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Mackinac Bridge painting project wins fourth award

Ruby+Associates of Bingham Farms designed the movable painting platforms being used in the Mackinac Bridge’s back-to-back two-year tower painting projects.
Mackinac Bridge painting platform, as seen in 2019. (MDOT File Photo)
Mackinac Bridge painting platform, as seen in 2019. (MDOT File Photo)(WLUC)
Published: Dec. 18, 2020 at 3:26 PM EST
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ST. IGNACE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Mackinac Bridge tower painting project has won yet another national award, this time from the National Council of Structural Engineers (NCSEA).

Ruby+Associates of Bingham Farms was named the Outstanding Project Winner in the Other Structures category of the NCSEA’s Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards. The firm designed the movable painting platforms being used in the Mackinac Bridge’s back-to-back two-year tower painting projects.

“The judges were impressed by the solutions provided for the unique challenges on this project,” said Carrie Johnson, chair of the NCSEA Awards Committee. “The engineers were tasked with creating a painting platform. This was a two-story, movable steel and aluminum structure capable of sustaining 100 mph winds. The solution eliminated the need for almost 400 feet of scaffolding.”

Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) Executive Secretary Kim Nowack congratulated Ruby+Associates on the latest award.

“These multiple awards recognize the engineering knowledge and problem-solving creativity of the firms involved, evident from the excellent job they’ve done repainting the Mackinac Bridge towers,” she said.

Back in March, Ruby+Associates received one of five Engineering Honorable Conceptor Awards from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Michigan (ACEC/M) at the association’s annual Engineering and Surveying Excellence Awards Gala.

Earlier this year, representatives of Seaway Painting of Livonia, the contractor performing the work on the bridge, accepted the E. Crone Knoy Award from the Society for Protective Coatings, an industry group focused on protecting and preserving concrete, steel, and other industrial and marine structures. The E. Crone Knoy Award “recognizes an outstanding achievement in industrial or commercial coatings work that demonstrates innovation, excellence in craftsmanship, or the use of state-of-the-art techniques or products to creatively solve problems or provide long-term service.”

Last summer at the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois 2019 Excellence in Structural Engineering Annual Awards, Ruby+Associates took home the Best Neighboring State Project Award for the bridge painting platforms used in the painting project. The movable scaffold system was designed by Ruby+Associates, fabricated by Moran Iron Works of Onaway, and used by Seaway Painting.

The south tower contract is for just less than $6.5 million, and work is expected to be completed in early 2021. The contract to repaint the north tower was just less than $6.3 million. Installation and removal of the platforms has required brief closures during the overnight and early morning hours on several occasions.

The original paint is lead-based and Seaway is required to contain 100 percent of the paint as it is removed and ship it to an appropriate landfill facility. The new paint, which is zinc-based, is expected to last at least 35 years, with periodic maintenance.

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