Use of Precast Concrete at Manhattan's Penn Station Project Keeps Trains Running with Uninterrupted Service

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Challenging construction project received industry honors and features precast concrete work from Jersey Precast Corporation.

The Manhattan West project involved erecting a massive precast concrete platform over the rail tracks leading into Penn Station without disrupting 55 rail lines that ran underneath.

Due to the strength of precast concrete, no additional supports were needed. And because precast concrete is noncombustible, no fireproofing was necessary.

How does one build a plaza over the busiest set of railroad tracks in the busiest city in America – without bringing traffic to a screeching halt? Use a precast concrete design. That’s exactly what happened for the Manhattan West project, located over the tracks leading into Penn Station in Manhattan borough, New York City. Jersey Precast Corporation, a Mid-Atlantic Precast Association (MAPA) producer member, was a partner in the project, which received industry honors.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The Manhattan West project involved erecting a massive platform over the rail tracks leading into Penn Station without disrupting the 55 rail lines that ran constantly underneath. “The number of trains passing on these tracks is unbelievable,” shared Amir Ulislam of Jersey Precast.

Along with not stopping traffic, a key component of the project was finding a way to span the 240 feet (73 m) without installing intermediate steel columns, which would be too close to the rails to be safe. The structure also needed to be highly fire resistant. The project designer achieved all these high-performance goals using massive precast concrete spans in a segmental box and lift design. Each span consists of between 36 and 37 segments that weigh 1100 tons (98 kN) in total.

Due to the strength of precast concrete, no additional supports were needed. And because precast concrete is noncombustible, no fireproofing was necessary. “If we had gone with a steel design, we would have needed extra support columns, and a lot of fireproofing,” shared Ulislam.

The project also included a 2400 ton (21,000 kN) launching gantry, which was designed by DEAL, a subsidiary of Rizzani de Eccher, USA, the general contractor for the project.

PRECAST SOLUTION

A total of 612 precast concrete pieces were manufactured at the Jersey Precast facility in Hamilton, NJ. Each piece weighed roughly 56 tons (500 kN). They were delivered into Manhattan by trucks over the course of five months, where the erection crew assembled them overnight when there is minimal train traffic. Getting the pieces to the site proved to be a challenge. Because of different state transportation laws regarding movement of oversized loads, each truck had to cover the first leg of the trip through New Jersey during the day, and then wait at the George Washington Bridge until dusk to finish the trip into Manhattan. “It took a lot of planning and coordination to make it work,” Ulislam shared.

In the end, the owner and all key stakeholders were thrilled that the project was successfully completed without interrupting rail service. The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) presented Jersey Precast with the 2015 Design Award for Best Custom Solution.

For video content and a project photo gallery, visit the Manhattan West Project Profile on the MAPA website.

PROJECT AT-A-GLANCE

Location: New York, NY
Precaster: Jersey Precast Corporation (Hamilton Twp, NJ)
Owner: Brookfield Office Properties (New York, NY)
Architect: Skidmore Owings & Merrill (New York, NY)
Engineer: Entuitive (Toronto, ON, Canada)
Specialty Precast Engineer: McNary, Bergeron and Associates (Broomfield, CO)
Contractor: Turner Construction Company (New York, NY)
Project Cost: $70 million
Size: 130,000 square feet (12,100 meters squared), including 612 pieces of precast concrete segments weighing approx. 56 tons each
Structural Precast Elements: Precast concrete segments span 240 feet (73 m) over 55 sets of rail tracks, eliminating the need to place steel columns on the railroad floor

ABOUT MID-ATLANTIC PRECAST ASSOCIATION

The Mid-Atlantic Precast Association (MAPA) is a professional marketing organization committed to the growth and greater profitability of the Precast Industry in the Mid-Atlantic region. Founded in 1978, MAPA is comprised of 13 prestressed/precast producer member firms located throughout the Mid-Atlantic States, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The organization is closely associated with the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) and has over 50 associate member companies that produce a variety of concrete industry related products. For more information, visit http://www.mapaprecast.org.

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Kae G. Wagner
kgwagner@northstar-m.com
+1 (717) 392-6982 Ext: 1
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Tom Holmes
MAPA
717-723-6010
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