete rails were based on a deep beam design utilizing 5,000 psi concrete. The pile supported travel lift rails were extended onto land as relieving platforms.

travellift load test.jpg

Load Testing 700 ton of barge on the new rails.