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Crews Make Headway on $370M I-5 Project

Tue December 15, 2020 - West Edition #26
Irwin Rapoport – CEG Correspondent


The Nor Cal Paving joint venture has made steady progress over the past 18 months on the $370 million Interstate 5 (I-5) Corridor Enhancement Project in Sacramento County.
The Nor Cal Paving joint venture has made steady progress over the past 18 months on the $370 million Interstate 5 (I-5) Corridor Enhancement Project in Sacramento County.
The Nor Cal Paving joint venture has made steady progress over the past 18 months on the $370 million Interstate 5 (I-5) Corridor Enhancement Project in Sacramento County. The project utilizes a long-life pavement rehabilitation design, which repurposes the existing pavement to substantially extend its service life in a much more cost-effective manner than a complete reconstruction.
The existing Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement as asphalt concrete pavement is deteriorated and has a poor ride quality, which caused the need for an upgrade. One of the unique challenges of the project included the design and placement of HMA mix to a never before seen long-life specification.
Upwards of 200,000 tons of recycled aggregate base will be produced for the project. The work area is adjacent to wetlands and tributaries of the Sacramento River and required strict adherence to stormwater pollution prevention plans and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permits.
More than 615,000 tons of hot-mix asphalt produced by the JV’s local hot-mix asphalt plants and more than 200,000 tons of aggregate base have been produced on-site or by the JV’s local aggregate plants.
The work, which began in July 2019, is fixing up sections of the pavement and repaving the interstate; constructing new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes; replace a pedestrian overcrossing; constructing sound walls; installing new fiber-optic lines; placing new ramp meters and extending various entrance and exit ramps.

The Nor Cal Paving JV (Granite Construction Inc. and Teichert Construction) has made steady and solid progress over the past 18 months on the California Department of Transportation's (Caltrans) $370 million Interstate 5 (I-5) Corridor Enhancement Project in Sacramento County that covers 1.1 miles south of the Elk Grove Boulevard Overcrossing to the American River Bridge, an initiative that is rehabilitating the road and improving traffic flow by relieving congestion on the busy highway in the northern part of the State.

The work, which began in July 2019, is fixing up sections of the pavement and repaving the interstate (currently up to four lanes in each direction, with 8-ft.-wide shoulders) constructing new High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, replace a pedestrian overcrossing, constructing sound walls, installing new fiber-optic lines, placing new ramp meters and extending various entrance and exit ramps.

A rehabilitation was required for this stretch of highway.

"The existing Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement as asphalt concrete pavement is deteriorated and has a poor ride quality," said Dennis Keaton, public information officer, Caltrans District 3. "The project need was identified November 2014, funding was programmed March 2016, the project was environmental cleared December 2016 and contract plans were ready to advertise December of 2018. The project was awarded May 2019. The safety improvement project, combined with the rehabilitation project for construction, addressed the merge/weave transition at the NB I-5 Elk Grove Blvd on-ramp."

So far this year, Nor Cal Paving JV completed all 13 planned 55-hours closures to fully replace the highway structural sections at structure transitions and "at-grade" portions of I-5, a 2-mi. segment of the long life hot-mix asphalt (HMA) overlay, all interior bridge widenings, and all median reconstruction along the 15-mi. corridor.

"Construction of the new concrete median barrier replacement is ongoing with planned completion in early 2021," said Robert Mihal, Granite project manager. "Outside shoulder widening work is expected to be completed in summer 2021 followed by the remainder of the long life HMA overlay expected to be completed in fall 2021."

Project Challenges

"One of the unique challenges of the project included the design and placement of HMA mix to a never before seen long-life specification," said Kelly Curtis, Granite assistant project manager. "Granite designs and produces construction materials as part of our vertically integrated business model. By leveraging this experience, we were able to achieve mix design approval and placement within the scheduled timeframes and meet the performance bonus criteria."

"The project specifications significantly restricted what work could be done during the day," Curtis added. "With a few exceptions, all work that would impact traffic or required lane closures had to be performed at night. The job required extensive coordination between the contractor, subcontractors, Caltrans, and local stakeholders to ensure that work at each location would not impact work at other sites, both within the project and adjacent projects along the corridor. This involved weekly coordination meetings as well as frequent focus meetings for complex activities. The 2020 season included 13 55-hour weekend closures where work was performed under continuous active lane closures from Friday night to Monday morning."

The project also involved working with constrained environment conditions.

"The work area is adjacent to wetlands and tributaries of the Sacramento River and required strict adherence to stormwater pollution prevention plans and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permits for work around water," said Mihal. "Multiple utilities intersect the corridor requiring utilities mark out, and standby utility coordination during certain operations. Various locations on the project allowed only very tight and restrictive access where materials and equipment could only enter and exit the work zone under an active land closure.

"The JV team and Caltrans have taken a proactive partnership approach to solving conflicts," Mihal added. "This method has allowed us to work through challenging issues to develop agreeable resolutions, prevent unnecessary delays, and allow for mutually beneficial contract changes."

A new HOV lane and shoulder are being placed on each side of I-5.

