One of the worst traffic predicaments on Interstate 64 in Chesapeake, VA, should be improved by July 2009.
The I-64/Battlefield Boulevard interchange has long been a motorist’s worst nightmare because of its close proximity to the Greenbrier Parkway interchange, creating merging difficulties amid high-speed traffic. As a result, tense drivers more often than not slow down suddenly or come to halting stops — sometimes right on the interstate.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) awarded a $98.6-million contract to E.V. Williams Inc. of Virginia Beach, VA, the primary contractor, for work on the 2-mi. (3.2 km) long Battlefield Boulevard project. The construction engineering firm, McDonough Bolyard Peck (MBP), also has been hired as a consultant to oversee the project for VDOT. MBP is headquartered in Fairfax, VA, but Mike Prezioso, senior vice president of the Williamsburg, VA-office can usually be found at the job site.
The project on I-64 begins at the Greenbrier Mall exit and continues to just before the I-464 interchange. The main goal of the project is to replace the Battlefield Boulevard interchange, which includes the complete replacement of the interstate overpass bridge.
The contract also consists of widening the 2 mi. of interstate from six to 14 lanes, including two extra lanes in each direction that are separated from the main flow of traffic to assist cars merging on and off the highway. The replacement of the Battlefield Boulevard bridge and the interstate widening will occur at the same time.
There also will be HOV lanes in each direction and new exit ramps that should alleviate merging problems. New loops for traffic to enter and exit the interstate will be built and will be larger than the old ramps to accommodate more cars at higher speeds.
According to Mark Osenbaugh, project manager employed with E.V. Williams, the Battlefield Boulevard overpass bridge is the “most critical” part of the project. He also stated that the construction schedule has work starting on the bridge in the middle of January 2007, but they are “trying for five months early.”
Bridge Work Critical
Crews will replace the Battlefield Boulevard bridge, concentrating on one half at a time. Before starting the first half of the bridge work, the median must be paved so that traffic can be moved onto it. When the first half is completed, traffic will be transferred onto the new lanes, and work will begin on the second half of the bridge. Osenbaugh described it as “demolition and reconstruction.”
One of the most important factors during the Battlefield Boulevard bridge construction is to keep traffic flowing over the bridge. Plans called for two lanes open in each direction for the duration of the project. Crews will work during the day, for the most part, with any significant traffic impacts and lane closures occurring between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
McLean Contracting Company, headquartered in Glen Burnie, MD, has been hired as the subcontractor for bridge work. The company recently purchased a new Manitowoc 10000 100-ton crane (90 t) specifically for use on this project. The company also is making use of a Terex American HC80 80-ton (73 t) crawler crane.
In addition to the Battlefield Boulevard bridge, four bridges parallel to the interstate will be built. Two of the new bridges will cross over Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, and the remaining two will be “braided” bridges, each 700 ft. (210 m) long.
Braided bridges, also referred to as braided merge lanes, are new to the Hampton Roads area, and this project will make them the only ones in the region. The main function of these braided bridges is to keep the interstate traffic separate from those motorists getting on and off the interstate, which will reduce the problem of slowing and stopping traffic in this section.
While all of these bridges are being constructed at various intervals, many other tasks will be ongoing during the three years of construction.
One of the first jobs to be performed is the clearing of the roadway. Crews will remove bushes and trees that are in the way of construction. A John Deere 270 excavator and a John Deere 624J loader with a brush attachment are on site to assist with the clearing and grubbing.
Osenbaugh said, “For the clearing operation, a Cat excavator feeds debris into a [CBI Magnum Force 6800] horizontal grinder.”
Another part of the contract, which Osenbaugh called “the heartbeat of the project,” is the relocation of a street that runs off of Battlefield Boulevard — DeBaun Avenue — to the east to accommodate new ramps. Situated near DeBaun Avenue, an old sewage pump station will be torn down to make room for a wider ramp. A new pump station is being built by TMC Repairs Inc. of Norfolk, VA, using equipment including a Link-Belt truck-mounted crane and a Komatsu PC300LC excavator.
Other aspects of the interchange project include four box culverts, a new artificial pond to hold rainwater and 23,000 ft. (700 m) of storm drains. Two neighborhoods will receive new sound walls, which will be built by Waterfront Marine Construction Inc. of Virginia Beach. Additionally, 30 overhead sign structures are planned. Midasco Inc. of Elkridge, MD, is the subcontractor for the signage and the traffic management system.
Roche Bros. Inc. of Ijamsville, MD, has been hired as the subcontractor to install the 10 mechanically stabilized earthen (MSE) walls. Osenbaugh stated that the MSEs’ “main function is to create the ramp up to the bridge” and they “replace a typical abutment.” He also predicted that MSEs will become “more and more prevalent in this area.”
Other subcontractors of the many on the job are: Branscome Inc., Virginia Beach, performing asphalt paving and Pessoa Construction Company, Fairmont Heights, MD, performing concrete work and incidental concrete.
The earth work involved on the project is quite substantial, involving 650,000 cu. yds. (497,000 cu m) of excavation and borrow. Furthermore, contractors will bring in 120,000 tons (109,000 t) of cement treated stone, lay 220,000 tons (200,000 t) of asphalt, and pour 93,000 sq. yds. (78,000 sq m) of concrete paving.
E.V. Williams crews will perform the grading, drainage and concrete pavement for the main line.
“We eventually will have our concrete equipment on the project for the slipform paving,” said Tom Partridge, president of E.V. Williams, “which will include a CMI concrete plant and CMI SF 350 and SF 450 slipform paver and placer.”
So far, crews have cleared and grubbed three-fourths of the project and have started building the new DeBaun Avenue, including the new ramps. In addition, on the north side work has started on a braided bridge and a railroad bridge. Approximately 20 percent of the project has been rough-graded.
What’s more, E.V. Williams has spent roughly $200,000 to have a GPS system installed. This system allows the company to “pinpoint any problems before work is completed,” Osenbaugh said.
This system should help the company achieve its objective of completing the project earlier than the scheduled July 31, 2009. One incentive is an early completion bonus. Another incentive is to avoid being penalized for delays and extended lane closures.
Osenbaugh confirmed, “One of our main goals is to bring it in early.”
The trend in population growth and increase in employment in Chesapeake and nearby Suffolk, VA, is not going to stop anytime soon. By building a newer and better interchange, more cars will be able to use that section of interstate faster and safer during rush hour. CEG