Crews Repair NY’s Flood-Ravaged I-87

Wed June 29, 2005 - Northeast Edition
David S. Chartock

A vital 16-mi. stretch of Interstate 87 (I-87) was closed Monday, June 13, 2005, following a 6- to 8-in. rainfall, which caused a mudslide that devastated the link between Montreal and New York City, just 60 mi. north of Albany.

More than 13,000 vehicles travel this road daily. Traffic was detoured to local roads to allow I-87 to be closed and cleared of debris.

Following the road closure, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) called in Delaney Construction of Mayfield, NY. Delaney is the NYSDOT Region 1 emergency standby contractor.

“The initial mudslide caused by the heavy rains compromised all four lanes and all of the shoulders. Two of the lanes were destroyed,” said Delaney Vice President Robert Finkle.

“The culvert was flooded and the road was breached,” he added.

Most of the damage is confined to a half-mile area.

Included in the scope of work is replacement of all of the medians, which were washed out; replacement of all of the embankments, which will consist of 6,540 cu. yds. (5,000 cu m) of fill; armoring the existing stream, which runs east to west, using rip rap; reconstruction of the northbound and southbound lanes with new asphalt; replacement of all guardrails; replacing a 500-ft (152 m) section, running east to west, of River Road, which is located underneath I-87; and removing the debris that resulted from the mudslide.

To remove the debris, Delaney Construction used a Link-Belt, a Hitachi and a Volvo excavator; 30 independent owner-operator dump trucks; two Caterpillar dozers; two 5- to 6-yd. (4.6 to 5.5 m) Kawasaki and Volvo wheel loaders. Several rollers and a Gradall also were used. Some of this equipment is being leased from Contractor Sales Co., of Albany, NY; and Nortrax Equipment and Milton CAT, both of Clifton Park, NY.

To perform the road reconstruction work, two asphalt pavers and millers will be used by Peckham Industries, of Hudson Falls, NY.

While Finkle said the cost of the work that will be performed has not been determined, he did emphasize that the road was reopened by 9 p.m. on Friday, June 17, 2005, in accordance with the mandate set by NYSDOT.

The biggest challenge to clearing the debris, he pointed out, was that it had rained virtually non-stop from the time the rains caused the mudslide through Thursday, June 16, 2005. “The rain definitely slowed us down,” Finkle said.

During the week in which the road had to be cleared of debris and reopened, Delaney Construction also had to keep diverting water from the stream so that would not reach an existing fiber optic cable. To protect this cable, Syracuse Utilities bedded and attended to the cable.

In addition, the existing 4-ft. (1.2 m) culvert was full of rock and debris. This had to be cleaned out. “It was time consuming and difficult because access to it was limited,” Finkle explained.

To clear the debris and open the road within the required five days, Delaney used a 50-person crew working 24 hours a day

Now that the road has been cleared of debris and reopened, another three-to-four weeks of work remains, Finkle said. This work will consist of slope failures, culvert clearing, erosion repair and restoration of existing surfaces. CEG