Shimmick Construction paved the cable-stayed Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach, Calif., with its Terex Bid-Well 3600 and 2450 pavers.
It might be hard to believe, but veteran paving contractors do have tales of adventure attached to most of the road projects they have worked on. How could they not? Over the past century, paving contractors have created millions of miles of paved roads and surfaces in the United States.
In most cases, they can recall the outstanding performance of the equipment they used to get the job done right.
Many prestigious companies manufacture the various pavers used today, as well as the screeds, compaction equipment and milling machines. Among them are Caterpillar, Volvo, Terex Bid-Well, Bomag, GOMACO, Wirtgen and Vögele.
Terex Bid-Well Lends Expertise to Bridge
The elegant new cable-stayed Gerald Desmond Bridge in Long Beach, Calif., is supported by a pair of 515-ft. towers, which will make it one of the tallest in the United States when finished late this year. The $828 million replacement span carries traffic from the port of Long Beach, from which approximately 15 percent of the country's imported ship cargo is moved to other destinations.
The 1.6-mi. bridge will include three traffic lanes in each direction, plus an emergency lane each way. It will also have a 205-ft. vertical clearance — 50 ft. higher than the old structure — to accommodate the sizes of modern cargo ships that pass underneath.
Shimmick Construction, based in Oakland, is building the segmented bridge in a joint venture with a Spanish and an Italian contractor (SFI JV).
The contractors have paved more than three-fourths of the bridge's 1 million ft. of deck using their Terex Bid-Well 3600 and 2450 pavers.
"We paved at widths ranging from 50 to 90 feet wide with our 3600 pavers, and some of the pours required us to vary the paving width," said Mike Tung, the upper- and lower-approach bridge manager of Shimmick. "The 3600 paver's end segments are built to accommodate up to 30 feet of on-the-fly paving width changes."
When problems arose on the deck paving, Terex Bid-Well quickly dispatched Jason McCann, one of its top service engineers, to Long Beach to watch the operation and make recommendations on how to boost paving quality.
He noted that at times, too much wet concrete would run under the paving carriage's Rota-Vibe and dual rollers, causing smoothness to suffer. That led McCann to offer Shimmick's crew advice on setting up the paving carriage's augers.
Tung was pleased with the various pieces of expert advice offered by McCann, who also worked with Shimmick to adjust both the Terex Bid-Well 3600 and 2450 pavers on site.
"Jason made some very good observations," said Tung, who saw immediate dividends from McCann's presence on site. "The paving process for the eastbound lanes is going a lot smoother, and we are getting a much better product and higher quality."
Cat's 3D Pavers Help Flatten NFL Stadium
With the skyline of downtown Minneapolis behind it, U.S. Bank Stadium was built in time for the 2016 home opener of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Just 18 months later, the spectacular new arena played host to Super Bowl LII.
But, before any of that could happen, the building contractors for the stadium had to ensure that the asphalt base underneath the football field itself was as flat as possible.
Minneapolis-based Park Construction took on the challenge and placed an asphalt mat at the stadium that varied less than 1/8 of an in. over a 10-by-10-ft. area the entire length and width of the field.
"There were a lot of eyes on us," admitted John Lenarz, Park's paving supervisor and superintendent. "We were doing something that nobody had done before — putting an asphalt layer down underneath an athletic field."
The imposing project was made easier, though, when Park saw how quickly it could place a high-quality surface by using Cat 3D paving in tandem with older Caterpillar equipment.
Seventy-five tons of aggregate had to be removed from the bowl prior to the asphalt paving. Park then graded it to elevation, a process that needed to be finished within one week. By using a Cat 160M motorgrader outfitted with 3D grading, though, Park completed that part of the work in three and a half days.
Cat's 3D paving system utilizes the Trimble Total Station and software on board the paver to compare the screed position and slope with a digital design of the project. A Cat AP1055E paver with an AS2302C screed laid down the mix at the urban work site. Each machine was integrated with a Trimble AccuGrade PCS900, which does all the required 3D calculations before transmitting the information to the 2D paver.
To aid in the effort, Park also employed a Cat CB66B steel drum roller, a Cat PS360C rubber tire roller and a CB64 roller, along with a 3-ton Cat CB24B roller for the breakdown, finish and touch-up work.
"It was smooth, not a roller mark or anything," beamed Shawn Bloch, Park Construction's GPS survey manager. "The Cat 3D paving system gave us the flattest, smoothest surface I've ever seen. It looked just perfect."
