Final Phase of Project to Include 21-Day Bridge Rebuild

This $41.5 million phase, awarded to The Great Lakes Construction Co., began last June and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2018.

📅   Wed January 06, 2016 - Midwest Edition
Irwin Rapoport - CEG CORRESPONDENT


Key elements of the Lakefront West project in Cleveland, an Ohio Department of Transportation and city of Cleveland initiative/partnership, are being constructed during the third and final contract. This $41.5 million phase, awarded to The Great Lakes Con
Key elements of the Lakefront West project in Cleveland, an Ohio Department of Transportation and city of Cleveland initiative/partnership, are being constructed during the third and final contract. This $41.5 million phase, awarded to The Great Lakes Con
Key elements of the Lakefront West project in Cleveland, an Ohio Department of Transportation and city of Cleveland initiative/partnership, are being constructed during the third and final contract. This $41.5 million phase, awarded to The Great Lakes Con “Bridge replacement is required to be done in a very short timeframe to minimize impacts to traffic,” said Al Yost, ODOT project engineer.

Key elements of the Lakefront West project in Cleveland, an Ohio Department of Transportation and city of Cleveland initiative/partnership, are being constructed during the third and final contract. This $41.5 million phase, awarded to The Great Lakes Construction Co., began last June and is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2018.

The planned work is extensive, with West Shoreway reconstruction and safety improvements at West 28th Street and West 45th Street. Other elements include: the resurfacing of the existing West Shoreway mainline pavement from Lake Avenue/Clifton Boulevard to the Main Avenue Bridge, along with the replacement of the ramps to/from West Boulevard; the installation of the West Shoreway eastbound exit ramp to West 73rd Street and Edgewater Park, the replacement of the West Shoreway eastbound exit ramp to West 45th Street, as well as the ramps on the north side of the West Shoreway; the reconstruction of the Main Avenue/West 25th Street corridor to better accommodate traffic in the area; the installation of a new multipurpose trail along the West Shoreway from West Boulevard to West 28th Street; wetland mitigation; the closure of the West 28th Street entrance ramp to the Main Avenue Bridge (SR 2) eastbound and the realignment of the Main Avenue westbound exit ramp to West 28th Street; the reconstruction of the West 45th Street entrance ramp to the West Shoreway to better accommodate West 28th Street traffic; and an improvement to the turn at West 45th Street and Detroit.

The work encompasses a lot of design challenges, including poor soil conditions, a tight work area, maintenance of traffic and a large amount of ground water encountered during retaining wall work.

“Bridge replacement is required to be done in a very short timeframe to minimize impacts to traffic,” said Al Yost, ODOT project engineer. “The majority of utility relocations are complete, with a few outstanding ones needed during construction. We're still determining if exiting water mains are abandoned or active.

“There are a lot of construction duration restrictions,” he said. “ODOT is working with the contractor to ensure needs of all parties are met. There are bi-weekly official meetings between Metroparks, Great Lakes, ODOT and FHWA. Topics of concern are minimizing impacts to traffic, environmental commitments and maintaining access to Edgewater Park.”

In early Oct. 2015, the speed limit in the area was reduced from 50 to 35 mph, which is expected to add less than 75 seconds of additional drive time along this section of the West Shoreway.

Managing traffic to minimize the impact on motorists and to ensure that Great Lakes can bring in construction materials and vehicles will not be easy, but a plan has been developed that is working well thus far. Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction on SR 2 during construction, with overnight and off-peak hour lane closures expected. Temporary ramp closures are expected during 2015. The West 28th Street entrance ramp to the Main Avenue Bridge (SR 2) eastbound will be closed permanently and motorists will use Detroit Avenue to West 45th Street.

“There have been public meetings before the project started, and a few since the work began,” said Amanda McFarland, ODOT's public information officer of District 12 (Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties). “We also maintain a project Web site and provide construction updates via email to those that have signed-up. We use experiences from all of our past construction projects when developing new projects. However, each project is unique and since this is a major thoroughfare into and out of downtown Cleveland, ODOT and the contractor will always maintain traffic on the Shoreway.”

ODOT has a project engineer, consultant engineer and inspectors assigned to this project.

All project reports are kept and shared with others at ODOT if and when requested to help others benefit from previous experiences. Each project engineer has an area engineer overseeing the project.

