Crews Work on Michigan's 'Golden Corridor'

📅   Wed July 26, 2017 - Midwest Edition #15
Irwin Rapoport


The 90,000 cars and trucks that daily travel along a 3.7-mi. stretch of M-59/Hall Road between M-53 and Romeo Plank are the biggest challenge for the crews of Angelo Iafrate Construction as they work to complete the $60 million rebuilding of the highway.
The 90,000 cars and trucks that daily travel along a 3.7-mi. stretch of M-59/Hall Road between M-53 and Romeo Plank are the biggest challenge for the crews of Angelo Iafrate Construction as they work to complete the $60 million rebuilding of the highway.
The 90,000 cars and trucks that daily travel along a 3.7-mi. stretch of M-59/Hall Road between M-53 and Romeo Plank are the biggest challenge for the crews of Angelo Iafrate Construction as they work to complete the $60 million rebuilding of the highway. The work, along the “Golden Corridor,” began in March 2016 and is expected to be completed September 19, 2018. “This project will improve stability, make traffic flow better and extend the life of the roadway by at least 25 years with regular maintenance,” said Jim Petronski, MDOT project manager. Despite the construction, all the businesses in the corridor will remain accessible and pedestrian access is being maintained.

The 90,000 cars and trucks that daily travel along a 3.7-mi. stretch of M-59/Hall Road between M-53 and Romeo Plank are the biggest challenge for the crews of Angelo Iafrate Construction as they work to complete the $60 million rebuilding of the highway.

The work, along the “Golden Corridor,” began in March 2016 and is expected to be completed September 19, 2018. This year's construction season focuses on the rebuilding of M-59 between M-53/Delco Boulevard to just west of Garfield Road. The 2018 work covers the area from Garfield to Romeo Plank.

The east-west concrete road, four lanes in each direction, will retain its lane configuration when completed, but traffic flow will be improved and it will be converted into a traditional asphalt-based road surface. The construction is seeing crews working mainly day shifts, with some night work, not only rebuilding the road, but also upgrading ramps, repairing and adding sidewalks, improving drainage with a new storm water sewer, replacing signs and traffic signals, and enhancing the landscape.

The construction is taking place in the communities of Sterling Heights, Utica, Clinton, Macomb and Shelby townships.

“This project will improve stability, make traffic flow better and extend the life of the roadway by at least 25 years with regular maintenance,” said Jim Petronski, MDOT project manager. “MDOT plans out their work years in advance, but design on this particular project started over 18 months ago. Access will be improved by providing a safer, pothole free roadway with improved traffic signal progression. Each community has been involved since the beginning of the planning stages. Through our continued partnership with our local partners, we have added many enhancements to the project, including decorative crosswalks and mast arms just to name a few.”

M-59 began its life on July 1, 1919 and is now “one of Michigan's most heavily travelled roads.” The trunkline highway crosses the northern part of Metropolitan Detroit between Howell at I-96 and I-94 on the Chesterfield–Harrison Township line, near Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Macomb County.

The concrete roadway being replaced was built 22 years ago.

“Anyone who has driven M-59 recently can report that it has been in rough shape with numerous potholes requiring crews to constantly be out on M-59 blocking lanes in order to fill potholes,” said Petronski. “In accordance with state law, all projects that have a pavement cost of more than $1.5 million dollars worth of pavement are required to go through a calculation called the Life Cylce Cost Analysis. This process compares the present cost of both the concrete fix and asphalt fix while adding in maintenance costs over the same period of time. The cheaper of these options is then used.”

Despite the construction, all the businesses in the corridor will remain accessible and pedestrian access is being maintained.

“Three lanes are open in each direction from M-53/Delco Blvd. to Romeo Plank every day, between 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., including weekends, and usually two lanes from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m, unless heavy equipment needs room and requires road to briefly have only one lane open,” said Cross.

The work on the eastbound M-59 bridge over M-53 is completed and currently has three lanes open as traffic merges into the workzone east of M-53. Westbound M-59 over M-53 will have all four lanes open, including the ramp to southbound M-53.

Tetra Tech designed the new road infrastructure, with an emphasis on a roadway that can better withstand the impact of truck traffic.

Greg Hooper, Angelo Iafrate's senior project manager, P.E., said the rebuilding of the 2.5 mi. section between M-53 and Garfield took place in March.

“We started the project by putting in a temporary widening in the median — westbound and eastbound that allowed us to move the traffic to the inside lanes and let us reconstruct the outside lanes and the shoulders,” he said. “With 90,000 cars utilizing M-59 on a daily basis, MDOT decided to construct the project in this manner to allow maximum access to the travelling public and the businesses that front M-59. It's not the optimum way or most efficient way for us to reconstruct the road, but we understood the challenges associated with maintaining access to the businesses, motorists, and residents along this route.”

