Crews Ramp Up Airport Access With Hardee Expansion

Tue July 06, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Gwenyth Laird Pernie

Accelerated construction along the John N. Hardee Airport Expressway (S-378) in Columbia, SC, began in late 2001. The project falls under the Columbia Area Transportation Study (COATS) program and is federally and state funded.

According to Brian Keys, program manager of the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), the John N. Hardee Airport Expressway is a multiphase project designed to improve the efficiency of the traffic in the area.

“The project is a multi-lane roadway with limited control access providing a direct link from Airport Boulevard to I-26,” he noted.

The construction will improve automobile access to the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. The airport, located near three interstate highways (I-20, I-26, and I-77) has more than 1,400 employees as well as 9,000 to 10,000 aircraft operations each month. Access in and out of the airport was becoming congested and was in need of major improvements.

“The project will reduce the local network traffic around the airport by providing passenger and cargo-handling vehicles direct access to the airport,” Keys said. “The new expressway is expected to carry approximately 25,000 vehicles in 2008 –– and thereby lessen by this amount the local traffic around the airport.”

Accelerated construction, a form of design/build, was chosen by SCDOT for this project. The goal of the accelerated construction method is to maintain the road system while lessening least impact on the motoring public by reducing the overall construction time.

SCDOT encourages innovative measures to speed up projects, including A+B bidding, where contractors bid on both the work itself and how quickly they believe they can complete the project.

According to Keys SCDOT is accomplishing 27 years of road and bridge projects in just seven years by putting aside conventional ways of doing business and implementing accelerated construction.

“Through innovative financing, South Carolina has overcome a last place position for federal funds and has launched an unprecedented $5 billion worth of road construction,” Keys pointed out. “This accelerated program has put South Carolina in the fast lane, with the SCDOT making a reality of projects that were on wish lists 30 years ago.”

Phase I of the John N. Hardee Airport Expressway project involves 2.8 mi. (4.5 km) of roadway with one bridge. Standard roadway construction began at SC 302 (Airport Boulevard) and will end at SC 602 (Platt Springs Road). The existing two-lane roadway will be widened to a four-lane roadway with a grade separating the interchange to access the airport terminal.

United Contractors Inc. is the prime contractor on phase I. U.S. Constructors Inc., an affiliate of United Contractors Inc., handled the project management of the grading work. Randy Snow is vice president of United Contractors Inc and the president of U.S. Constructors Inc. Jonathan Hornick is the project manager of phase I.

Grading subcontractor for phase I is Sox and Sons Construction Company of West Columbia, SC. Crews excavated approximately 300,000 cu. yds. (229,366 cu m) of borrow and 52,000 cu. yds. (39,756 cu m) of unclassified material.

Paving subcontractor for phase I is Apac of Tennessee. Approximately 86,000 sq. yds. (71,907 sq m) of Portland cement were used on this job site.

According to Kathryn Huff, controller of U.S. Constructors, phase I of this project was a valued-engineered project.

“The original plans included four bridges,” Huff explained. “U.S. Constructors re-designed the plans, eliminating all but one of the bridges by making the others dirt interchanges. This saved SCDOT several million dollars.”

Phase I is proceeding ahead of schedule with nearly 80 percent of the work complete. Construction is expected to be finished this month. Project funding for phase I is $12 million.

Phase II of the project, which is currently under design, will provide a four-lane roadway on new location alignment extending Airport Road directly to I-26. Additionally, a new interchange along I-26 and additional lanes and bridge improvements along I-26 will be constructed. The project length is 3.2 mi. (5.1 km) with six bridge structures –– both new and replacement. Project funding for phase II is $80 million. Construction is expected to begin late 2006.

According to Keys, the current Airport Road is a two-lane roadway with multiple drives and different access points in which to enter the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

“Once the job is complete, the new roadway will ease access to the airport by providing four lanes of travel and interchange a single point at which to enter the airport,” he said.