Crews Mindful of Students Walking Through Work Zone

Thu January 19, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Brian Kern

Lane Construction is in the process of turning two lanes of traffic into four lanes on a 2-mi. residential and light urban stretch of Route 540A in Polk County, FL.

Assistant Project Manager Dyelan Phillips said the project, contracted by the county last April, is approximately 30 percent complete. The $27.5-million job is scheduled for completion in July 2007.

“This is a highly residential area with a high school and an elementary school located within the work site,” Phillips said. “We have students walking through the site every day. Our main concern is keeping the kids safe. It’s a tight working area with underground utilities, gas lines and water mains.”

At the beginning and end of each day, when students are commuting to and from school, the crew stops working.

Orange fencing has been installed to designate where pedestrians should walk and Lane Construction employees are stationed at points where students pass through to ensure they don’t wander into the work area.

Their efforts have been noticed by the community.

Laura Fouts, a Polk County resident and mother of a school-aged child, sent an e-mail to Lane thanking the crew for ensuring safety at the site.

“In July, when it came to my attention the road work was to begin in the school area of the neighborhood, I will admit it made me somewhat nervous,” she wrote. “I have a 6-year-old I walk to school daily along with many other kids and my two younger ones [one of which is in a stroller].”

But, she said the Lane crew quickly eased her concerns.

“Along with the crossing guards and police officers, your crew has done everything in their power to aid in our children’s safety and to make this transition as comfortable as possible for us parents,” Fouts wrote.

Their efforts, she said, have included carrying her stroller over muddy ground.

The job called for Lane Construction to build a 600-ft. (183 m) bridge across a so-called “slime pit” — a retention pond for by-products from the local phosphate mining industry.

According to the Polk County Web site,, the discovery of phosphate rock in the Peace River near Fort Meade in 1881, initiated the mining of the world’s largest deposit of phosphate rock known as the “Bone Valley Deposit.” The 500,000-acre (202,000 ha) deposit in Polk and three surrounding counties provides approximately 75 percent of the nation’s supply and 25 percent of the world supply for the production of fertilizer. More than 15 percent of Polk County has been mined for phosphate rock. Chemical manufacturing plants located inside Polk County convert insoluble phosphate rock into soluble products used in fertilizers and other product, according to the Web site.

The Lane Construction crew is currently driving piles and placing pile caps to support an 18-in. (46 cm) concrete deck for the slab bridge, which should be complete by May, according to Phillips.

“This is one of the most important aspects of the job,” Phillips said. “It will connect 540A to County Road 37B where there is now a dead end.”

The bridge also will also traverse a section of CSX rail line, adding another layer of bureaucracy to the scope of the job, bringing Phillips’ rating of the project’s complexity, on a scale of one to 10, to approximately a six.

The job has 70 Lane Construction employees and workers from a dozen or so subcontractors working five and six day workweeks with some night shifts, according to Phillips. The equipment being used is partially rented and partially company-owned.

Included in the line-up of on-site machinery are two Cat 325 excavators, a Cat 322 excavator, a Volvo EC-360 excavator and a Volvo EW-180 excavator. Volvo loaders also are being used: models L60, L70 and L110. A Cat D3 dozer is doing some of the pushing.

Lane also is using two Manitowoc 222 cranes in the bridge construction with one mounted on a barge and the other on land to feed the barge-mounted machine.

Approximately 80,000 linear ft. (24,000 m) of pipe will be laid before the job is complete, to accommodate storm sewers, sanitary sewers, sanitary force mains, potable water mains and reclaimed water mains.

Phillips said six retention ponds will be added to the site to manage run-off caused by the increased roadway surface area. Existing ditches will be eliminated to obtain the necessary space demanded by the expansion.

Lane’s total labor force during the peak construction season numbers approximately 4,500. The company was incorporated in Connecticut in 1902, after having been founded in 1890 by railroad engineer, John S. Lane. With corporate headquarters located in Meriden, CT, the original site of Lane’s first stone quarry operation, the company now has field office facilities in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Today, Lane completes more than $800 million worth of work each year in more than 20 states. CEG

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