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ALDOT Sees End to Series of Grade, Drain Projects

Mon September 20, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero


The view looking west along Cedar Creek bridge.
The view looking west along Cedar Creek bridge.
The view looking west along Cedar Creek bridge. Crews working on a triple barrel culvert extension with a diversion channel in the background. Blasting and removing rock in front of a stabilized slope. Double barrel pre-cast culvert over a wick drain installation. A wick drain installation area.

The last in a series of grade and drain projects in Mississippi along Corridor V in the 2nd Division is currently under way. The final result will tie the Mississippi portion of Corridor V to I-65 near Decatur/Huntsville. The termini of Corridor V are I-55 in Batesville, Miss. and I-24 west of Chattanooga, Tenn.

The contract amount for this particular project is $14 million, and was awarded by the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) to W.S. Newell & Sons Inc., Montgomery, Ala. The project manager is Tim Harris. The project covers 7.425 mi. (12 km) and began on April 12, with work expected to continue for 425 working days.

The base and pave portion of Corridor V between Mississippi and the City of Russellville in Franklin County, Ala., will be the next and final phase of construction before the facility is completely opened. It is part of the Appalachian Development Program intended to spur economic development in the rural areas through which it passes.

The Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) is part of the Appalachian Regional Commission in the United States.

“As with all projects that require significant amounts of earthwork, one of the major challenges this project faces is balancing our cut and fill operations within the allowable 50 acres of disturbance to uphold our commitment to the environment. At the same time we have to not get gridlocked in a situation where there is excess, usable material but nowhere to place it because the maximum disturbed acreage has been reached,” explained Rebecca L. White of the media and community relations bureau of ALDOT.

The project requires an estimated 1.4 million yds. of excavation, which includes approximately 200,000 cu. yds. (152,910 cu m) of rock. Much of the rock is pinnacled and contains seams of soil, which must be blasted adjacent to the existing State Route 24, a two-lane facility that is momentarily closed during each blast.

A total of 6,419 ft. (1,956 m) of coated corrugated metal roadway pipe rehabilitation is included. According to White, this process restores the structural integrity and increases the hydraulic efficiency of metal pipes near the end of their operational life cycle that were installed under deep fills on older projects. To excavate and replace those metal pipes would have resulted in the entire roadway being closed for an extended period of time.

Approximately 8,000 ft. (2,438 m) of vertical drainage wicks have been installed, along with 1,000 ft. (304.8 m) of mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining wall.

Bridge and box culvert extension also have been installed, consisting of two four-barrel culverts, one triple-barrel culvert and one double-barrel culvert. The end result is 1,720 barrel ft. of culverts.

White noted that so far, three sinkholes have been identified and more are anticipated. The sinkholes will require remediation.

The August estimate was that work was 15 percent complete, with 17 percent of the allotted time used.

“The location the contractor started at was wrought with most of the more complex items of work including the heaviest rock formations, but based on their assessment, was first in the critical path to completion,” White said. “This scenario was somewhat anticipated and should rapidly reverse once some of these items are completed.”

Subject of Research

A unique aspect of the project is that Auburn University will conduct research on the somewhat new design of the sediment basins that are included in the contract.

“This is one of many research projects ALDOT funds each year,” White said. “This particular project reflects ALDOT’s commitment to improving its efforts to protect the quality of our state’s waters as we build roads and bridges.”

According to White, the primary focus of the study is to assess performance characteristics of temporary sediment basins, examine design practices, and perform a cost-benefit analysis of sediment basins. The study will provide comprehensive information on how newly designed sediment basins function under various rainfall events and at different stages of construction activities. The results of the proposed study will provide practical and implementable criteria along with standardized design guidelines for determining the applicability, need, and improved installations practices of sediment basins to be used on ALDOT highway construction sites.

“ALDOT has planned to install five sediment basins as sediment control measures for the project,” White said. “Sediment basins are designed using the length to width ratio of about 3:1, basin depth of four to five feet, one to three porous baffles, and one floating skimmer. The three-baffle system reduces the flow of stormwater while promoting sedimentation, and the skimmer, which is located at the downstream end of the basin, discharges relatively high-quality water near the water surface, which is theoretically the least turbid.”

Following Other DOTs

The new design was adopted based upon limited research and intermediate-scale/field-scale monitoring conducted by Pennsylvania State University and North Carolina State University. This practice has been adopted and used by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and North Carolina Department of Transportation.

“During preparation of the proposal, we have constructed an intermediate-scale sediment-basin model at the NCAT erosion and sediment control testing facility with funding support from Auburn University Highway Research Center,” White explained. “This model is for training of graduate students in developing and testing monitoring devices/programs and for testing different design alternatives of sediment basins.”

The study is designed to help ALDOT engineers to develop engineering design guides and standards for sediment basins based on a scientific understanding and evaluation of sediment basin performance characteristics that are more relevant to Alabama, and ALDOT highway construction sites, according to White.

“The results of the proposed study will provide practical and implementable criteria along with standardized design guidelines for determining the applicability, need, and improved installations practices of sediment basins to be used on ALDOT highway construction sites,” she said. “By formulating easily understood and accurate site condition data sets, guidelines and design standards, engineering professionals will have a design mechanism available to allow them to appropriately select sediment control measures that will provide an effective means of minimizing sediment transport during construction efforts.”

On the Job

Major subcontractors include Alabama Bridge Builders Inc., Pelham, Ala., for bridge construction; Glasgow Construction Company Inc., Guin, Ala., for concrete culverts, inlets, etc.; Parker Grassing Inc., Opelika, Ala., for seeding and mulching; Apache Construction Corp., Tarrant, Ala., for drilling and blasting; Rogers Group Inc., Tuscumbia, Ala., for asphalt paving; Ozark Striping Company Inc., Ozark, Ala., for paint striping and pavement marking; Charles E. Watts Inc., Gadsden, Ala., for “G” treatment; Nilex Construction LLC, Centennial, Colo., for wick drain; H & J Contractors LLC, Jasper, Ala., for highway trucking; Tusco Fence Inc., Tuscaloosa, Ala., for fencing; Tri-County Construction Inc., Hamilton, Ala., for concrete slope paving; and Reynolds Inliner LLC, Orleans, Ind., for pipe rehabilitation.

Major equipment used on the job includes a Caterpillar 375 hydraulic excavator, three Caterpillar 330 hydraulic excavators, one Komatsu 220 hydraulic excavator, one Caterpillar hydraulic excavator with hydraulic hoe ram, two Caterpillar 773 off-road trucks, four Volvo A-40 off- road articulated six-wheel drive trucks, six Caterpillar 631 scrapers, one Caterpillar 623 elevating scraper, three Caterpillar 140H motorgraders, two Ingersoll Rand SD compactors, one Ingersoll Rand SF compactor, two Caterpillar 815 compactors, two Caterpillar IT-38 rubber tired loaders, one Volvo L-90 rubber tired loader, one John Deere 9920 tractor with drag, one Mack highway water truck, and one Kenworth road tractor with a lo-boy trailer. CEG