Seagoing industrial opera at Packer's
When C&D Towing company's 90-foot, 2,000-horsepower tug Miss Jean entered Vineyard Haven Harbor late Sunday night after a 72-hour trip from Norfolk, Virginia, she may have made a little bit of history.
While millions of tons of cargo have passed through Island ports over several hundred years, and over the R.M. Packer Company transfer bridge for decades, and although no one can be sure, Packer Company president Ralph Packer believes Miss Jean was towing the largest single load of cargo ever to arrive here. The cargo was pre-cast concrete components for the replacement of Big and Little Bridges on Beach Road over the next two winters.
MIG Corporation, based in Acton, is the contractor for the bridge work. The company plans to replace one lane of each span over the winter, finishing before Memorial Day. Next year, the whole seagoing industrial opera will be repeated, when the company completes the remaining lane on each bridge.
Miss Jean towed a barge carrying about 2,000 tons of concrete pilings and decking, which will be used to rebuild the two bridges. That's four million pounds of pre-cast concrete. The largest of the components, which will fit together to form the bridge deck, were about 85 feet long and weighed 34 tons each.
"It was a very large production," Mr. Packer said, "and it worked flawlessly."
The last piece of construction material came off the barge Monday evening.
As soon as the barge was secured Sunday night, two alternating work crews began unloading the cargo with the help of a 200-foot crane, which itself had to be brought to the Island in pieces and assembled in the Packer yard.
Most of the bridge components were loaded onto trucks, and staged at the Oak Bluffs transfer station. They will be trucked to Big Bridge and Little Bridge, as they are needed. The crane itself was loaded on a barge and towed around East Chop to the work site. The largest of the pre-cast concrete pieces were loaded onto another barge, which will be towed to the work sites at the beginning of next week.