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People Mover on the Move

The versatility of the Putzmeister equipment enabled O’Brien’s pump operators to snake up between and extend over the bridge sections in building the automated people mover at DFW airport.

Most of the work for the APM track is being done at night to avoid dealing with aircraft on the runway. Pours start at midnight on a typical 60-by-80-foot bridge section and are finished by 6 a.m. before air traffic starts.

People Mover on the Move

Under construction at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW) is the largest airport train system in the world. It will debut its automated people mover (APM) the first quarter of 2005. When the overhead bridge or guideway system is complete, 64 “Winnebago-sized” electric-powered vehicles will zip travelers between DFW’s six terminals with an average passenger ride time of five minutes.

The estimated $500 million APM system – named SkyLink – will completely revolutionize travel around DFW Airport and give passengers faster service and quicker connecting options as they navigate the world’s third busiest airport. As a result, it will unite DFW’s existing Terminals A, B, C, E, and the new International Terminal D as well as the future Terminal F.

Each terminal will contain two APM stations approximately 460 feet long. Elevated an average of 50 feet above ground, the guideway will run on the airside of existing terminals and through future Terminals D and F. When complete, DFW’s APM will be the largest of its kind.

Work began on the APM September 2001. Building this guideway, constructed of concrete and structural steel, while airlines continue their operations has been a challenge. However, over 60 companies with more than 1,000 employees are working shifts nearly around-the-clock to make it happen.

Hensel Phelps is the construction manager with four other general contractors handling separate portions of the massive project. These contractors include Gilbert Texas Construction, McCarthy, Archer Western Contractors, Inc. and Omega Contracting, Inc. O’Brien Concrete Pumping of Keller, Texas, is working with all these companies to handle 99 percent of the concrete pumping.

“Project is flat out overwhelming”
“The project is flat out overwhelming,” said Dean Norvell, O’Brien’s branch manager of the Dallas/Fort Worth location. “It’s not uncommon to have eight pumps working at the airport and not be anywhere near each other.”

Basically, every size of concrete pump has been used on the project. This spans from the smallest 28Z-Meter to the 52-Meter, the largest in O’Brien’s fleet. Norvell said, “Needless to say, it’s been a difficult task scheduling equipment because every day is different. Since there is no set method, we juggle over 18 Putzmeister units from our fleet to accommodate requests, even when we’ve gotten calls with only an hour’s notice.”

A great amount of time and effort are being put into this mammoth project – claimed to be the largest in North Texas history – because the five-mile track is often being built where nothing existed. That means that the majority of work is “overhead” work in pumping piers, columns and elevated slabs in addition to the stations at each terminal. Further adding to all this is that most of the concrete pumping is now being done at night to avoid dealing with aircraft on the runway.

Chosen for experience and equipment
O’Brien was selected for this massive project basically for its experience and equipment. Trained and certified operators were a necessity in dealing with a job of this magnitude. For security purposes, O’Brien personnel went through clearance checks to gain badges for access to the airport, and they fulfilled AOA (Aircraft Operators Area) training classes.

Owner Richard O’Brien of O’Brien said, “As far as the equipment, the Putzmeister pumps offered the needed reliability and product features these contractors needed. This included quickly handling high outputs with the .16H and .20H pump cells, easily pumping the rocky mixes with the rugged S-Valves and providing important reach features exclusive to Putzmeister.”

For instance, the versatility of the five-section Putzmeister 52Z was an instant hit when it arrived in May 2002. It’s ability to use only 1-1/2 boom sections to reach up, leaving three sections to maneuver around obstacles and provide added reach proved especially beneficial in areas difficult to access. The popularity of this concrete boom pump among the contractors led to the specific purchase of a second 52Z that was delivered one month later.

O’Brien’s operators alone have logged over 7,000 man-hours to date. They have pumped over 50,000 yards with an estimated 20,000 yards to handle in the next four more months remaining until the concrete placement portion is complete.

Equipment operated non-stop
Norvell said, “Our Putzmeister equipment has basically operated non-stop as we’ve worked around the clock on this job. Several times, it’s just been a matter of switching operators. Even under these circumstances, the pumps’ performance has been more than exceptional without any problems.”

Upon final completion in three years, the APM system will travel at speeds reaching 35 miles per hour with the capability of transporting 5,000 passengers per hour in each direction on the first day it is open. Ultimately, this system will be able to transport 8,500 passengers per hour in each direction.

Construction Manager: Hensel Phelps – DFW Airport
General Contractors: Gilbert Texas Construction – Dallas, McCarthy – DFW Airport, Omega Contracting, Inc. – Dallas, Archer; Western Contractors, Inc. – Arlington, Texas
Pumping contractor: O’Brien Concrete Pumping – Keller, Texas
Ready-mix supplier: Beall Concrete
Equipment: Putzmeister 28Z-, 36-, 43-, 44- and 52Z-Meter concrete boom pumps