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Caltrans Ahead of Schedule on $51M Fairmead Interchange

Mon April 13, 2009 - West Edition
Erik Pisor

FCI Constructors Inc. (FCI) is on track to complete a 3-mi. (4.8 km) expansion to a stretch of State Route 99, four to five months ahead of schedule.

Caltrans tapped FCI for the $51.1 million SR-99 Fairmead Interchange project, which is located near Madera, Calif., in the San Joaquin Valley. The project is scheduled for completion in June, said Gloria Rodriguez, public information officer for Caltrans District 6.

Construction started in December 2006 and had an original completion date of November 2009.

SR-99 Fairmead Interchange project is designed to improve roadway safety and provide congestion relief. As a result, Caltrans added one additional northbound and southbound travel lane, expanding a portion of SR-99 into a six-lane divided freeway on an ultimate eight-lane right of way, said Tony Inocencio, project manager for FCI Constructors.

Freeway shoulders also were expanded to standard width, as part of the lane expansion, and the entire 3-mi. stretch of SR-99 was replaced with new Portland Cement Concrete Pavement (PCCP).

The majority of the PCCP was placed during freezing or 100-plus degree temperature, which represented a challenge for FCI Constructors.

“In order to get the PCCP to come up to strength in the winter we had to add additional cement to the mix to help the concrete cure on time,” Inocencio said. “In the summer the PCCP was placed during the night to avoid the heat of the day and avoid cracks from developing.”

Specialty equipment utilized and owned by FCI Constructors during the freeway expansion and repaving included the Gomaco 2600 PCC paving machine, which was responsible for placing the Lean ConcreteBase (LCB) and PCCP, and the Erie Strayer Concrete batch plant.

“The various types of specialized equipment the contractor has been using to get the job done has played a vital role in this project,” Rodriguez said, adding the contractor’s ability to secure onsite locations for gravel operations and the storing of dirt and other materials was also key to the project’s delivery.

Aside from freeway expansion, the project involved removing at grade crossings, which allowed the local traffic to cross SR-99 and railroad tracks.

Two bridges that carry local traffic above SR-99 and the railroad crossing replaced the two at grade crossings, which had previous safety and operational problems.

The project was segmented into five stages with construction of the frontage roads and one of the bridges completed first.

Completion of the northbound PCCP, construction of a new northbound on/off ramp and a bridge above SR-99 made up the project’s last stage.

Total materials moved on the project included: 155,650 cu. yds. (119,000 cu m) of roadway excavation, 583,350 cu. yds. (446,000 cu m) of imported borrow, 62,780 cu. yds. (48,000 cu m) of Class II base, 24,850 cu. yds. (19,000 cu m) of lean concrete base, 48,390 cu. yds. (37,000 cu m) of PCCP, 2,220 cu. yds. (1,700 cu m) of structural concrete, 705,480 lbs. (320,000 kg) of reinforced steel and 2,210 yds. (2,022 m) of pipe.

Because FCI Constructors never fully closed SR-99, the project was constructed along live traffic at all times. When the contractor worked on bridge construction, FCI built a temporary detour.

“Fairmead was constructed to allow continuous four lane traffic during all construction,” Inocencio said, adding the original staging plans had to be reworked, as the original plans did not provide enough room to construct and complete the various construction stages.

Another challenge involved the construction of a new irrigation system. FCI had a 3-month window to complete the new irrigation system, which meant the contractor’s pipe supplier had to dedicate all pipe production to this project for a portion of time.

The irrigation work also had to be completed during the wet season and required a very aggressive schedule, Inocencio said.

For the $51.1 million project, FCI Constructors used a Caterpillar 623 scraper, a Cat D6 dozer, a Volvo G990 motorgrader and a Cat 345 excavator, Inocencio said.

FCI used the scraper for balancing subgrade; placing and balancing base rock; and placing import dirt.

Inocencio said the company used the Volvo G990 motorgrader to place import; make subgrade and base rock grade; and maintain haul roads. Additionally, a Cat 345 excavator installed underground piping and loaded trucks with dirt.

Inocencio said the project had an average of 35 employees working onsite each day, with the majority of work performed during the day shift.

“This project has caused minimal inconvenience to the residents of the community of Fairmead,” Rodriguez said. “The majority of residents who were familiar with the old design are happy that safety improvements have been implemented into this project.”

Subcontractors on the project included: AC Dike, ACL, Brown and Fesler, Central Fence, Contractors Chemical, Dywidag Systems, Farwest, Gerco, Harris Rebar, Hydro Tech, KCI, Service Construction, Sudhakar, Vangaurd Construction and W. C. Maloney. CEG

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