In February 2009 the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed into law by President Obama. Also known as the economic stimulus package, the act provided for $787 billion to be used in numerous sectors, including improvement of the nation’s infrastructure. For its part, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has invested about $1 billion in stimulus funds to date with 354 projects given notice to proceed and 502 total projects certified for the program. One such project that is receiving stimulus funds is the widening and reconstruction of a portion of U.S. 441.
GDOT awarded a $34.5 million contract to Pittman Construction Company, Conyers, Ga., for the widening and reconstruction of U.S. 441 (SR 24) beginning just north of CR 245/Cay Road and ending at U.S. 129/SR 44 at the Eatonton Bypass. The project has received approximately $7.3 million from stimulus funds to date.
Located in Putnam County, the road work stretches for about 8.3 mi. (13.28 km) long. Construction began in spring 2010 and should be completed by May 31, 2012.
Pittman’s contract consists of widening the existing two-lane highway into a four-lane divided highway. The widening will occur along the existing alignment until just south of Denise Station Road. At that point, the next 2 mi. (3.2 km) of the road work will be completed on new alignment to the west of the existing alignment. According to Jim Bronaugh, vice president and chief engineer of Pittman, the alignment had to be moved in order to preserve an old church and cemetery. Also part of the contract, widening will occur across Lake Sinclair where two existing equilibrium concrete, cast-in-place culvert structures will be replaced.
Another feature of the contract is the construction of a new concrete bridge that will cross over existing Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and Denise Station Road before tying into the existing South Eatonton Bypass. Bronaugh said it is familiar territory since Pittman Construction built the South Eatonton Bypass several years ago.
The bridge, measuring about 320 ft. (97.5 m) will be “replacing an at-grade crossing,” Bronaugh stated. Local bridge building contractor, Gregory Bridge Co., is the subcontractor hired to build the bridge.
The project consists of 1.7 million total cu. yds. (1.29 million cu m) of earthmoving.
“Close to 1.3 million cubic yards of borrow was brought in,” explained Bronaugh. There was also “roughly 400,000 cubic yards of unclassified material” that the subcontractor had to deal with. For the earthwork, John Deere 9400 series tractors were used to pull scraper excavators that had a capacity of 16 cu. yds. (12.16 cu m) each.
So far, the entire project has been cleared. Grading of the two new additional lanes for the length of the project is about 50 percent complete.
Grading is being performed by subcontractor McCoy Grading Inc., Greenville, Ga. The first stage of work on the rock embankment into Lake Sinclair and the first stage of work on the equilibrium culverts have been completed. Bridge work should begin by Dec. 1.
“We will start paving after Thanksgiving. Asphalt work will continue through the winter with the goal of switching traffic over by February 2011. By March, we can go full guns again,” Bronaugh said.
Pittman self-performs the asphalt paving work with ROTEC paving equipment and will be using about 205,000 tons (184,500 t) of asphalt on this job.
In addition to ROTEC paving equipment, excavators, large bulldozers, scrapers and cranes will be utilized on the project. In regard to equipment manufacturers his company uses, Bronaugh said, “We give everybody a fair shake—Cat, John Deere, Komatsu…”
Portions of the job site are environmentally sensitive. Clearing of the new location could not start until after Sept. 1 due to the nesting and mating habits of certain bird species including barn swallows and cliff swallows.
“We still have to be on patrol to look out for them while working,” Bronaugh elaborated. “Additionally, working around Lake Sinclair involves extensive erosion control.”
The U.S. 441 corridor travels the length of Georgia beginning at the North Carolina state line and extending to the Florida state line. It is approximately 371 mi. (594 km) long. When finished, this project is expected to alleviate congestion and capacity problems on the roadway. CEG
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