APAC Warranties Mississippi Road Project for Seven Years

Wed August 17, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Maybelle G. Cagle

An Interstate 55 overlaying project near the Montgomery/Carroll county line on Mississippi’s Highway 8 may look like routine work, but it will have a unique feature.

It will be warrantied by the contractor for seven years after completion as part of a maintained pavement project.

The $9.7-million project spans 15 mi. and was awarded to APAC of Mississippi in March by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). The contractor has 179 working days from March 10 to finish the project, which is approximately 25 percent completed.

MDOT’s departmental pavement recommendation committee decides whether or not a project is suited for a warranty.

“For instance, we would not want a project that has underlying problems that will just be overlaid to be a warranty, because the underlying problems would cause pavement distress and we could not hold the contractor accountable for something that was beyond his control,” said Randy Battey, state research engineer of MDOT.

This is the 11th warranty project undertaken by MDOT. The first one let was in August 2000.

“The first two were five- year asphalt warranties, the third was a 10-year concrete warranty and the rest of them have been seven-year asphalt,” Battey added.

The warranty projects have advantages and disadvantages, noted Battey. “For the most part, we see an increase in quality on the warranty projects as opposed to the non-warranty.”

He added, “Since contractors know they are responsible for the project five, seven or 10 years, they tend to pay attention to details during the construction.

“Many of them actually go beyond our specs and do things that they normally would not do, such as sealing the longitudinal pavement joint on asphalt construction, changing equipment during construction if they think another paver for example would give a better mat.”

He noted another advantage is generally only confident contractors will bid on the warranty project, because they are confident they can provide a good product.

“So, it is a way to select quality even though we are still taking the low bid,” added Battey.

“Another advantage is that there is less departmental oversight required on a warranty project. Unlike conventional projects, MDOT only assigns one person to keep a project diary for the warranty project during construction. There is no inspection required for construction of the pavement.

“MDOT doesn’t care how they do it, only that it performs for the required length of time. It also does not require MDOT to spend any money to maintain the pavement over the length of the warranty.”

The major disadvantage is higher cost. “We are currently paying about 12 percent more for our warranty projects, when compared to comparable non-warranty projects,” Battey said.

Bonding also is an issue for some of the contractors.

“Since they have to get a bond for the entire warranty period, some of the contractors claim they have difficulty obtaining bonding,” he said.

The scope of the I-55 work goes beyond the asphalt.

“Trees along the roadway will be cleared out to 70 ft. from the edge of the travel lanes to prevent colliding with trees if a vehicle lost control and left the roadway,” said Jesse Stewart, assistant district engineer-construction for MDOT.

APAC currently has 41 people working on the project.

“One of the biggest construction challenges that we face daily is the very high-volume, high speed Interstate 55 traffic, and keeping it a 100 percent safe travel and working environment for everyone,” said Mike Bogue, vice president of APAC-Mississippi. “Another very big daily challenge is that of rebuilding the existing roadway under a seven-year maintenance agreement with MDOT. So far everything has gone very well and we anticipate that the finished pavement will perform to our very high expectations.”

Employees are working approximately 70 hours a week, said Bogue. Sometimes, they work more when additional early/late evening traffic control safety measures are required.

“Safety for the public and each of our workers, on this and every APAC project, is our No. 1 priority,” added Bogue.

The base crews are working from is concrete pavement that had been overlaid with asphalt several years ago.

“Due to its very high volume traffic use and subsequent wheel rutting, we are simply milling off variable thicknesses of the existing asphalt and replacing it with new, including minor shoulder paving,” said Bogue.

Primary heavy equipment pieces currently being used on the project are a Roadtec 180 Series asphalt paver, a Roadtec 2500 Series “shuttle-buggy” (material transfer vehicle), several Ingersoll-Rand 125 Series steel-wheel vibratory rollers, a Roadtec RX-900 cold-milling machine, Komatsu P61, P41 and P31 bulldozers and three Komatsu PC200 trackhoes, plus many tractor-trailer hauling units and several additional support pieces. CEG