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Brasfield & Gorrie Crew Prepares for ’Crunch Time’ in Summer 2008

Thu December 06, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Kerry Lynn Kirby

The stretch of Interstate 65 from the south side of Montgomery north to Prattville is probably one of the most heavily traveled in Alabama.

That’s why the stakes will be so high next summer, when the company will have to meet stringent timetables for work on existing roadway that will slow traffic and close ramps in the work areas, said Temple Millsap, project manager for Brasfield & Gorrie LLC of Birmingham, the contractor for a $79.6 million road- and bridge-widening job in progress on 4.6 mi. (7.4 km) of that stretch.

“There are two 23-day periods in summer 2008 scheduled for rubblization and rehabilitation of the existing roadway. There are heavy penalties for completing these phases past the allotted 23-day periods,” said Millsap, noting the $100,000-per-day penalty is meant to reduce both hazard and inconvenience caused by the work.

“They want to minimize the impact to the public, make it safer for everyone,” he said.

During those periods, traffic will be routed on each side of the newly constructed median, and all ramps on each side will be closed to traffic, Millsap said.

To prepare for the tight deadlines, Brasfield & Gorrie has been spending a lot of time planning and scheduling, he said.

The next four or five months, they will be doing the “heavy work” — grading and paving lanes — in preparation for those crunch times in summer 2008, Millsap said.

The overall job includes construction of additional lanes on I-65 from the north end of the Catoma Creek bridge to the south end of the Mill Street bridge, from the grading, drainage, pavement and concrete pavement rubblization to bridge widening, lighting, signs and signals, according to project information provided by the Alabama Department of Transportation.

The contract also covers the bridge-widening work on I-65 from north of Fairview Avenue to the Alabama River Bridge in Montgomery, ALDOT said.

I-65 through Montgomery was completed in the 1970s, built to handle traffic loads expected 20 years in the future, according to ALDOT.

This project is intended to ease congestion on I-65 in and around Alabama’s capital city, where Highway 80 and Interstate 85 tie in to the interstate, by updating I-65 with an additional lane in each direction on the roadway and bridges as well as rehabilitation of the old roadway.

“The construction of additional lanes several years ago from Prattville to Northern Boulevard was a welcome relief to rush hour congestion. The construction of additional lanes through Montgomery will soon provide greater congestion relief,” according to the ALDOT project sheet, titled “Progress65: A Smooth Ride Ahead.”

Additionally, the concrete there has been settling unevenly and is just falling apart in some places, Millsap said.

“We want to get in there now before it gets worse,” he said.

Workers mobilized at the site July 5, and, so far, the project is on schedule to meet the target October 2009 completion, Millsap said.

The job will include widening seven bridges (one precast and six steel), jacking four bridges, widening and repaving 10 ramps, widening mainline shoulders, adding 3.5 mi. (5.6 km) of lanes in the median (grading, storm drainage, paving and barrier walls), rubblizing and pavement overlay on the existing mainline roadway, and installation of new roadway lighting and signals, he said.

Roughly 40,000 cu. yd. (30,600 cu m) of dirt have been moved on the project already, and another 55,000 cu. yd. (42,000 cu m) have been hauled in to be used, Millsap said.

By the end of the project, roughly 60,000 cu. yd. (45,900 cu m) will be moved out, and roughly 70,000 cu. yd. (53,500 cu m) will be hauled in, he said.

The job also entails 290,000 tons (263,000 t) of asphalt, 35,000 tons (31,800 t) of crushed aggregate base, 30,000 tons (27,200 t) of #57 stone, 15,000 linear ft. (4,600 m) of storm drainage and 220 mi. (354 km) of pavement striping, Millsap said.

Subcontractors on the job include: Alabama Barricade Inc., traffic control devices; Ozark Striping Co., striping and markers; APAC-Southeast Inc., asphalt paving; Abramson LLC, barrier walls; Stone & Sons Electrical Contractors, lighting and signals; and Resonant Machines Inc. Worldwide, concrete rubblization.

B&G currently has 50 people on-site, Millsap said. Including subcontractors, there are roughly 75 to 100 people on any given day, depending on the work being performed that day, he said.

During the two 23-day phases in summer 2008, there will likely be upwards of 200 people on site, Millsap said.

Crews are working in day shifts and night shifts, as much of the work must be done at night under lane closures, he said.

The speed limit on the interstate has been reduced to 45 mph throughout the construction zone, and, occasionally, lanes are shifted, Millsap said.

Other than minor traffic delays, the community should not be drastically affected by the project, except in the outcome, he said. “This project will provide safer and more expedited travel for everyone that may travel through this area.”

Millsap said the size of the project, the complicated nature of the phasing of the work, as well as the risk associated with the compressed schedule required by ALDOT appealed to Brasfield & Gorrie, which was the lower of two bidders.

So far there haven’t been any unexpected challenges on the job, Millsap said. Hopefully, that will continue, or Brasfield & Gorrie could pay dearly in lost revenue.

While the contract also includes the prospect of a $100,000-per-day bonus if the work is completed before 17 days in the 23-day periods, he said that prospect is “very unlikely.” CEG

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