Bronto Skylift Treks and Inspects Tampa Bay Bridge

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Florida Department of Transportation workers employed a Bronto Skylift S236 HLA from Acme Lift Co., Mesa, Ariz., to inspect cables along the 4.1-mile Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which spans the Tampa Bay between St. Petersburg and Manatee Co., Fla.

Alex Gold, Acme Lift’s  Bronto operator, travels with the aerial lift and stays with the machine when it’s in operation. He trained and familiarized three inspectors on use of the platform controls, who then loaded a fluoroscope, video camera, digital recorder, and digital camera in the basket and spent the week of Oct. 18-22 conducting nighttime examinations and looked for corrosion in the cables and corrosion or breaks in welds. The inspections took place in the bridge’s upper cable stays, which are approximately 230 feet above the bridge’s Interstate 275 roadbed. The inspections occured at night to minimize traffic disruptions because the Bronto aerial required traffic lane closures while in use.

“Our Bronto lift has been utilized in hundreds of different environments, including everything from space shuttle launch platform work and wind power maintenance to performing inspections on the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers,” said Woody Weld, president and CEO of Acme Lift. He noted Bronto aerial lifts are ideal for bridge inspections because they provide safe lifting plus the height and outreach required.

Acme’s Bronto was rented by D. Peryea & Co. of Toronto, Ohio, which specializes in inspections that require difficult access—primarily bridges and dams. Dean Peryea, company owner, said he is impressed by the Bronto’s safety and security and its ease of fine movements when the machine’s boom is fully extended to its maximum 230-foot platform height. “They’re pretty amazing machines," said Peryea. "When you’re up that high, you can send her over a couple of inches and it won’t take you for a ride.”

The Bronto S236 HLA also features a 360° rotation, a maximum side outreach of 90 feet, and it can stretch 53 feet below ground level. Its platform can hold up to 1,000 pounds. The unit, which can be operated at wind speeds up to 38 mph,   is mounted on a 59-foot trailer.