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October 2, 2010 9:00 AM CDT

Fraco Products Requisitioned for Turcot

Canadian mast climbing access systems manufacturer is on his way to become the reference for concrete piles repairs


Fraco mastclimbers have demonstrated their advantages during repairing phases.

Fraco mastclimbers have demonstrated their advantages during repairing phases.
Bridges and Roadway interchanges are examples of infrastructures that sometimes require prompt and urgent actions. With global works requiring an investment of $ 6.5 millions (CAN), the St-Peter Interchange, located in the south-west of Montreal at the junction of Route 138 to Highway A-20, is subject since October 2009 to repair works. Made on five piles located under the access ramps, these works are made possible because of the use of Fraco mast climbing work platforms. Recently, the Canadian-based company was given the mandate to supply the same equipment for a similar project at the Turcot Interchange in Montreal.

St-Peter Interchange

In order to ensure safe works, general contractor Les Grands Travaux SOTER Inc. (G.T.S.) decided in autumn 2009 to ask for Fraco mast climbers. Ten (10) units were moved to the project location, some mounted on free standing bases, other on ground bases. Installation and dismantle were made by Fraco technicians.

The repair works made on concrete piles involved different phases: identification of damage areas; concrete chipping; cleaning, steel insertion and rebar reinforcement; formworks installation and concrete pouring. If telescopic boom lifts can be useful for tasks such as the identification of damage areas, it is different for the other types of works. G.T.S. had to rely on a stable and flexible access system that can support the weight of tools, hammers, workers and all materials needed to repair each pile. Because of their high load capacity and their large surface of work, Fraco's ACT-8 mastclimbers appeared to be the ideal equipment to complete the job.

The size of the piles depends on their positioning under the ramps and their height varies between 20-28 meters. Generally, the piles have a T-shape. Each pile required the use of two (2) work platforms, both positioned on the larger faces of the pile. The installation of short gateways between each mast climber allowed access to lateral faces. Other access systems were also necessary in the upper parts of each pile.

In order to guarantee the bearing capacity of piles, G.T.S. followed an operation procedure prepared by Ministry of Transport of Quebec (MTQ). That procedure stipulated that each pile must be divided into four (4) sections of work, each to be completed before the start of the next one. Thus, the repair works always started by lateral sections of the first quarter (section 1) of each pile (phase 1). Once the concrete was poured and lateral sections completed, G.T.S. was repairing into three steps the axial sections located on each face of the pile (phase 2). The T-shape part represented the last section to be repaired. To do so, that part was divided into two sub-sections and the workers have repaired the diametrically opposed faces (phase 3 and 4) in one step. Next schematics illustrate the procedure followed by G.T.S.

As suggested, the Fraco mastclimbers have demonstrated their advantages during the repairing phases. According to Gerald Harnois, foreman at G.T.S., Fraco's platforms brought a dimension of comfort and safety: "Boom lifts have made the works difficult to complete because of their lack of stability. Our employees were expecting the same effect with the Fraco, but they realized the difference after few minutes of utilization. These machines have really transformed their work environment."

Indeed, the concrete chipping phase requires hammers that can destabilize the boom lifts and other scaffoldings often used for repairing concrete piles. The length and scope of Fraco mastclimbers allow minimum moving around a pile. They offer an improved stability because of their simple, solid and safe anchoring system. In the case of the St-Peter Interchange, the work platforms had to be elevated over 20 meters high and masts had to be tied to each pile at every 3 and 15 meters from the ground. The result has been a comfortable and safe workspace that facilitated the execution of works.

Turcot Interchange

Located at five (5) km of the southwest of downtown of Montreal, the Turcot Interchange connects Highways A-20, A-15 and route 720. It facilitates access to Champlain Bridge, to the downtown of Montreal and to the west and northwest areas of the island of Montreal. The interchange took office in 1967 and a redevelopment plan is expected during the next 10 years.

Pending the beginning of the redevelopment works, general contractor DJL was mandated by the MTQ to maintain and repair the piles of few ramps that require immediate action. After visiting the St-Peter Interchange jobsite, DJL representatives have also decided to use Fraco mast climbing work platforms for the repair works to be completed at high levels. The heights of piles at Turcot and St-Peter interchanges are comparable (+/- 18 meters), but there is a peak of 30.48 meters at Turcot. In order to answer to immediate needs, Fraco has moved and installed at the beginning of June 2010, six (6) units, which are now being, used under three ramps.

Since the MTQ redevelopment plan includes the construction of new roads under the present access ramps, we can expect that the maintenance and repair of piles will continue over the coming years.

About the Author

Fraco Products Ltd is a Canadian-based manufacturer of mast climbing access systems. The company offers solutions to specific construction markets such as infrastructure, glazing, power generation and masonry. For more information visit


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