But, before any player could step on the field, Park's work also had to pass muster with the NFL, which had its own inspectors test the mat's flatness with a 10-ft.-long straight edge in late April 2016.
"When [an inspector] started pushing the straight-edge up the joint, which is potentially our worst spot, he just started raving about the quality of work," said Paul Plieses, Park's project superintendent. "Then it was high fives and handshakes throughout our entire group."
Kansas Contractor, Bomag Bucks Trends
Bomag Americas, based in Ridgeway, S.C., boasts an excellent reputation for solving problems encountered by its customers.
The Bomag/Cedarapids line of pavers has provided customers with such inventive products as the efficient CR662RM RoadMix machine, a versatile item that works as both a paver and a material transfer vehicle.
But to many contractors and dealers, the rubber-tracked CR662RM's ability in handling an impressive range of paving skills has branded it as a "specialized" piece of equipment better for high-profile road projects, airports or mainline paving, where stringent specs demand the use of such a machine.
Towanda, Kan.-based Dustrol Inc., has bucked this line of thinking, however, and expanded the use of its "specialized" pavers for years. The innovative asphalt contractor uses its Bomag/Cedarapids CR662RM Remix machines for a hot-in-place (HIR) recycle process.
A few years ago, while recycling a stretch of Kansas highway that received two chip-seal treatments, one of Dustrol's five HIR crews was having a particularly difficult time achieving the result it wanted with its slat paver.
"Chip seal sets up fast and doesn't flow well, and the aggregate showed some signs of stripping," recalled Brian Hansen, president of Dustrol.
The company experimented with replacing its slat paver with the CR662RM, which features a combination of counter-rotating augers inside the hopper, as well as an outboard spreading auger drive to eliminate center gearbox and centerline segregation issues.
By applying the Roadmix's features to the Kansas roadway recycling project, Dustrol's issues on site were resolved, including problems with the aggregate stripping.
Since that first project using the Remix auger paver, Dustrol has added a CR662RM machine to four of its five HIR trains.
GOMACO Helps Dream Come True
Hannah Bowden admits there are few women like her who own their own paving companies and also operate the equipment.
But, as the head of Curb Time Solutions in Russellville, Ark., she notes that it's a family company in which her father, Jim and brother, James, each play crucial roles. A veteran paver, Jim Bowden mentors her through the intricacies of concrete slipform paving.
So, when it was time to order Curb Time Solutions' first concrete slipform paver, the Bowdens purchased a new GOMACO 3300 in early 2018 — and in the process realized Hannah's dream of running her own slipform paving company.
"The reason we went with the 3300 is because of its ability to pour multiple things," Hannah explained. "Not only can we trim and pour curb and gutter with it, we can also do sidewalk, barrier wall, and bridge parapet."
Upon delivery, Hannah first had to learn how to operate the new 3300 and put concrete through the paver so that she could truly become a hands-on business owner.
In preparation for the first pour, Jim had created a practice course at home where he could teach her how to operate the 3300 with its G+ control system. Additional support was provided to Hannah from the GOMACO service rep on site during the first week of paving.
It took a few tries before she became completely comfortable using the paver.
"My first day with the machine, though, I poured close to 2,600 feet of curb and gutter," Hannah said.
That done, she put the GOMACO concrete slipform paver to work on a project in nearby Clarksville, Ark., that encompassed 15,600 ft. of two different types of curb and gutter, as well as 8,200 ft. of 10-ft.-wide sidewalk.
The 3300 model's symmetrical configuration is designed to be a right-side and left-side pour capable paver. Hannah and her crew immediately put the paver's right-side pour capabilities to the test on the first day's pour. Later, they reconfigured components of the paver to do the sidewalk.
In the end, the Clarksville project came off as expected for both the city and Curb Time Solutions.
"It's a lot of fun," said Hannah with pride. "You don't see female operators and owners very often, but here I am!"
Wirtgen Expertly Mills Wisconsin Road
From its base in Lakeville, Minn., near Minneapolis, Midstate Reclamation & Trucking undertakes full-depth reclamation, cold milling and asphalt paving and compaction.
Tom Johnson, the company CEO, attributes Midstate's accomplishments, in part, to the advanced technology of Wirtgen Group equipment, a stable that includes Wirtgen and Vögele paving and milling machines, to boost his company's productivity and profitability.
