Musk's Company Talks Tunnel Project Near Stadium

Archer Western Begins I-64 Bridge Over ACCA Railroad

Fri October 29, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni



The I-64 corridor between Hampton and Richmond, VA, is undergoing three major construction and maintenance projects as part of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) improvement plan for the highly traveled interstate.

The corridor improvement project consists of work on the bridge over the ACCA Railroad Yard, rehabilitation of concrete pavement at the west end of Richmond, and the Coliseum Central Highway Improvement Project (CCHIP) in Hampton. Work has already started on all three projects, which will cost nearly $132 million when they are completed.

Archer Western Contractors LTD, headquartered in Atlanta, has been awarded the $23-million contract for work on the I-64 bridge over the ACCA railroad switching yard just west of the I-64/I-95 interchange in Henrico County.

The company’s Richmond-based office will be replacing the steel support beams and bridge deck plus widening the bridge to four lanes. A ground mounted sound wall will be installed in addition to a metal sound wall on the bridge and MSE retaining walls. Asphalt overlay is included in the project as well as miscellaneous utilities like storm drain work and signage.

Ray Johnston, VDOT’s project manager for the ACCA job, said, “The main consideration for the new bridge is the condition of the existing bridge deck.”

Work began in September and will continue in three stages, which have been designed to minimize traffic impact and will allow the contractor to retain at least three travel lanes in each direction throughout the construction until completed in late 2007.

Steve Ordung, Archer Western’s senior project manager, said that preliminary work over the past several weeks has included shifting traffic, installing asphalt overlay, placing barrier service, and clearing and grubbing.

Stage one of the ACCA bridge project will involve substructure repair with work occurring beneath the bridge, mostly out of the way of traffic.

According to Ordung, during this stage the company will be “constructing the widened portion of the bridge, which is built on drilled shaft foundations that are between 48 and 54 inches in diameter.”

The contractor will also demolish portions of the existing bridge deck, erect new steel and make 11-ft. (3.3 m) travel lanes with concrete barriers. When stage one is completed, traffic will be placed on the new widened portions and stage two will begin.

Ordung said, “The new bridge construction we will do ourselves except for the drill shafts.”

When stage two begins in 2005, workers will be working in the middle of the bridge and constructing 11-ft travel lanes with concrete barriers. The contractor plans on removing, and then replacing, the existing bridge deck and steel girders. This portion of the construction will restrict access from I-295 North to Staples Mill Road exit; however, VDOT is giving drivers two alternate routes to get around the work zone.

Ordung cannot say what equipment will be used as of yet during the second stage, but he does confirm that “a unique erection scheme will be utilized in order to minimize staging lifting equipment from the railroad track area.” He explained, “The challenge is to be able to construct this without impeding the railroad switching yard and I-64 traffic.

“What complicates it is the rail yard underneath it. It has 10 tracks underneath,” Johnston added. “We have to coordinate with CXS railroad to get access to the railroad; we have to coordinate with them everyday.”

In late 2006, stage three of the work on the ACCA Bridge should begin. This segment will consist of westbound deck replacement, 11-ft. travel lanes with concrete barriers and cleanup work. Westbound traffic will be shifted to the right of the bridge during stage three.

VDOT does anticipate some impact on I-64 traffic, in addition to the I-295 restrictions during stage two, for the duration of the ACCA bridge project. The work zone will be in place “24/7,” and difficulties may occur because the travel lanes will be more narrow, which will slow down traffic.

To ease these delays, Johnston said, “We have to maintain three lanes of traffic during the day and have lane closures at night.” He also said the contractor will be using “top-down construction, which means work as much as you can from above.”

Delays and sluggish traffic may be bothersome to drivers, but the agency encourages the public to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. The original ACCA Bridge was built in 1967 and currently carries four lanes westbound, plus the Staples Mill Road exit ramp, and three lanes eastbound, which ends up being approximately 151,000 vehicles per day. This figure is expected to increase to 211,400 vehicles by 2025.

According to VDOT, the bridge is in poor condition. The bridge deck and substructure are deteriorating, and the backwall abutment needs patching. Additionally, there are pothole and pavement problems and, of course, congestion. Therefore, once the bridge work is finished, there will be reduced congestion and the bridge’s life will be extended. Drivers can also anticipate a smoother ride and an easier merge from Staples Mill Road onto I-64 East.

The $3.1 million pavement rehabilitation between I-295 (Exit 177) and Parham Road (Exit 181) awarded to Mega Contractors Inc., Rockville, VA, is scheduled maintenance planned for this section of the I-64 corridor. During this past summer, the company began resurfacing the 4 mi. (6.4 km) segment of concrete pavement in Western Henrico County. The project also includes patching existing concrete pavement with asphalt and a 4-in. (10.2 cm) asphalt overlay to deal with severe pavement deterioration in this highly traveled section.