"The JV can utilize crews and resources from two large local contractors which allow for simultaneous construction in both directions of travel, with each contractor focusing primarily on one direction of travel," said Curtis, "With all median work completed in 2020, traffic will be shifted towards the median to allow additional space and access to conduct all shoulder widening work in 2021. With both the median and shoulder widened, the additional HOV lane can fit in the existing right-of-way."

"The project utilizes a long-life pavement rehabilitation design, which repurposes the existing pavement to substantially extend its service life in a much more cost-effective manner than a complete reconstruction," Curtis added. "The existing concrete pavement, which has reached the end of its service life, is cracked and seated to form the base layer for the new long-life HMA overlay."

Equipment

Key equipment being used for the earthwork and excavation and road construction includes excavators, dozers, hydraulic breakers, compactors, motor graders, rollers and asphalt pavers

"This equipment must be in good mechanical condition to endure the rigors of working extended shifts," said Mihal. "Equipment failure would significantly impact the ability to complete the work and open the impacted lanes back to traffic at the end of the shift."

Crews are extending multiple entrance and exit ramps.

"Each JV partner is responsible for the construction of ramps in their direction of travel," said Mihal. "The key challenge of ramp construction is that the ramps must stay active throughout the process. To do this, ramp traffic is shifted multiple times to allow for the widening of the ramp on both sides. Due to the shorter, tighter work zones, ramp work is not as efficient as mainline widening work, but this issue is partially mitigated by performing work on adjacent ramps simultaneously."

The project includes more than 3,500 linear ft. of new sound wall.

"The sound walls are constructed of cast-in-place footings on a combination of cast-in-steel-structure and cast-in-drilled-hole pile with masonry block walls," said Mihal. "The average height is around 14 feet and requires the use of high strength blocks."

The work to install the new fiber-optic lines and place new ramp meters is proceeding smoothly.

"The pedestrian overcrossing has been constructed in phases during 2020, beginning with the main span over the highway and followed by the ramp structures on the east and west sides," said Mihal. "With the structural concrete nearly complete, the activities to complete in 2021 are the installation of the mesh fence and decorative railing, followed by demolition of the existing structure."

The management teams from the JV partners have worked on many major projects.

"Both JV partners provide dynamic and experienced team members who view the project holistically and are motivated to overcome challenges to deliver the project ahead of schedule and under budget," said Mihal. "The team's innovative solutions have reduced the scheduled project duration and provided more than $10 million in savings for Caltrans."

Peaks days have had each JV partners furnish 50 plus workers, and a key subcontractor, RNR Construction has had 30 plus people on-site.

Earthwork and excavation should generate 180,000 cu. yds. of roadway excavation. Construction will require 615,000 tons of asphalt mixes, 9,500 cu. yds. of structural concrete, and 4,900,000 lbs. of reinforcing steel/steel piling.

"Nearly all concrete and asphalt concrete rubble from the project is recycled on-site to produce recycled aggregate base, which is used on the project," said Curtis. "Upwards of 200,000 tons of recycled aggregate base will be produced for the project. Granite also promotes the use of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) that helps conserve raw materials and energy, cut emissions from operations, and improve conditions for workers. Using RAP is usually more cost-efficient, and it's often equal or greater in quality than traditional methods."

More than 615,000 tons of hot-mix asphalt produced by the JV's local hot-mix asphalt plants and more than 200,000 tons of aggregate base have been produced on-site or by the JV's local aggregate plants.

"There are mechanics on-site during paving and other critical operations," said Mihal. "Mechanics from our local Granite office are also available on call. Though each JV partner is responsible for maintaining and repairing their own equipment."

The JV partners purchase and rent equipment from local and regional dealerships.

"The large amount of equipment needed for the weekend closures required us to expand beyond our owned equipment," said Mihal. "We worked with the local dealers and rental companies to provide the necessary equipment to meet the high demand."

Project Background

"The project is improving access for carpools, vanpools, and express bus services during peak period travel," said Keaton. "Roadway rehabilitation is needed because the pavement has deteriorated and has a poor ride quality. The HOV lanes are needed because the I-5 corridor between Elk Grove Boulevard and the U.S. 50 interchange is experiencing recurring congestion during peak commute periods. Traffic demand during commute periods exceeds the freeway capacity, and the amount and duration of congestion is expected to increase in the future as suburban development in portions of the City of Sacramento and the City of Elk Grove."

In terms of the funding, the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) is contributing $280 million, SB1-Solutions for Congested Corridors Program (SHOPP/SCCP) $48.3 million, SACOG Congestion Management and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) $8.5 million, and an STA Local Measure A Tax $33.2 million.

The contract was awarded to the JV on May 31, 2019, which gave it only a few weeks to bring in equipment and prepare the schedule and benchmarks for it. The project's delivery date is December 2022.

Prior to the construction, 160,000 cars and trucks used the highway daily, and with the added lanes, will be able to meet traffic demands for the next 20 plus years. CEG

Equipment Used

Excavators:

Cat 328

Cat 330

Cat 335

Cat 336

Cat 345

Loaders:

Cat 950

Cat 966

Dozers:

Cat D4

Cat D6

Cat D8

Rollers:   

Cat 534

Cat 634

Hamm HD110

Hamm HD 120

Motor graders:

Cat 14 series




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