"Truss Tuesday" went off without a hitch at the Milwaukee Bucks arena construction site downtown.
A raw, blustery wind Tuesday morning didn't delay the installation of the first roof truss, which was raised high into the air and bolted into place at the northwest corner of the arena bowl.
Installed about 9 a.m. was the first half of the truss, a 23-ton piece of assembled steel that's about 35 feet high by 100 feet long. The piece was lifted into place by workers for contractor JP Cullen operating a crane working in sync with iron workers in two boom lifts.
"Smooth, very smooth," said iron worker Tom Williams, who rode in the boom lift basket with partner Shane Steaber high above the arena bowl. Williams ran the controls and communicated with the crane operator during the "pick." Working in the other boom lift at the opposite end of the truss were Brandon Ladwin and Don Olday.
"Nothing too dramatic," Williams said. "It was easy."
Steaber bolted one end of the truss to the top rim of the building, and the other end rested on a temporary tower, with the crane holding it stable.
A series of smaller secondary trusses were also lifted and provide a sort of cross-bar connection that will give the trusses rigidity.
Early Wednesday morning, the second half of the main truss will be raised, a 150-foot-long section. Once bolted to the piece raised Tuesday, it will form the first complete span of steel across the seating bowl. Additional secondary trusses will be added, a process that will be repeated throughout the summer until nine trusses are installed.
"It's kind of like a big Tetris game that we're playing here," said Ellen Becker, a project engineer with Mortenson Construction, the construction manager for the arena project.
Bucks and arena construction officials said the truss lift was an important milestone for the $524 million project that's being built with $250 million in public money. Bucks president Peter Feigin watched Tuesday's lift and was effusive in his praise for the progress of the arena work.
"It's the birth of a building. It's for real," Feigin said. "This is going to be one of the best places in the world to watch basketball."
Feigin said he was pleased that the project was "on time and on budget."
The aggressive construction schedule calls for the new arena to be open in time for the 2018 NBA season.
Angie Helfert, a Mortenson project manager, said Tuesday's successful lift was "a huge day" for the project.
"We picked this day out a year ago" for the first truss lift, she said. "And we hit it."
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