“The project engineers are encouraged to work with their respective area engineer and consult with other engineers if they have questions or need advice on a particular situation,” said McFarland.

Extensive preplanning and flexibility is crucial to this final phase of the Lakefront project.

“It's a very complicated job phase-wise,” said Jim Fox, Great Lakes vice president of operations, “and with traffic, it makes things even more challenging. There are a lot of restrictions in each calendar year. We have several phases and interim phases. It took a lot of time to get our arms around it at bid time and during the planning and scheduling phase, but now that we have hit the ground, we're confident we will hit the intended time restrictions for the first year, which ends in October.

“Next year there will be some constraints on when we can shut down and not shut down ramps,” he said. “We also have the Republican National Convention coming next July, which is another constraint we have to deal with. We knew when we bid Phase 3 that we would more than likely have to stop working while the RNC is in Cleveland.”

The project is divided into three major construction seasons — 2015, 2016 and 2017, each with benchmarks to meet, while the 2018 season will see very little construction and focus mainly on landscaping, touch ups and sealing and painting.

Much of the work on the site that extends for 1.5 mi. (2.4 km) will be done simultaneously.

“It makes it quicker for ODOT,” said Fox, “but it makes it more complicated on our end to manage because we have so many people working in different locations. For instance, we are widening the substructure of Bridge 1224 on the west end of the project, while roadway crews are reconstructing the outside third lanes both eastbound and westbound. This work includes pavement removal, extensive drainage, undercutting marginal soils, placing subbase, slip forming curbs and paving asphalt. We're hoping to have the 3rd lanes substantially complete in October.”

“We're also constructing the eastbound off ramp to West 73rd Street, which ties into our Phase 2 project. That will also be done this fall,” he said. “But the heart of the project is at Walls #1 and #3, which are basically new concrete retaining walls installed to have the multi-use paths constructed. We have to get these retaining walls built because they are on the critical path of our schedule. That's the work that will extend into the winter.”

There are about 50 Great Lakes Construction and subcontractor employees on site daily, working a daily shift that goes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The principle subcontractors are Richard Goettle Inc. for CFA drilled shafts; Miller Electric for signals, lighting, power and all things electrical; Karvo Paving for asphalt paving; A&A Safety for maintenance of traffic; Cuyahoga Concrete for ready mix concrete; Norwalk Concrete Industries for precast lagging; and Royal Landscape for landscaping.

Working at night will be kept to a minimum to be respectful of the neighborhood. Crews are typically working between 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week.

“We are using staggered shifts,” said Fox. “Eastbound we can work from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. due to the rush hour into town. On the westbound side, we start at 5 a.m. so we can finish before 3 p.m. and avoid the afternoon rush hour.”

The work site right of way and the adjacent Metroparks has given Great Lakes the room needed to set up offices, park equipment, store construction materials and laydown areas.

When the contract is completed, 50,000 cu. yds. (38,227 cu m) of concrete, will have been removed from the various sites. New construction materials will include 21,000 ft. (6,400 m) of storm sewer, 42,500 tons (38,555.3 t) of hot mix asphalt, 15,000 sq. yds. (12,541 sq m) of concrete pavement, 48,000 ft. (14,630 m) of concrete curb, 90,000-sq. ft. (8,361 sq m) of temporary steel sheeting, 6,500 ft. (1,981 m) of CFA drilled shafts, 11,095 ft. (3,381 m) of steel piling, 875 cu. yds. (668.9 cu m) of precast concrete lagging, 2,300 cu. yds. (1,758.4 cu m) of CIP structural concrete, and 252 ft. (76.8 m) of precast arch 42 ft. (12.8 m) span.

“We're currently removing the existing concrete shoulder and the concrete rubble is going to a waste site close by where it may be recycled down the road,” said Fox. “Most of the asphalt being milled is getting recycled.”

The main supplier for the concrete used on the project is RAR Contracting Inc. The use of retarder by suppliers extends the lifespan of concrete by 30 minutes, which has been helpful to the concrete crews, as has the warm weather. This has been beneficial when traffic is heavy as it makes it more difficult for materials to arrive on time.

