Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors, Inc.

Harrison and Burrowes pic

Credit www.dennisleephotography.com

Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors diversifies its portfolio while remaining true to its core competencies.
By Jim Harris

Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors Inc. prides itself on being reliable. “We’ve developed a reputation over the past 38 years as being the guys who, when we are the apparent low bidder, will get it done right, on schedule and under budget without any headaches or hassles along the way,” Vice President Chris DiStefano says.

The Glenmont, N.Y.-based company has earned its reputation through the efforts of its executives and other staff. Harrison & Burrowes’ five executive managers are DiStefano and his father, Jeff DiStefano, who co-founded the company in 1980 and serves as CEO; President Mark Klingbeil; Vice President Steve Avveduti, and Secretary/Treasurer Ann Marie Olsen-Geitner. Combined, the five have nearly 170 years of combined experience. Several of the company’s superintendents have worked for it for 30 years or more.

“Once people come here, they don’t go anywhere else,” Chris DiStefano says. “Our people take pride in what they do and are proud to work here. Even when they’re not at work, you’ll see them wearing a Harrison & Burrowes-branded hoodie or hat.

“We treat everyone here equally and with respect,” DiStefano adds. “We expect a lot of our employees, and we know the construction season in New York is long, but we are a pretty easy company to work for.”

The company also fosters close relationships with a core group of subcontractors. “There are companies we’ve had relationships with for 30-plus years, and we’ve actually helped some of them get started in business,” DiStefano says. “Our subcontractors like to work for us because they know we will treat them fairly and do as much as we can for them.”

A Critical Replacement

As its full name suggests, Harrison & Burrowes specializes in building, maintaining, repairing and replacing bridges throughout New York State. The company works primarily with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), although it has done a few jobs outside the state, as well as some county and local projects. It typically works on 12 to 15 bridge projects at a time, DiStefano says.

The company’s recent projects include replacing six bridges in Ulster County, N.Y. The $27 million project was a joint venture between Harrison & Burrowes and civil contractor The Wesson Group. Work began in April 2016 and concluded in late 2017. Harrison and Burrowes box

The project was a portion of the NYSDOT’s Critical Bridges Over Water effort program. The program, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), was established following the damage in the region created by Hurricane Irene in 2011 to enhance the resiliency of bridges in flood zones. Harrison & Burrowes has personally worked on 20 of the 105 bridges included in the program, DiStefano says.

The largest of the six new Ulster County bridges was an $8 million 225 foot two lane structure with a 10 foot sidewalk bridge crossing the Rondout Creek in High Falls, N.Y. The original bridge was demolished in January 2017 and its replacement opened to traffic in August 2017.

Branching Out

Although bridge projects in New York are the vast majority of Harrison & Burrowes’ work, the company is beginning to branch out into different project types. In July 2017, it began work on a $16.1 million wharf reconstruction project at the Port of Albany for the Albany Port District Commission. The project involves demolishing and reconstructing the wharf, which sits on the Hudson River.

The design/build project includes installing 16,800 linear feet of driven 24-inch pipe pile and 5,000 linear feet of H-Pile, as well as 40,000 square feet of driven steel sheet piling. The reconstruction also includes rebar installation, concrete formwork and the placement of cast-in-place concrete and precast deck slabs. Work on the project began in 2017 and is anticipated to conclude in 2020.

“There’s no bridge in sight, but all of the elements of a normal bridge project are included in this job. There is a large amount of driven piles and cast in place concrete, which is a good fit for our capabilities,” DiStefano says. 

The company purchased a new crane to drive piles for the project. The crane is one of five owned by the company; in addition, its fleet includes more than 20 excavators. “Our equipment is always moving and always busy,” he adds. Harrison & Burrowes’ non-bridge projects also include the Rensselaer Esplanade, a $1.7 million civic beautification project located on a former high school site in Rensselaer, N.Y. The project included pouring concrete for sidewalks, building a decorative retaining wall and installing street lighting. The project began in late 2016 and ended in 2017.

In November 2017, the company was brought on board to construct concrete decks on the summit and base terminals for the new gondola at the Belleayre Mountain Ski Resort in the Southern Catskill Mountains. Working as a subcontractor to The Doppelmayr Garaventa Group, the crew, led by Project Superintendent Russ Insogna, worked in single-digit temperatures over a four-week span to excavate, form and pour the lower decks, footings, frost walls and upper gondola decks to stay on schedule for a Dec. 16 opening, DiStefano says. 

More than Horizontal

The company’s busy project portfolio led it last year to expand its headquarters building. “We were running out of room at the office; every room was occupied,” DiStefano says.

Harrison & Burrowes framed and built the 3,100-square-foot addition itself and hired subcontractors to install the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems.

“This is a testament to just how talented our employees are,” DiStefano says. “We’re not just horizontal construction guys – we can go vertical too.”

Harrison & Burrowes continues to seek new opportunities to apply its trade, even outside of its home state. The company is seeking projects in neighboring states including Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. It also wants to add more design/build and privately funded jobs to its portfolio. “We’re keeping our eyes open and finding projects that suit our strengths,” he adds.

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