CMES Inc. Constructs Diamond Urban Interchange in Bethlehem

Thu October 15, 2020 - Southeast Edition #21
Irwin Rapoport – CEG Correspondent

Construction crews from CMES Inc. are in the process of building a full diamond urban interchange providing access to and from SR 316 to the crossroad SR 81 in Barrow County.
Construction crews from CMES Inc. are in the process of building a full diamond urban interchange providing access to and from SR 316 to the crossroad SR 81 in Barrow County.
Construction crews from CMES Inc. are in the process of building a full diamond urban interchange providing access to and from SR 316 to the crossroad SR 81 in Barrow County. Thus far, CMES has completed the following elements: construction of the SR 81 bridge; three MSE walls; six poured-in-place concrete walls; concrete paving for SE and NE ramps; and major sewer and water directional bores under the SR 316. This project includes the grade separation of the existing at-grade signalized intersection of SR 316 at SR 81. The interchange will be designed to accommodate the future widening of SR 316 from existing two general-use lanes in each direction to three lanes in each direction. Materials removed from the site should total 3,000 sq. yds. of concrete and 6,000 tons of asphalt. New materials being brought in should tally 24,000 tons of concrete, 16,000 tons of asphalt and 100 tons of steel.


CMES Inc. crews are scheduled to complete the Georgia Department of Transportation's (GDOT) $26.4 million project in Bethlehem to construct a full diamond urban interchange providing access to and from SR 316 to the crossroad SR 81, on Oct. 31,.

The project, taking place in Barrow County, is being financed by state funds. The contract was awarded to CMES in July 2017 and construction began in October 2017.

The new interchange, with nearly 2.2 mi. of roads, in addition to alleviating heavy traffic and reducing the number and severity of crashes, is part of an ongoing effort to convert SR 316 to a limited access highway from Gwinnett to Athens.

"This project is for the grade separation of the existing at-grade signalized intersection of SR 316 at SR 81," states the project web page. "The interchange will be designed to accommodate the future widening of SR 316 from existing two general-use lanes in each direction to three lanes in each direction, including a barrier separated HOV lane in each direction."

The ramp heads for the new interchange are spaced 350 ft. apart. State Route 81 will taper down to a two-lane section to match the existing typical section at the project terminals, and the SR 81 bridge over SR 316 will provide a total of four lanes — one through lane and one left turn in each direction.

The right-of-way width varies from 100 to 200 ft., and the new infrastructure required approximately 19 acres of right-of-way. This project was designed by Georgia Department of Transportation.

"This project will allow State Route 316 traffic to continue free flow operations as a limited access corridor," said Katie Strickland, communications specialist of the Northeast District. "Drivers will now have the ability to exit State Route 316 at State Route 81 and utilize access roads which will ease congestion and increase mobility."

Two additional projects currently are under way on the SR 316 corridor at its intersection with SR 11 and at SR 53, which are located on the east side of this interchange. These will continue transforming the look and feel of SR 316 as they will become interchange bridges.

A sign of the initiative's progress was GDOT's shifting of traffic to the SR 81 overpass bridge over highway 316 on Sept. 22. Other milestones included last February's opening of the relocated Exchange Boulevard (1 mi.), which provides access to businesses in the area.

The interchange and associated infrastructure will be able to accommodate an average daily traffic count of 46,800 on SR 316 and 40,250 on SR 81 of cars and trucks by the year 2040.

"There were no design or engineering challenges that were presented," said Strickland. "The typical lifespan of a bridge is 50 years."

The traffic management plan is based on day and night time lane and shoulder closures, along with detours.

Thus far, CMES has completed the following elements: construction of the SR 81 bridge; three MSE walls; six poured-in-place concrete walls; concrete paving for SE and NE ramps; and major sewer and water directional bores under the SR 316. The remaining work is focusing on concrete pours for SR 81 overpass bridge above SR 316 and the SW and NW ramps ties will be constructed during a 30-days closure.

"SR 316 is a major highway which connects the University of Georgia at Athens and Athens, so there is a lot of commute traffic during the construction," said Siddharth Balar, CMES's project manager. "We faced some utility challenges during the installation of the sewer jacks and bores, which were required to run 0.5 percent across SR 316. Throughout the project, our constant coordination and communication skills have provided CMES with a cooperative and highly proactive relationship with the GDOT's District 1."

The work included the demolition of existing roads and concrete paving.

The interchange contains one bridge (two lanes in each direction), two entrance and two exit ramps.

"We used a special piece of equipment, a Pathfinder 500, a pilot tube steering system which we rented from a company in Ohio," said Balar. "We poured 12,000 cubic yards of concrete for all four ramps and imported 500,000 cubic yards of dirt."

The major subcontractors brought in by CMES are McCarthy Building Companies for bridge improvement; Georgia Bridge and Concrete for paving; Bass Signal for new signals and ATMS; Peek Pavement Marking for marking the roads; ER Snell Contracting Inc. for asphalt paving; and Tricor Construction for MSE walls.

Materials removed from the site should total 3,000 sq. yds. of concrete and 6,000 tons of asphalt. New materials being brought in should tally 24,000 tons of concrete, 16,000 tons of asphalt and 100 tons of steel

The subcontractors brought in two rented cranes.

"We like to perform preventive maintenance on time to cut down on unexpected repairs," said Ian Thompson, CMES's fleet manager. "When a repair is needed, we can have one of our field mechanics on the job usually within an hour or so, or if it is a larger repair, we can have one of our lowboy trucks take the machine to our shop where we have three full-time mechanics. We have more than 300 pieces of powered construction equipment, so if we need to replace a machine on the job, we can do it very quickly."

The firm purchases and rents equipment from local and regional dealerships.

"In the last five years, we have purchased more than 150 pieces of brand new heavy construction equipment, as well as more than 150 new pieces of smaller equipment and new trucks," said Thompson. "Because we purchase so much, we get very good service from the dealers that we use. We also take advantage of dealer provided preventive maintenance programs."

Equipment Used:

Excavators:

Cat 314D, 345D

Komatsu 138, 238

Hyundai 145, 235 300

Kobelco 500

Dozers:

Cat D3G, D5K

Komatsu D39, D51, D61

Wheel loaders:

Komatsu WA200

Hyundai 940

Rollers:

Hamm H7, H11

Hyundai HR120

Motor graders:

Cat 12H, 140H

Hammers:

Hyundai hydraulic models

CEG