Night work is being scheduled for several elements of the project, which includes the M-59 overpass over M-53.

“This involves patching portions of the road and repairing the bridge deck substructure,” said Hooper, whose crews are now removing the existing concrete pavement and will be recycling it into MDOT 4G aggregate to be re-used on the project.

The materials being removed include 100,000 cu. yds. of concrete and 445,000 cu. yds. of earthwork.

The new road will have an 8-in. Class II sand sub-base with several lines of edge drain, that will be covered with 16 in. of MDOT 4G aggregate and topped with 7.5 inches of new asphalt.

“It's designed to be a long life road section,” said Hooper. “The traffic, especially in the morning and evening rushhours, will present a challenge with trucking — removing the existing concrete section and aggregate base and hauling in the new aggregate sub-base section.”

New materials for the project include 164,250 tons of asphalt, 15,000 cu. yds. of concrete, 1,000 tons of steel/rebar, 425,000 tons of aggregate and 120,000 tons of sand.

“The keys to success on a very visible, high impact project like this is close coordination with MDOT and their consultants and our construction team,” said Hooper, who has managed many complex and tough projects. “We maintain very close coordination about job planning and job scheduling, that allows us to adapt to the changes in order to produce a safe, quality product for MDOT and the state.”

The three phase project has three superintendents — Joe Wright, Rich Green and Todd Wicks.

“This allows us to maintain a consistent progress,” said Hooper. “They are all very experienced individuals, all with 20 plus years in public roadway construction.”

On peak days there will be an average of 100 Angelo Iafrate and subcontractor employees on site. There are 27 subcontractors working on the project, with the major ones being Cadillac Asphalt for the asphalt paving, Rauhorn Electric for electrical and traffic signal work, Poco Barricades for temporary traffic control, Z Contractors for the bridge work and PK Contracting for pavement marking.

In addition to weekly meetings with MDOT and daily interactions at the job site, Hooper and his team coordinate benchmarks with the subcontractors.

Utility issues also are a major challenge, and they involve numerous gas, electric and water lines that service all the businesses along M-59.

“We're installing close to 8.5 mi. of new storm water sewer and that leads to encounters with numerous underground utilities,” said Hooper. “It's a constant challenge identifying those known existing underground utility locations to avoid any unforeseen conflicts and not interrupt anyone's service.”

Work on M-59 will be suspended from late October to March, which gives additional time to plan the final stage of the project.

Angelo Iafrate will employ more than 50 vehicles and pieces of equipment on the project, which will have an onsite mechanic to ensure that repairs can be done quickly.

“We're going to utilize a Trimble GPS system on our Cat D6 and D5 dozers, along with our Cat 140 graders to place and grade the subbase and aggregate base,” said Hooper. “We plan on maximizing our efficiency for the installation of the new cross-section of the project.”

Other equipment includes: Cat, 365, 345, 336, 325, 315, 312 307 excavators and Volvo, EC 380, EC 220 ECR 88 excavators; Cat 40H and 140M graders; Cat, 563 and CS533 rollers and Hamm, HD13VIOs rollers; Cat 972, 962, 950 and 938 loaders; and Cat, D6N, D6K, D5K and D5Gs dozers.

Our mechanics working on site are Brian Flynn and Danny Baltierra, who have a combined 30 plus years experience with Angelo Iafrate.

“Angelo Iafrate has implemented electronic dispatching for all repairs and scheduled maintenance which has significantly improved our capabilities in prioritizing the work,” said Flynn, “elevating our repair efficiencies to be at the forefront of the construction industry.”

Assisting Flynn and Baltierra, are several lubrication mechanics that service the equipment at night or early in the morning. Foster Blue Water makes daily fuel deliveries.

Angelo Iafrate purchases equipment and vehicles from Michigan CAT in Shelby Township — about three miles north of the project, as well as AIS Equipment in Richmond and ALTA Equipment in New Hudson.

“All of these vendors are key in supporting our equipment availability and efficiency,” said Hooper.

Hooper noted that planning for the project was extensive and that the schedule and game plan is constantly updated to factor in the field changes which gives the general contractor the ability to maximize work progress.

“The traffic and access to businesses and the motoring public remains a real challenge,” he said, “and it requires an excellent pre-planning and coordination with MDOT. It's not been easy, but we're succeeding thus far and a project of this magnitude adds to our company's resume to manage complex projects.”

CEG