Crane and Hoist Canada

All the heavy lifting done at Québec City’s new arena

July 18, 2016  By Saul Chernos

Business is brisk at Québec City’s new Centre Vidéotron (Videotron Centre in English). But only time will tell if close to a dozen cranes that worked on its construction will herald the return of Les Nordiques.

Construction of the 18,259-seat arena began in September 2012. The 68,000-square-metre facility, completed last summer, includes 81 corporate lounge-size suites, seven potential theatre configurations, 150 food and drink concession stands and a nine-by-eleven-metre, four-sided jumbotron screen above centre ice.

The project came in on-schedule, with proponents saying it cost $30 million less than the $400 million forecast.

Quebecor Media purchased naming rights to the arena in a 25-year deal that will see the company promote its growing Vidéotron telecommunications business.

While Quebecor is expected to help fill seats, Madonna, Metallica, Mötley Crüe and Shania Twain have already graced the concert stage, and the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in a pre-season National Hockey League match.

Quebecor will rent the arena for the city’s junior league team, the Remparts, which the company owns. But sights are set on attracting a pro hockey team to replace Les Nordiques, which moved to Colorado in 1995.

While the puck’s nowhere near the net, a motley assortment of cranes helped put Québec City in the running.

Guay supplied a lot of heavy iron

Grues Guay vice-president Guillaume Gagnon provided a lengthy list when asked what cranes it supplied for the project, and it’s clear steel was the big deal.

A 45-ton truck-mounted Grove TMS745E unloaded steel structure, while a 45-ton National 45127 boom truck was used to help place steel beams. Also hoisting structural steel were an 80-ton Grove rough-terrain RT880E, a 120-ton Grove all-terrain GMK5120B, a 165-ton Grove all-terrain GMK5165-2, a 200-ton Demag all-terrain AC-180, and a 300-ton Manitowoc 2250 crawler.

A 140-ton truck-mounted Link Belt HTC-3140 hoisted precast concrete as well as structural steel, and a 350-ton Grove GMK6350L installed steel lacing between trusses and roofing material.

The crane work was fairly straight-forward. Gagnon says the biggest challenge came while working inside the building with the 300-ton crawler to install the trusses.

“At the end of the work, the challenge was to dismantle the crane in the tight space we had,” Gagnon says. “They had to make a temporary pad with sand in the stage, where the future seats were installed, to allow us enough space to put the boom down on the ground.”

Crews faced another major logistical hurdle when a geotechnical and environmental investigation confirmed petroleum hydrocarbons, lead and assorted carcinogens left over from incinerator ash stored in an old garbage dump underneath the portion of the site where the building was to be located.

Rather than embark on a complicated removal program, which could have cost up to $40 million, project proponents contained the waste in-situ, built parking facilities over-top, and placed the arena on safer ground 200 metres away, says Jean Rochette, who managed the project for the city.

Project organization and management also proved challenging. Rochette credits a strategy of splitting construction into 27 sub-contracts covering areas a such as concrete, structural steel, roofing, interior finishing, plumbing, electrical and HVAC, and establishing 32 separate, specialized equipment purchase groups to procure sound, video, stage, broadcast and other equipment.

“This opened the market so there was lots of competition,” Rochette says.

Tower cranes also on site

Project managers used computerized building information modelling programs — a.k.a. BIM — to enhance collaboration and communication among various parties and reduce conflicts between disciplines. In fact, Pomerleau says it brought this approach to the table as part of its bid.

“Specifically, BIM helped reduce the number of requests for information at the construction stage,” says Ivanka Iordanova, Pomerleau’s BIM – virtual design and construction director.

“BIM dramatically reduced the amount of rework on the construction site, thus creating a fluid workflow and contributing to a healthy working atmosphere,” Iordanova adds. “This was key to the success of the Vidéotron Centre project.”

Quebec City’s Jean Rochette says the city called a meeting each week to coordinate the work with 3-D drawings. “These were like a fourth dimension, eliminating conflicts and improving collaboration and communication.”

Grues Guay’s mobile cranes weren’t the only heavy-lifters on site. Several tower cranes were also active.

Coffrage LD, a Charny, Que., formwork company, had a half dozen cranes on-site including two Potain MD 368 tower cranes, each with lifting capacities of 12 tons.

Coffrage operations director Cindy Drouin says the tower cranes hoisted materials such as framing and recessed parts weighing up to five tons, and set up and dismantled other heavy equipment.

Building the arena’s amphitheatre was especially challenging, Drouin says, because the area was prone to wind gusts of up to 50 kilometres an hour, making it tough to lift prefabricated formwork panels measuring 16-by-20 feet.

The project’s tight deadline also required cranes to work in concert with one-another. At time, six cranes were hoisting simultaneously, in relatively close proximity.

Soft and uneven soil conditions also proved challenging for two Link-Belt 40 and 50-ton mobile cranes and a 70-ton Terex. To prevent collapse, Drouin says, crews installed the cranes on large steel plates.

Saul Chernos

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