As part of the Annual State of the Skyway and Capital Improvement Program, the Skyway Concession Company (SCC) hired Lochner to complete annual inspections and reports on the 7.8-mile-long Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge System. This system consists of 60 bridges and includes the Calumet River High Bridge—a 7,243-foot-long, 43-span steel through truss and deck truss viaduct bridge. Because the Calumet River is a major route for industrial ships, the bridge has 125 feet of vertical clearance and is the highest in Chicago, which presents unique inspection challenges. While a barge with an aerial lift can be used to inspect the fracture-critical, steel river piers, this approach can be a costly option that leaves some areas harder to inspect. To address these challenges, Lochner is using rope access techniques, an innovative and cost-effective inspection method that provides complete hands-on access to the bridge.
Lochner used rope access techniques standardized by the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) to inspect the Calumet River High Bridge. SPRAT first developed these standards to promote awareness and safety of rope access systems, which use ropes and specialized hardware as the primary means of providing access and support to workers. Generally, a two-rope system is employed: the working rope supports the worker and the safety rope provides back-up fall protection. This is a safe, cost-effective, and efficient way to access structures for inspection, maintenance, and construction activities.