$63M Project Beefs Up Major Midwest Artery in Indiana

Mon September 13, 2004 - Midwest Edition
Darryl Seland

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) awarded the $63-million contract for the Borman Expressway Project –– also known as 80/94 –– as a Scope Joint Venture, meaning that the “individual contractors will use their own expertise and resources to complete their parts of the project.”

So when Superior Construction Company in Gary, IN, landed the contract one of the resources it relied on was West Side Tractor in South Holland, IL.

Superior purchased three new John Deere bulldozers –– a 650H, 750C and 850C –– from West Side when the project began.

“We also just got a brand new [John Deere] 772CH Series 2 grader [from West Side],” said Rob Joseph, vice president of operation for Superior. “That’s our pride and joy. It’s a beautiful piece of equipment.”

According to Jay Peterson, shop superintendent of Superior, although West Side offers excellent product support, the John Deere equipment’s design reduces downtime. “I like to see nothing in the shop here being worked on,” he joked. “It’s all out there working.”

Superior’s responsibility on the 80/94 widening includes adding a new lane and shoulder in both directions for a stretch of 5.5 mi. (8 km) between Colfax Avenue and Georgia Street. New ramps and mainline also will be constructed.

“It’s three lanes, we are going to widen it to four with a collector lane, which makes the traversing between the overpasses easier,” said Joseph. “It is supposed to lighten up the mainline traffic going to and from Chicago on 80/94.”

The route is a major artery for the Midwest and one of the busiest expressways in the world, averaging approximately 155,000 vehicles a day, according to INDOT.

Superior and subcontracting crews are working 10-hour shifts, six days a week during this phase of the project and, as Joseph pointed out, there is a lot of muck in this area that has to be remove and replaced with slag.

The project will use 2,000 cu. yds. of structural concrete; 200 tons of reinforcing steel; 250,000 cu. yds. of site grading; 285,000 cu. yds. of peat excavation; 135,000 cu. yds. of pavement subbase and 75,000 sq. ft. of sound walls.

Superior has married its widening work with a previous responsibility it had on the 80/94 project.

“[The widening] is adjoined by a project we got previously, roughly a $20 million job reconstructing three overpasses [Martin Luther King, Broadway and Chase],” said Joseph.

So the company has basically merged the two projects into one. The first project, the bridges, was started back in February; The second, the mainline, was picked up by Superior at the end of May.

“We got out there early in March,” Joseph said.

The bridges are scheduled for completion in November of this year and the roadway widening is set for the middle of next year, according to Joseph. The project has 5 phases including the bridges and road widening.

Superior’s Biggest Asset

Jay Peterson is a third-generation employee of Superior. His grandmother worked for the company and his father served as shop superintendent before him. Peterson’s older brother also works for Superior as an operator. And this is not out of the ordinary for the company, which prides itself on being a family company.

“There are people that have pretty much spent their entire careers at Superior and there are quite a few that are even second and third generation employees –– their grandfathers have worked here, there fathers have worked here,” said Joseph. “We like promoting friends and family.”

Superior has more than 60 employees working full time, all the time, and even more when things get busy among all of its divisions.

“Right now, with our refinery division, we’ve got over 400 people,” said Joseph.

“We’ve got a lot of money invested in our equipment but in all honesty, without sounding cliché, the greatest investment, greatest return and greatest asset Superior has is its employees. The finest group of employees in the country,” he added.

Superior Construction has been in business since 1938. It specializes in highways, refineries and steel mill work and has been involved with heavy industrial and heavy highway projects for the last 35 years.