Work will occur in the evenings, Sundays through Fridays, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., between July and October 2004. The contractor will resume the pavement rehabilitation in the spring and continue through May 2005.

The reason for the seasonal division on the project, according to Gary Jennings, assistant resident engineer for maintenance in the Sandston Residency, is the different types of asphalt mixes being used. Before winter, crews must put down an intermediate SMA 19 (Stone Matrix Asphalt). Jennings added, “Next spring they’ll come back, when weather permits, and will put SMA 12.5 surface mix down.”

Mega Contractors owns an ABG Titan 525 with a double tamper bar screed that works especially well with the stone matrix asphalt mixes. Brent Moore, vice president of Mega Contractors, believes the German-made ABG Titan is better than most other pavers. The paver can produce 92 percent compaction at the screed using an SMA mix.

“It gives you compaction and a smooth ride for the vehicles using the road as compared to a conventional paver,” Moore explained. “In a conventional paver it can be done, but a tamper bar has improved [the results].”

Moore said that SMA is a relatively new product in the United States, introduced approximately 10 years ago. Virginia began using it in 1995, but it became mainstreamed in 2002.

“It is now the premier pavement type used on interstates and major primaries,” said Moore. “It is the number one surface of choice.” Moore also maintains that not many other contractors lay SMA. “We were one of the first contractors in Virginia to use SMA, and we have done more projects and placed more tons than any other Virginia contractor –– two or three times as much.”

Once the SMA 12.5 mix is down, Mega Contractors will finish the job by adjusting guardrails and installing new pavement markings, pavement markers, and shoulder stone.

Virginia Beach-based E.V. Williams Construction Company is the primary contractor for CCHIP in Hampton, which is also part of the I-64 corridor improvement plan and has been under way since June 2001. The work zone encompasses approximately 2.5 mi. (4 km) on I-64 from I-664 on the eastern end to the Hampton Roads Center Parkway on the western end. It is scheduled for completion during summer 2005. The Federal Highway Administration is funding the entire CCHIP job, presently estimated to cost $105 million.

The goal of the project is to improve access, safety, and traffic flow along I-64 between the I-664 split and Hampton Roads Center Parkway, including the Mercury Boulevard interchange and the Magruder Boulevard exit. The number of cars that travel that section of I-64 daily is 138,000, increasing to 170,000 during peak travel times, which makes that stretch the second busiest corridor in the entire Hampton Roads region. In addition, approximately 66,000 cars use Mercury Boulevard each day.

To ease congestion through the corridor, the highway improvement project will enhance several vital areas. Plans call for replacing the traditional cloverleaf design at Mercury Blvd. Interchange with ramps and flyovers and adding High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes down the center of the highway throughout the length of the project zone. The project will also add auxiliary (continuous merge) lanes from Hampton Roads Center Parkway through Mercury Boulevard interchange. In addition, both sides of the interstate will be widened throughout the project zone. Furthermore, there will be reconstruction of 26 lane mi. (41.6 km) of concrete pavement.

The CCHIP contract also includes work on two sound walls, drainage, signs, lighting, and retaining walls. The contractor will bring in 180,000 sq yards (150,000 sq m) of concrete paving, 110,000 tons (100,000 t) of asphalt and 325,000 cu yds. (250,000 c m) of borrow.

A total of seven bridges are included in the contract: construction of four new bridges and rebuilding or widening three bridges. E.V. Williams has subcontracted McLean Contracting Company, Glen Burnie, MD, to perform the work on the bridges.

Work on the Mercury Boulevard Bridge will consist of replacing the existing two spans with a single span, widening the bridge, and adding HOV lanes to the middle of the bridge. The current Newmarket Creek Bridge will be widened, and environmental barriers will be reinstalled to protect adjacent wetlands. Crews demolished the old Magruder Boulevard Bridge and began construction of a taller and wider new overpass in 2002.

Three new bridges will be built to accommodate flyover “J”, which will be the new entrance to I-64 westbound from Mercury Blvd. northbound. The first bridge crosses over I-64, and the second crosses over Mercury Boulevard. The third bridge will cross the exit loop from I-64 westbound to Mercury Boulevard Southbound.

Flyover “I”, the new exit from I-64 eastbound to Mercury Boulevard northbound, will consist of one bridge. This bridge will be built to allow flyover to pass above the exit ramp from I-64 eastbound to Mercury Boulevard southbound and above the southbound lanes of Mercury Boulevard.

In addition to the bridge construction, a great deal of work will be performed on at least nine ramps. This includes building new exit and entrance ramps and widening and moving existing exit and entrance ramps.

These three major endeavors, as part of the I-64 corridor improvement project, are on track and all should be completed by late 2007.