The project is performing water and sewer infrastructure relocations, but Cleveland Public Power is the most critical. One of Great Lakes subcontractors, Miller Cable, will be coordinating that work. The relocation is in the design/planning phase. Once complete, construction crews will be able to reconstruct Edgewater Drive, the entrance to Edgewater Park, which is managed by the Metroparks.

“We've had several challenges with utilities, close proximity of structures near our large excavations, and heavy traffic adjacent to our crews,” said Fox. “It can be very difficult, especially with the speed of the traffic alongside the tight working areas. We have bi-weekly meetings with ODOT and the first thing we always talk about is traffic and safety. For public awareness, we've brought in message boards and speed limit boards to slow down traffic. Although, we have found that police presence seems to be the most effective.”

Another challenge is the construction of the retaining walls going up for the multi-use bike path.

“That's a big part of the heavy civil work,” said Fox. “It's sheet piling, both temporary and permanent sheeting installed this phase, along with the soldier piles — using the continuous flight auger method. It's unique and is a value-engineering proposal that Goettle, our subcontractor suggested to ODOT. It has saved time and money. That is a big part of what we are doing now. After the soldiers go in, we will be installing precast concrete panels to complete the concrete retaining walls.

“The soldier pile work should be completed this year,” he said, “and next spring we can finish putting the lagging panels in for Wall 1 near the Morgan Water Treatment Plant. After the RNC, we will go into the work at the far west end, which will have us completely shut down the main road for three weeks in August to tear down the existing 1224 bridge and build a new span.”

The prep work for this operation has already begun, with the substructure work currently taking place and the installation of temporary sheet piling, excavation and structural concrete.

“We're doing a lot of the bulk work for the foundations and stem walls,” said Fox, “and next summer, with everything 100 percent done on the substructure, we will demo the old span, install the new precast span pieces, backfill it and have traffic back on it within 21 days.

“We have weekly planning meetings internally where we talk about schedules, production, safety, and long-term items,” he said. “For example, with the precast spans that are going to be ordered, getting the right supplier is important. The superstructure of the bridge work is a year away, but getting everything scoped out well before then is essential. Making sure our suppliers can produce what we need, when we need it, is all about planning and communicating. This can be the most challenging part of a project, but the most important if you want to be on time and under budget. These are skills and techniques that we bring to all our projects as a management team.”

Phase III intersects with the ongoing work on Phase II.

“It's definitely helpful because we can share resources like personnel and equipment,” said Fox. “When we wrapped up with the pile driving crew on Phase II, they moved seamlessly to Phase III, which was great. This was part of our weekly planning process. Managing both projects simultaneously has helped us level our resource needs.”

Great Lakes has a safety director and several safety coordinators who frequently visit job sites.

“This team effort has gained Great Lakes the title of ‘One of America's Safest Companies' and an OSHA VPP Challenge Graduate.' We tie our safety program into equipment care and use. Pre-op checklists are completed prior to getting on our machines to ensure that they are in good working condition. If they need attention, our equipment manager is notified immediately. Frequent audits by both the safety team as well as regulatory agencies confirm that the system is working,” said Fox.

Cell phones and smart phones are the main form of communication on job sites to report issues and equipment problems.

“Our equipment maintenance crews are very mobile in northeast Ohio,” said Fox. “If a problem arises, we get them where they need to be rapidly.”

Over the next few years, Great Lakes' crews will be using several types and sizes of excavators from the Cat 308 to the zero turn John Deere 245G to the Komatsu PC360. All these excavators will be plumbed hydraulically for hoe rams and tampers. A few smaller size dozers have been used for tight areas of grading, but the mainline grading dozer is the D61EX with the Topcon GPS system. Cat and John Deere loaders and backhoes round out the mainline equipment. A Link-Belt 138 and a Manitowoc 222 are being used for the sheet piling work at the retaining walls, while a Grove 630RT is used as a support crane.

The equipment is scattered over a larger area. When they are in use, they occupy a lane of traffic. At night, they are parked safely on the side of road behind the portable concrete barriers when practical. The equipment is not fenced in, and Fox is always concerned of theft and vandalism, especially in urban areas.

“We did have a skidsteer stolen on another job earlier in the year,” he said, “but with Metro Park adjacent to the site and the park police constantly monitoring the area, we're in a better situation than other projects.”

Matt Burda, Great Lakes Equipment manager, has been involved in the equipment planning with setting up the transfer of equipment to the multi-year job site.

