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First Part of Rte. 364 Upgrade in Books; Second Ready to Go

Wed August 18, 2010 - Midwest Edition
Kathie Sutin

Grading equipment beeped in the background as local officials and representatives of state and local lawmakers cut the ribbon to open a new section of Rte. 364 to motorists as work continues on three additional projects that will extend the road three miles to Mid-Rivers Mall Drive in 2012.

The $19.7 million project included, besides an additional mile of Rte. 364 from west of Jungg Station Road to just east of Woodstone Drive, construction of one-way outer roads and a new bridge to take Harvester Road over Rte. 364.

The project also removed another traffic signal from Rte. 364 improving the traffic flow on Harvester Road and Rte. 364.

Some 705,000 cu. yds. (539,011 cu m) of material were removed from the project and 590,000 cu. yds. (451,087 cu m) of fill material was used. Crews laid 40,000 cu. yds. (30,582 cu m) of concrete pavement and used 155 tons (140.6 t) of structural steel and 60 tons (54.4 t) of rebar in the Harvester Road overpass.

Fred Weber Inc. of Maryland Heights was the general contractor. Other contractors on the project were ATK Safety Supply Inc., Custom Coating Inc., D&S Fencing Co., Gerstner Electric Inc., Precision Construction Services, RoadSafe Traffic LP, Roden Landscaping Inc., Semke Grading, Subsurface Constructors Inc., and Tramar Contracting Inc.

A variety of construction equipment helped bring the Harvester Road project in suburban St. Charles County, Mo., to a successful completion last month. The project is Phase 2 of the Route 364 (Page Avenue) extension.

That equipment included backhoes, track hoes, dozers, high lifts, rubber tire cranes, large cranes, skid steers, challengers, scrapers, dump trucks, articulating dumps, side dumps, belly dumps, sheeps foot rollers, rubber tire rollers, concrete pavers, asphalt pavers, rock trimmers and a barrier slip form machine.

In an interview following the ceremony, MoDOT Engineer Mike Castro said the equipment used on the project was “pretty much standard construction — stuff you would see on a normal highway project.”

Barry Bergman, MoDOT project manager, talked about the main challenges contractor Fred Weber Construction Co. met on the project that began in late 2007.

“I think the biggest challenge was getting the right-of-way purchased,” he said. That involved buying a number of commercial properties. “In a lot of cases we ended up having to condemn,” he said.

Another major issue was utilities.

“We built new outer roads and moved everything out,” said Bergman. “All the utilities that were in our corridor had to move, and that’s a major challenge. Those were the two big things to get things going. Once the utilities were moved and we had the right-of-way clear, then the contractor could get in there and build the one-way outer roads first.

“Once the outer roads were done, we put traffic on them the way they are today and then we worked the middle to compete all the construction on the main freeway.

“And we’ll use that same philosophy as we go all the way down to Mid-Rivers Mall Drive.”

Moving the utilities was “pretty costly, depending whose right-of-way they are on,” he said. “If the utilities were on our right-of-way previously, then they have to move them at their own cost. If they were on their own easement, MoDOT pays the cost to relocate them.”

According to Bergman, the project, which got underway in August of 2007, was originally supposed to be completed last fall. MoDOT extended the contract because of delays due to one specific thing — rain in the spring of 2008.

“The early portions of the work involved a lot of grading — moving a lot of dirt — and when it gets too wet, they (crews) can’t do it,” said Bergman. “They’ve got to wait for it to dry out. We set a record for the most rainfall in history so that really set us back.”

“This has been a long time coming,” Grace Nichols, the only MoDOT commissioner at the ceremony, said. “There are people here today who were working on this 30 or 40 years ago. At least this portion of it will be finished today but we need to go forward as well.” She said she and others will “continue to work to finish Page Avenue in Phase 3.”

“To get something [like this] done takes a lot more than just engineering and all the great contractors we have working on this. It takes the effort of a lot of elected officials [and] community support,” Ed Hassinger, MoDOT district engineer for the St. Louis region, said.

When officials were planning Phase 2 of the Page Avenue extension a few years ago “people would have thought, ’Boy money is tight. Things are tough.’ Everybody was not sure” the project would happen, he said.

But it took “a lot of different funding sources . . . to get us completely funded to Mid- Rivers Mall Drive,” he said. “I want you to know we’re opening this (section) today but we are completely funded and under construction on Phase 2 of Page Avenue to complete it.”

It took funding from local sources and from the state after voters approved Amendment 3 several years ago allowing general fund moneys to be used for highway construction as well as federal stimulus funding, he said.

“St. Charles County and the city of St. Peters put money in,” Hassinger said. “It took all of those things together and a herculean lift to get us to this point.” The big picture shows that “to do these kind of things doesn’t happen without the effort of all those folks.”

Jim Mitas, project coordinator for Senator Todd Akin, said the Page project has been Akin’s “infrastructure project” and almost every year he’s been in Congress he’s requested appropriations to help the project along.

“We don’t have the exact figures but the anticipated return on investment that this project will generate is going to be very worthy of the taxpayer dollars that go into it,” he said. Those returns include safety enhancements, cleaner air because motorists will not be stuck in traffic, reduced travel time, development along the corridor and in the central part of the county and also the jobs the development will bring, he added.

“I can’t emphasize enough how important road projects like this are to the growth of our county and, indeed, the entire region,” St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann said. “This project is not just important to St. Charles County. It’s important to St. Louis County as well.

“There are a lot of jobs in St. Charles that people in St. Louis will be able to get to out here in addition to our people being able to get to their jobs in St. Louis County.”

The next phase of the project will see construction of a highway with four lanes in each direction between Junggs Station Road and Mid-Rivers Mall Drive in St. Charles County.

Crews are currently relocating utilities between Jungermann Road and Mid- Rivers Mall Drive in St. Peters, Mo. Work includes a new overpass for Woodstone Drive and construction of north and south outer roads.

“These urban widening jobs are really tough on utilities because they run along the corridor and they’ve got to move,” Bergman said in the interview after the ceremony. “There’s just a lot of work, and it takes time.”

Three segments remain in the Page Avenue extension projects: from the end of this project to Central School Road and then two from Central School (Road) to Mid-Rivers Mall, he said.

The project to Central School Road could end “a little bit” earlier than 2012, the expected completion date, Castro said. It was supposed to be finished earlier “but we’ve got a lot of utility problems,” he said. “We’ve had a 10-month delay on utilities so far.”

“We’re almost out of it. We’re actually making progress now in some areas,” said Castro. “The problem is moving ’em. We’ve got a lot of utilities.”

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