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Contractors Encounter Rocky Times on Route 67 Overhaul

Sat June 24, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Megan Nichols

Missouri’s Route 67 is receiving an overhaul and being relocated around the town of Poplar Bluff. The new 10.9-kilometer (6.8 mi.) corridor extends from the existing Route 60/67 interchange to approximately one mile south of Route M. The project includes construction of five new bridges along with grading, drainage and paving work.

The job also includes two diamond interchanges, one full cloverleaf and one slip ramp to provide access for a school. The 10.9 kilometer (6.8 mi.) length requires 21.7 kilometers (13.6 mi.) of two lane concrete pavement 11.5 meters (38 ft.) wide, including shoulders. Along with five bridges, the project calls for two bridge box culverts with a span in excess of 6 meters (20 ft.). One culvert is even a remarkable 266.7 meters (800 ft.) long. The bridges and box culverts used nearly 283,500 kilograms (630,000 lbs.) of rebar and 6,733 cubic meters (8,860 cu. yds.) of concrete. In total, there will be 39,873 cubic meters (52,465 cu. yds.) of concrete pavement.

Contractors used both steel H-pile and shell pile, driven approximately 8,426 meters (27,781 feet). H-piles are driven 24.3 to 60.7 meters (80 to 200 ft.). The shell or cast-in-place pile is driven at 3.3 to 8.8 meters (11 to 29 ft.).

The job specifications tell only part of the story; this seemingly straightforward project has its share of challenges. Located in southeast Missouri, the construction site is characterized by a dramatic soil change that divides the project’s northern segment from its southern one, and necessitates equipment changes. This one project often requires two different approaches.

“The dirt varies greatly from one end to the other,” Lindell Huskey, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) resident engineer, said. “It goes from rocky clay on the north end to loessial soil at the south end. The rocky clay is very abrasive and difficult to excavate but makes an excellent and stable fill. The loessial soil is classified as a Memphis soil, which is very silty. At or near optimum moisture content, it becomes unstable and hard to work with. The ground will ’pump’ easily near optimum level. This caused the grading contractor to adjust his operation working north to south. “Where we have a rocky, clay dirt, we had a D9 with a ripper on it to rip at the head of the scraper.”

In contrast, on the south side, crews used a tractor and scoop for grading. The heavier scraper with its rubber tires will “pump” the soil, causing stability problems. “The tractor is lighter per square inch. You can get a good bridge of fill over the top of that, and a scraper would be stuck,” Huskey added.

Equipment on site has varied with the job at hand and the changes of site conditions. The following equipment is used on site: Cat 631E scrapers, Cat 613C paddle wheel, Cat D9L dozers, Cat D6H dozer, Cat D6M dozer, Cat 140G motorgrader, Cat 16G motorgrader, Reynolds scraper, Komatsu 320L trackhoe, Cat 220 trackhoe, Cat 965 track loader, Cat 825C compactor, Cat 815B compactor, Cat 416C backhoe, Case 850G dozer, Case 850E dozer, Link-Belt crane, Grove crane, Statis/Dynamic load testing machine, Ingersoll-Rand paver, and an Ingersoll-Rand pneumatic roller.

“Currently, all the grading, drainage, and structures are complete, and we are preparing for the paving portion of the project to begin. The concrete plant site is being prepared; aggregates are being produced; and preparation of the subgrade will be the next step,” Huskey said.

The work began with a job let in April 1996. The $3.9-million contract included four bridges at two of the interchanges, Routes PP and M. HR Quadri, Van Buren, MO, was the prime contractor, and the project was complete in November 1998.

The next phase of the project was grading. Emery Sapp and Sons of Columbia, MO, was low bidder at a contract cost of $8.2 million. Work consisted of moving and placing 1.5 million meters (1.6 million yds.) of dirt, building one bridge and six box culverts, and completing miscellaneous drainage. During this stage, an outer road also was built to accommodate local traffic.

“One of the biggest challenges of the project was to keep Oak Grove Road open to traffic,” Huskey said. Three different schools are located on this heavily used road. “Coordination was necessary to keep local traffic traveling.”

The construction team’s coordination has paid off; the project is now entering its final stages. The third and last phase is completion of the concrete pavement. Jones Brothers Inc., Mt. Juliet, TN, received the contract for $11.9 million which was let October 22, 1999. This final phase has a Nov. 1, 2000 completion date.

The following major subcontractors contributed to the Route 67 relocation project: Gerdan Construction (slipform concrete), Adams and McCord (bridge painting), Park Mark (striping), Schemel & Companies Inc. (asbestos removal), Pace Construction Co. (asphalt products), JLA Construction (seed and mulch), D & S Fencing Co. Inc. (fencing), James H. Drew Corp. (guardrail), and Cutco Inc. (saw cut and seal).

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