“We were able to shift most of the equipment from Phase II to Phase III,” he said. “Our superintendents provide a forecast of equipment they need weeks and months before hand. Then, our operations team will logistically figure out the best way to provide them with the necessary equipment. Sometimes there are unexpected needs and we end up scrambling to find a piece of equipment, but by having great relationships with our local dealers, we can typically accommodate these ‘surprises' in a timely manner.

“Planning is everything in our company, especially with equipment moves,” he said. “Mobilizing large equipment gets expensive with trucking and permits. Great Lakes mechanics are proactive with preventative maintenance to keep our fleet up and running, but we do encounter breakdowns on a daily basis. This is expected with such a large fleet. With crews starting around 7:00 a.m., the phones normally begin ringing around 7:15 a.m. with miscellaneous problems rolling in. At that time, we prioritize the calls and see if one of our mechanics is in the area.

“If not, we will dispatch a mechanic out of our main yard,” Burda said. “Typically, we have seen a similar issue before and can determine what is needed for the repair. With this information we can pull parts out of our stock and send them with the mechanic so they are fully equipped to get the equipment back up and running as soon as possible. For larger breakdowns, we will bring the equipment back to our shop for repair. If another piece of equipment within our own fleet is not available, we reach out to our local dealers for rental options. We can usually have a replacement out to the job within hours to minimize loss of production.”

Some of the equipment is outfitted with GPS units. “The newer equipment in our fleet comes standard with integrated Telematics (GPS),” said Tyler J. Macali, Great Lakes' assistant equipment manager. “This technology allows us to watch our equipment from the office by managing location, fuel burn, idle time, service updates, warning alerts and utilization. Also, if a machine is started and moved after hours, we receive a text message alert to make sure it is an authorized move.

“This technology is new and only about 25 percent of our fleet is equipped with it,” he adds. “That percentage will grow as we upgrade our equipment each year. With the technology being so new we still keep track of our equipment locations the old fashioned way with magnets on a dry erase board. It's simple, but effective. Equipment idle time is another big component I personally watch. Unnecessary idle time costs us money, not only in fuel usage, but also by adding unnecessary hours on the equipment.”

The retiring and replacement of equipment is thoroughly considered. “Hours on our equipment is comparable to miles on your car,” said Burda. “The more hours on the machine, the less it is worth. Great Lakes has great pride in our equipment. We are pleased to say that we typically hold onto equipment longer than other companies with similar size fleets because of our maintenance programs. We run our equipment to about 8,000 to 10,000 hours and bring it in for a complete overhaul and paint job.

“After that we put the equipment back in service for another 4,000 hours or so,” he said. “We then make a decision to trade in on a new piece or send it to auction. There is a bell curve we follow where production drops and parts and service rise. This is when we decide our best way to approach each piece of equipment individually. Each year we complete an equipment evaluation and plan out what we intend to retire from our fleet.

“At the same time, we look at the upcoming forecast for the next year to decide what equipment will be utilized,” he said. “This helps us determine what we should plan on acquiring so we can support our jobs in the most efficient way possible. We often reach out to local dealers to put equipment on a rental-purchase plan. This allows us to rent the newest equipment and try it out with an option to purchase after six months. If the machine performs well and there is continued work for it in the future, that trial period typically ends with a purchase. If operators are unhappy with the performance or work slows up, we can return the machine with no penalties. Each year we purchase 15 to 20 new major pieces of iron and sell or trade in around 10.”

Relationships with dealers are critical.

“We work closely with our dealers and view them as partners,” said Macali. “Without their support we would not be in the position we are today. If a machine goes down, production stops. Having parts, tech support and great relationships with these local dealers helps keep us up and running. We are often invited to field days with these dealers to test the newest equipment that typically is not even out on the market yet. They value our feedback and when suggestions are made, you see improvements made on future models.

“It's really a team effort with equipment on both sides of the fence,” he said. “We are not tied to one specific dealer. There are several ‘big players' we deal with on a daily basis and having that great relationship is key. This also helps us when we are purchasing to keep prices competitive. These dealers are familiar with our fleet and know that their competitors do business with us. We also demo equipment to see how it performs side by side with other manufactures and get feedback from the operators in the field. This information goes a long way in the decision when the option to purchase arises. But bottom line is a big factor also.”