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Eliminating Traffic Jams in Los Angeles

Atkinson Construction is busy Making the Grade on a $2.4 billion project in L.A.

Fri December 27, 2013 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Atkinson Construction has built an impressive portfolio of complex civil projects and municipal and state infrastructure expansion and renovation work, including dams, bridges, roadways and mining. Its southern California division has been particularly busy.

Trains and Traffic

In Los Angeles, freight moved by rail is big business, with 25 percent of all goods arriving in the United States coming through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The two ports process a collective 100 million tons or more of freight each year. As can be expected, however, this huge volume has resulted in thousands of trains up to 1.6 mi. (2.5 km) long. To make this increase in rail traffic palatable to the Los Angeles public, and to increase both the safety and speed of the railway, a 20 mi. (32 km), $2.4-billion corridor was created, with 200 grade crossings changed into motorist underpasses. The bulk of the corridor was finished by 2002. However, grade crossings in the western outskirts of Los Angeles still remain.

“We’re building a new bridge for a railroad crossing in Placentia while lowering the intersection 30 ft. for street traffic,” explained Christian Ryan, Atkinson’s project manager. “The majority of our work is utility rerouting because a massive storm-drain line ran down the middle of this road. So you’ve got to move the storm drain and all of the utilities with it. We’ve added 2,200 ft. of utility work to get that intersection lowered. It’s a 24-month project, and we’re about 62-percent complete at this time.

“We have a total of [124,000 cu. yd.] of dirt to move, and we’ve moved [55,000 cu. yd.] to date. We built a shoofly [a temporary side railing] so we could build the bridge while the trains kept coming. And we just recently moved the rails back to their original position over the new bridge. This will allow us to remove the rest of the dirt. We have many of the retaining walls in, and with the shoofly out, we’ll be able to move right along.”

This grade separation is one of five in process through the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Their Hitachi

“The Hitachi ZX470LC-5 has been our primary machine,” said Chris Sewell, general superintendent. “We’ve installed heavy-duty shoring, done deep excavations, and loaded trucks. We just use it in a bunch of ways. And before we’re done, we’ll be using it on additional jobs as we demolish the old 72-in. drainage and other utilities we’ve replaced. Of the excavation that’s been done, that machine has probably done about 80 percent.

“The operator likes the cab. It sounds like a little thing, but when a guy is happy with where he’s sitting, he’s more productive. He likes the balance, which is very important, and he feels the hydraulics are faster than the competition. All in all, he gives it a very favorable rating. The feel that an operator has with these controls is fantastic. We found an unmarked oil line, and it was amazing how he could clean around the pipe.”

Using ZXLink

“One thing that goes beyond this job is our company’s use of the GPS tracking and machine-function reporting available through Hitachi ZXLink,” said Tim Karle, equipment superintendent.

“You’ve got to understand that for us, this is one nice but relatively small project. It’s on a postage stamp and easy to track the assigned equipment. But, another project includes 16 mi. of freeway.We rely on the ZXLink to help keep track of our equipment.”

The Southern California Division of Guy F. Atkinson Construction LLC is serviced by Coastline Equipment, Long Beach, Calif.

This story was reprinted with permission from Hitachi’s Breakout Magazine, fourth issue of 2013

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