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CONRAC, People Mover to Aid Airport Congestion

Wed August 30, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Lisa Coston



With its new fifth runway up and running, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport continues with the construction of the latest additions that will accommodate the growth at one of the world’s busiest airports, along with the growth of Atlanta itself.

No project reflects the increasing population and growth in and around Atlanta more than the current construction of a new Consolidated Rental Car Facility (CONRAC), located south of Camp Creek Parkway and west of Georgia Highway 85, across from the airport.

At a total cost of $498 million, the new facility will accommodate the 10 rental car companies currently in operation at Hartsfield-Jackson. It will provide approximately 8,670 ready, return and storage spaces in the garage structures (approximately 2.8 million sq. ft. — 260,128 sq m), and 1,200 ground storage spaces.

The facility will include a 137,000-sq.-ft. (12,700 sq m) customer service center, storage and minor maintenance areas, wash lane facilities and vehicle fueling positions to support the rental agencies’ Quick Turn Around operation.

To connect travelers to the planes and rental automobiles, the city of Atlanta also is building an Automated People Mover to transport passengers from the airport to the CONRAC facility, with an intermediate stop at the Georgia International Convention Center, located in College Park, GA.

In a joint effort, Archer Western Contractors, Capital Contracting Company JV and Sumitomo/Mitsubishi Heavy Industries secured the design-build-operate-maintain contract for the people mover.

Under the contract, Archer Western-Capital Contracting Inc. is constructing approximately 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) of track on a pinched-loop system, a dual-lane elevated guideway and a maintenance and storage facility.

The projected initial capacity of the people mover is 2,700 people per hour, per direction, with an ultimate capacity of 5,170 people per hour, per direction.

In addition, a four-lane roadway crossing the I-85/MARTA/CSX corridor, designed by Hartsfield Transportation Group (Jordan Jones & Goulding, Edwards & Kelcey and U.S. Infrastructure) will provide vehicular access for traffic returning and leaving the CONRAC site.

An at-grade center spine roadway that passes under and around the customer service center will connect to the roadway.

Site Preparation and Clearing

To make way for the CONRAC facility and parts of the people mover, Chamblee, GA’s Precision 2000 Inc. won the bid on the contract for site preparation and clearing and began work Oct. 17.

At a cost of $15 million, Precision, along with subcontractor Plateau Excavation Inc. employed more than 60 workers to clear, grub, demolish pre-existing utilities, replace sanitary sewer lines, grade, build retaining walls, fence, seed, mulch and implement erosion control and filtration control on the heavily wooded 99-acre (40 ha) site.

Over a six-month period, workers moved more than 1 million cu. yds. (765,000 cu m) of material, including 200,000 cu. yds. (153,000 cu m) of rock. According to Precision 2000 President Carlos Sanchez, the rock was recycled and used on-site for backfill.

Along with mass grading by Plateau Excavation, storm lines ranging from 18 to 84 ft. (5.5 to 26 m) of concrete pipe and more than 7,000 linear ft. (2,100 m) of 8-ft. (2.4 m) D.I.P. sanitary lines were installed. The project also included the construction of more than 1,200 linear ft. (366 m) of 18-ft. (5.5 m) high retaining wall and a chain link fence around the perimeter of the project.

Most of Precision 2000’s fleet consisted of John Deere machines, purchased from Metrac, and Caterpillar machines rented from Yancey Brothers. Hitachi and Volvo loaders, dozers and excavators rounded out the fleet. Plateau Excavation brought its Caterpillar, Hitachi, Komatsu and Volvo excavators, loaders and dozers.

But just as the machines began to roll, work was halted for more than a month in one area of the work site, when an unusual obstacle got in their way.

Workers unearthed what looked like a possible cemetery.

“We found some headstones and it was believed that there was a cemetery,” Sanchez said. An archeologist was brought in to investigate, and some testing took place using ground-penetrating radar. After testing, it was determined that there was not a cemetery there after all.

“Apparently, one of the businesses in the area was for headstones and they left some of the ’oops’ in the backyard. We resumed the activities after that,” Sanchez said.

Precision 2000 and its subcontractors finished clearing the site June 20.

Moving Dirt to Move People

After a bidding process that took more than a year and required Archer Western to pre-qualify and deliver intermediate designs, Hartsfield-Jackson and the city of Atlanta awarded the contract to Archer Western Contractors Ltd./Capital Contracting Company Joint Venture at a price of $170 million.

Archer Western “was low bidder and our innovative designs on previous projects, like the Fifth Runway Bridge, certainly attributed to our selection,” said Ken Aschbacher, assistant project manager of Archer Western.

The design-build contract for the rail line, maintenance facility, its bridge and running surface began in October 2005.

Currently, 80 percent of the bridge design is complete, 50 percent of the maintenance facility design is complete and 60 percent of the people mover system design is complete, according to Aschbacher.

The bridge for the people mover is being built on pile foundations, with the actual airport terminal station on drilled shafts. Cast-in-place concrete columns and caps make up the substructure. Pre-cast concrete beams make up a majority of the 70 bridge spans, but there also are seven spans of steel box beams with cast-in-place decks and 10 cast-in-place spans. On the deck of the bridge, the team will install 4-ft. (1.3 m) barrier walls, guiderails, running surfaces and an emergency walkway.

Currently, 60 percent of the piles, fittings and columns are complete.

For the actual 1.2-mi. (1.9 km) automated people mover rail line, the team is constructing the line on-site, using two Manitowoc 999 cranes, rented from Maxim Crane Works, to set beams.

For all cast-in-place work, including the 28,000 cu. yds. (21,400 cu m) of concrete, columns, caps, barriers and running surface, the team is using 150-ton Link-Belt LS238 crawlers bought from Atlantic and Southern Equipment. Along with that, 60-ton Grove RT700s (owned by Archer Western’s parent company, the Walsh Group) and mini-trackhoes to set guiderail. For the caissons, it is using a 150-ton pile rig.

More than 100 workers are currently on the project, and punching the clock on a regular day shift right now, but as the project progresses, and the various subcontractors begin their work, the number of shifts will increase, according to Aschbacher.

For the people mover side of the project, some of the subcontractors include MAR Trucking, Capital City Concrete Company for flatwork, Schofield Interior Contracting Inc. as construction manager for maintenance facility, Steel King for tie rebar and The Artis Group for setting beams and installing metal decking.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of America is designing the rail cars, along with the design of all of the systems needed to run the people from another country and time zone.

“Working with Mitsubishi is interesting since most of the design is done in Japan, which is 13 hours difference in time,” Aschbacher said.

Along with the time difference, incorporating the Mitsubishi system along with the actual construction, is the big challenge on this job.

“While incorporating the [Mitsubishi] system at 30 percent design while the structural design is at 95 percent, with construction started, the toughest challenge is not missing something and forecasting the correct space, sizes, etc.,” he said. “Our daily to weekly coordination of the team members deals with this obstacle and keeps the project on track.”

David Moyer, lead project manager of Archer Western is quick to point out that this is an overall team effort, from planning and design to construction.

“To date, the project has gone extremely well for an undertaking of this size and magnitude. All of this can be attributed to the working relationships that extend past the design team — made up of seven engineering and design firms — the city of Atlanta’s Department of Aviation and the many people involved through the Hartsfield-Jackson Development Program.”

CONRAC, the APM and the facilities surrounding both, should be on track and complete by November 2008. CEG