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Hot Beams, Cold Air

Desiree Cooper

Marc Sanchez

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I 35 Bridge Hard Hat
(Marc Sanchez)
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Desiree Cooper: There's these big, it looks like airplane hangars out here, with scaffolding inside. And there's also tarps covering wooden structures, where they're probably going to be pouring the cement. I'm going to go out there and check it out.

Bob Edwards: My name is Robert Edwards, and I am the assistant project manager for the Flatiron Manson joint venture. What we're doing out here is the design, re-build of the I-35W Bridge.

So Bob, will you show us how you keep warm out there?

Edwards: So, what we're looking at here is one of the casting beds that we're going to use to cast the segments. And this is one that they're just starting to frame and get the side frames up on. They're going to pour the base, and the walls, and then after that's poured on these, they'll form up for what is going to be, the roadway.

Oh, it's freezing. It's like my eyeballs are starting to hurt.

Edwards: Yeah. You'll start to cry.

So, we'll head over here and take a look at some of the heating sheds we have here.

So is this better?

This is much better. My knees were starting to get cold, and I started to feel the tip of my nose go numb that quickly.

Edwards: So you don't have multiple layers of pants on?

I have two layers. I have long johns on under here.

Edwards: That's good. That's good. But you can see how much more pleasant it would be to work in here than to work outside in the wind. And that's what we're trying to do, not only because it helps keep the concrete warm, but because it makes our workers safe and more productive.

It's amazing to me that you can conserve enough heat to really heat up a structure this big.

Tracy Hay: My name is Tracy Hay, and I'm a superintendant in the pre-cast yard.

Your starting your shift before the sun is up and you're ending after it's down, so in those hours before sun up and sun down is there something different that people do?

Hay: Well generally, they get started a little slower. I think everybody starts out a little slow in the morning, right? Then we have our safety meeting. We have our stretch and flex.

What's a stretch and flex?

Hay: First we do squats, and then we reach for the sky and stretch. And then we'll stretch left and right. And then we'll stretch our wrists and our fingers. Pretty much just, kind of limber up a little bit before we get going.

Rick Peterson: How are you doing?

Hi! I'm Desiree Cooper. We're with Weekend America.

Peterson: OK. Very good. My name is Rick Peterson. I'm a carpenter.

So, do you typically work through the winter, as a carpenter?

Peterson: Yes. Yes. Weather, it does become an issue. We layer ourselves out. Myself, I've got about four layers of shirt and then a jacket.

But you're not even zipped up. Your mother would be upset.

Peterson: Oh no. Work hard. Stay warm. You get cold, we have the ability to go into a building like this here and get warmed up.

Where's your beard?

Peterson: I'm a Finlander. We don't have a whole lot of facial hair.

Well Rick, I'm loosing feeling in my toes, so I think we should keep walking. Nice to meet you.

Peterson: Thank you.

Bob, is there ever a moment when you say, "it's just too cold," and you just call of work for the day?

Edwards: Certainly. We did it last weekend, when we had our severe minus temperatures and a heavy wind. Our wind chill was down -35, -40. We've also had, in the last couple of nights, crews go home. We don't dictate that, they do. If they say it's too cold, then we're going home.

Bob, thanks for showing us around.

Edwards: Thank you. I'm glad you came out to see us.

I look forward to driving over this bridge next Christmas Eve.

Edwards: Well, and I hope you don't stay away that long. As we make different progress and it warms up, we'd be glad to have you back again.

  • Music Bridge:
    King Me
    Artist: Antietam
    CD: Opus Mixtum (Carrot Top)

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