Midstate recently used one of its new Wirtgen 8-ft. 2-in. W 220 cold mills to remove aged asphalt from Wisconsin State Route 13 between Bayfield and Ashland, along the Lake Superior shoreline. The 10.7-mi. project involved two 12-ft. driving lanes, with 6-ft. shoulders on either side."They are incredible products," Johnson continued. "Their technology leads the rest of the industry, and they have led the charge for cold mills and reclaimers."
"Wirtgen's Level Pro system on the large W 220 cold-milling machine kept the milling profile on target," said Mike Swing, project manager/estimator of Midstate. "The Level Pro is the best control system I've worked with. We've never had a grade-control issue when we've run Level Pro."
Cameras at the end of the conveyor, as well as at the rear of the machine for backup visibility, make views into the truck hopper and rear of the cold mill easily available from the operator's platform.
Vögele Paver Has Solution for Cold Joints
The problem of deteriorating longitudinal "cold" joints between parallel one-lane lifts of asphalt has long perplexed pavement owners. Located between paved lanes, these joints quickly degrade and permit water to enter the pavement, leading to debonding, delamination, long-joint patches and potholes.
The best solution is to eliminate the longitudinal joint by paving two lanes wide, as demonstrated on Illinois State Route 50 near Monee, just south of the Chicago metro area.
There, Gallagher Asphalt Corp., a nine-decades-old company with three Illinois offices, placed a Superpave HMA friction course over two lanes. Gallagher followed that up by utilizing a new Vögele Super 2000-3i paver in tandem with the maker's VF 600 screed. The result was an attractive mat that should resist moisture infiltration and deterioration for years to come.
Placing two lanes with one paver at the same time also is more productive for a contractor.
"Paving wide eliminates the lane joint and provides a smoother ride," said Don Gallagher, operations engineer of the asphalt contractor. "It also allows us to complete the job faster as we make one pass instead of two."
Contractor, Volvo Team Up for Offbeat Jobs
Hayden Paving, a 20-year-old Texas company, has a bit of a reputation for taking on less-than-ordinary projects.
"I would call us a ‘specialty paver,'" said Michael Henry, project manager and estimator of Hayden, which has locations in Houston and San Antonio. "Some contractors will call different asphalt material suppliers in town and say, ‘Hey, we have this really difficult or weird job we need done,' and a lot of times the suppliers will say to them, ‘You need to call Hayden Paving because that is what they do.'"
APTIM, the global engineering and construction company, must have made such a call because last March, the firm tasked Hayden Paving with milling and paving the narrow, single-lane roadway along the top of the dam at the Lewis Creek Reservoir, near Willis, in southeast Texas. The dam and reservoir are owned by Entergy Corp.
Hayden Paving relies on Volvo paving equipment to do its many jobs precisely and efficiently. To assist in that effort, their Volvo dealer is ROMCO Inc. with locations across the Lone Star State.
The paving contractor brought several pieces of Volvo equipment to the job site. Included were Volvo's P7170B Blaw-Knox wheeled paver, a DD110 asphalt compactor, a PT125C compactor and the smaller DD25 and DD30 rollers.
Hayden began the work by milling the old asphalt on the top of the dam, which encompassed 2½ mi. of the existing road surface. Following that, the crew put down 3 in. of hot-mix asphalt. In all, the company brought in and placed 4,500 tons of Type D asphalt to re-establish the road.
But a couple challenges had to be met before Hayden could complete its work, he added.
"We only had two points of access, so everything had to be backed down the dam's road," he continued. "There was an access point on one end and a middle point, but the other end of the narrow road was blocked by a spillway. We also had a lake on one side and a sloping hill on the other. It's pretty unusual that you have to back in trucks single file that far to a site."
The project specs also called for a 2 percent crown in the 17½-ft.-wide roadway, Henry said, with the shoulder of the road being 2 ft. wide and crowned 7 percent.
Despite running up against those demands, Henry said, "As it turned out, the biggest challenge were the side crowns because we had to have special inserts manufactured to put inside our screed to get that 7 percent crown on the outside edge."
Yet Hayden successfully finished the project at the dam in less than a week and, although it was the first time the company had worked with APTIM, the two firms have since collaborated on other projects.
And, of course, Henry said, any job his crews take on will continue to involve Volvo equipment. He considers them integral to Hayden Paving's future prosperity.
Today's top stories