SANDUSKY -- Rising up from the shores of Lake Erie, the GateKeeper winged roller coaster is slowly coming to life at Cedar Point.
Photos: GateKeeper coaster construction at Cedar Point
Since the first pieces of track arrived at the Sandusky scream park on Oct. 23, crews have now reached GateKeeper's highest point by topping off its 170-foot-tall lift hill around 3:15 p.m. Friday.
An American flag was attached to the top as the track piece was put into place.
Amusement park enthusiasts have been able to watch GateKeeper's construction process on one of Cedar Point's web cameras.
When GateKeeper roars to life in 2013, it will be Cedar Point's 16th roller coaster. It will take 32 riders on a 2 minute 40 second journey along 4,164 feet of twisted light blue steel track. It will carry approximately 1,710 riders per hour.
Video: Animated footage of Gatekeeper in action
But as many fans know, GateKeeper's life is also tied to the death of two former Cedar Point rides: Space Spiral and Disaster Transport.
Space Spiral literally came crashing down on Sept. 13 after crews set off an explosive blast at the its base. After giving more than 34 million rides since first scraping the sky in 1965, it only took 17 seconds for Space Spiral's 330-foot tower to slam to the ground.
Photos: Cedar Point tears down Space Spiral
At its tip, Space Spiral was the tallest point in the park for decades until Top Thrill Dragster opened in 2003.
Disaster Transport, an indoor bobsled roller coaster, closed forever on July 29 after giving more than 30 million rides throughout its 28 years.
Photos: Disaster Transport's final ride
GateKeeper, which will be the world's longest winged coaster, is the first roller coaster added to Cedar Point since Maverick debuted in 2007.
GATEKEEPER CONSTRUCTION TIMELINE:
- Site was leveled.
- Workers dug close to 200 footers for the ride's foundation, each about six feet deep. They used steel cages to reinforce the concrete in each of the footers.
- Return track was erected.
- Steel supports and track were placed for the lift hill, using a large crane. The largest steel support is about 170 feet.
- Lift hill was topped off and completed.
- Highest point of inversion is placed.
- Steel shipments arrive daily. About 100 truckloads will arrive at the park throughout the construction, each traveling more than 200 miles from southern Ohio.
- Steel erection and station work continue. The track and steel supports have been filled with sand to reduce the noise of the ride as it travels over the main entrance.
- Electrical installation begins.
- Two 100-foot tall keyhole structures are installed at the main entrance.
- Last pieces of steel arrive.
- Inversions are complete and connected to the rest of the track.
- Steel erection, electrical installation and station work continue.
- Testing and verification begin. During this process, each bolt is tightened and checked, every electrical sensing device is tested and the trains are inspected. Every motor, brake, air cylinder, valve and safety device will also be tested.
- First train runs and testing continues. Engineers monitor speed, functions, braking, lift-hill performance and stopping positions.
- Accelerometers are used to test the forces at work on the ride and verify that they are within design criteria. The ride manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard of Monthey, Switzerland, will have field technicians and engineers on site conducting and verifying these tests.
- GateKeeper undergoes maintenance and operational checks.
May 11, 2013:
- GateKeeper is slated to unleash its fury on the park's opening day.
Construction by the numbers:
- Nearly 200 concrete footers and 200 steel supports.
- 12 million pounds of concrete.
- 4,164 feet of track.
- Track weight per piece: 7,500 pounds.
- Arriving in 100 shipments.
- More than 100 workers.
- Approximately 8.5 months, or nearly 290 days, from the time of initial site preparation to the scheduled opening of GateKeeper.