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Aggressive Schedule Set as I90 Upgrades Continue

Wed January 05, 2011 - Midwest Edition
Kathy Bergstrom

Contractors working on a resurfacing project on a 5-mi. (8 km) stretch of Interstate 90 in northern Ohio are contending with an aggressive schedule, challenging soil conditions and traffic demands in the near two-year project.

The $34.1 million project got under way in March and is scheduled for completion this fall. The expanse of four-lane highway is in Ashtabula County in northern Ohio east of State Route 11 to west of State Route 193/84.

The Interstate’s westbound lanes have been repaved, and work will begin on the eastbound lanes soon. In addition to replacing the pavement, the project includes the rehabilitation of four highway bridges and four overhead bridges.

One of the challenges of the project was the amount of temporary pavement that was installed, said Bill Glass, District 4 project engineer with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Average daily traffic on the heavily traveled road is 26,730 cars, and the DOT wanted to maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction at all times.

In order to achieve that goal, general contractor Shelly & Smith of Zanesville, Ohio, had to install temporary pavement next to the existing eastbound lanes. Once that was completed last spring, one lane of westbound traffic was relocated to the eastbound side.

On the westbound side, contractors replaced pavement a half width at a time to allow another lane of westbound traffic to remain open throughout the project.

“They completely removed all of the existing concrete pavement and asphalt shoulders and completely rebuilt the pavement with brand new asphalt,” Glass said. “There was a substantial amount of temporary pavement involved in the project.”

The project also had some aggressive timelines, requiring the completion of the westbound lanes in one season. That’s challenging a half width at a time, Glass said.

“It was challenging for the contractor. They worked six days a week and 10 to 12 hours a day in order to accomplish that,” he said.

“This season we rebuilt the pavement on the westbound side, and we made it wide enough to accommodate all the traffic next season.”

As soon as weather allows this winter, the entire eastbound side will be relocated to the westbound lanes.

Then work will begin removing the pavement on the eastbound side.

Glass said he’s only aware of one other project in the district that had been done using the contra flow method, but it’s becoming more common.

The approach to rerouting traffic is called contra flow, because one lane of westbound traffic was moved over to the side where traffic was traveling the opposite direction.

“We put up a lot of signs to try and make it clear to people what’s happening,” Glass said.

A divider was placed between the two lanes, and a crash cushion was installed at the point that the two westbound lanes separated. The cushion was hit 16 times, but the crashes resulted in only minor injuries to the DOT’s knowledge, Glass said.

Still the DOT wanted to see fewer crashes and will look at finding ways to prevent them on future projects.

Dan Kirsch, general superintendent with Shelly & Sands, said one of challenges of the project was fighting the weather last spring to install the temporary pavement on the eastbound lanes.

“We knew … it was going to be a tough schedule to try to get a whole westbound lane plus temporary roadways built,” he said.

The project also had an additional $1 million in unanticipated work because of unstable soil that had to be removed, Kirsch said.

The contractor had as many as 12 Komatsu, Kobelco and Caterpillar excavators ranging from small to large on the job at one time.

There were eight or nine mostly Caterpillar and one John Deere dozers on the project, according to Kirsch. Case backhoes also were used.

They also used eight 30 and 40-ton Volvo and Caterpillar rock trucks to remove the rubble from the site.

Fine grading was completed with a Caterpillar 16G grader.

A Caterpillar trencher installed the underdrain.

“It’s a tough project because of the soils and the removal of soils,” Kirsch said. “But with good luck and hard work we’ll get it done.”

Before work can begin on repaving the eastbound lanes, contractors have to use a process called cement stabilization. The contractor brings in a large machine that’s similar to a large rotary tiller to spread cement on top of the existing sub grade soil and mixes the cement into the soil.

The cement strengthens the soils, because some of them have silts and clays that are difficult to stabilize, Glass said.

After the soil is stabilized, contractors will install perforated tubing and dig out trenches for under drains. The drains are covered with 6 in. (15.2 cm) of crushed limestone, and the asphalt is laid on top of the limestone.

In addition to the highway resurfacing the project includes the rehabilitation of four mainline bridges — eastbound and westbound bridges over the Ashtabula River and Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks.

Keffler Bridge Co. of Canfield, Ohio, is the bridge work contractor.

The bridges were redecked and received new beams and other structural improvements and have been completed. Similar work will be completed on the eastbound bridges this year.

Two overhead bridges at Plymouth Road and Plymouth Ridge Road also were rehabilitated. The Plymouth Road Bridge was redecked, and the Plymouth Road Bridge was patched.

This year work on the Wright Avenue overhead bridge will be sealed and the State Route 193 overhead bridge will be redecked.

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