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Greatly Needed Makeover Done on Alabama 210

Tue July 27, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley


APAC forces compacting the newly constructed 2 ft. (.6 m) asphalt shoulder work.
APAC forces compacting the newly constructed 2 ft. (.6 m) asphalt shoulder work.
APAC forces compacting the newly constructed 2 ft. (.6 m) asphalt shoulder work. APAC forces performing 2 ft. (.6 m) shoulder widening. A distributor truck spraying tack to prepare the earth for asphalt. Crews brushing the dirt off the edge of the asphalt. Motorgrader dressing up the shoulder as state troopers assist with traffic control.

A stretch of road frequently traveled by beach-goers and spring break revelers is undergoing a much-needed refurbishment in Dothan, Ala. The project, which consists of approximately 5 mi. (8 km) of planing, resurfacing, traffic striping and bridge rail retrofit, is located on Alabama 210 — also known as Ross Clark Circle — from Traders Drive to SR 12 ( US 84) in Houston County.

“It’s pretty congested during the day with cars and trucks moving and all, but there haven’t been any unusual delays or complications, and no overnight shutdowns,” explained Glenn Phillips, Dothan manager of general contractor APAC-Midsouth. “Still, anytime you restrict traffic to one lane, there are going to be a few headaches. And safety is always a big concern.”

Work on the project began with crews in the wiregrass completing the milling phase. Currently, asphalt widening is being carried out, as workers replace a 4 ft. (1.2 m) paved shoulder on the outside lane and a 2 ft. (.6 m) paved shoulder on the inside lane. The existing guardrails also are being removed as part of the repaving effort.

“This needed to be done, because the existing surface was showing excessive wear, rutting and cracking,” said Phillips. “The life expectancy of the current asphalt had reached its peak and simply needed to be resurfaced.”

The Georgia-based Miller Group was in charge of asphalt milling. Estimator John Safran explained, “ We used a CMI PR1050 milling machine with a 12-foot cutter drum with numerous teeth that cut the asphalt off the roadway to a particular depth. This allows you to complete one lane at a time. The teeth, which are carbide tipped, become one of the biggest costs of a milling operation.

“You always have to be concerned about breakdowns, either on our end or the contractor’s end,” added Safran. “Your goal is to get in, get the job done and get out. Efficiency is very important and every minute counts. You have to rely on others on the job, especially when you have asphalt that has to be laid back down within the same closure period. It’s a pretty tight operation. Plus, you’re having to deal with traffic control.”

Lee Gross, president of Ozark Striping, agreed the main challenge is dealing with countless motorists on the bypass, which reportedly total 30,000 per day, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).

“You’re dealing with a tremendous amount of vehicles out there on The Circle. That’s always a problem for us on a job,” said Gross.

Gross said arrow boards and signage help with traffic control, during both the initial painting and the return visit to make permanent markings by machine and hand.

“For this job, we don’t expect anything out of the ordinary. When they first do asphalt paving, we are required to come out and do temporary striping. There’s a 14-day curing on asphalt, then we come out and do the permanent striping over about a week-and-a-half,” he continued.

Ozark Striping uses painting equipment that’s unique to the industry, for maximum performance.

“It’s a thermoplastic powder that’s heated to 400 degrees, and we make it into a liquid. When we put it down it dries in less than two minutes. We keep the same trucks for years and just use forklifts to lift out the old beds and replace what’s needed and then weld everything together.”

Weather hasn’t posed a problem thus far, except for slight rain and occasional morning fog. More than a dozen crew members have taken advantage of the sunny weather as they run equipment including a Caterpillar paver, Ingersoll Rand asphalt rollers and a Weiler widener.

Another subcontractor, H & L Guardrail of Troy, Ala., is performing the guardrail upgrades on the project.

“We use a GRT Utilicorp guardrail hammer to install the guardrail posts,” said H & L Guardrail Vice-President Jay Corley. “We’re also using a Kobelco 135 excavator for some of the removal items.

“The most challenging part of my scope,” Corley added, “is the three beam retrofit, because it’s relatively new to ALDOT. Specifically, we’re looking at 2,400 linear feet of three beam guardrail, 2,385 linear feet of W Beam guardrail and about two dozen guardrail end anchors.”

SR-210 is highly developed and heavily used both by those who live and work in Dothan and by motorists headed to Florida who use it as a bypass around the city. A divided four-lane highway, the road was built in the late 1950s and was made possible by former Alabama governor Jim Folsom. Folsom determined the road be named Ross Clark, in honor of his brother-in-law, who passed away in 1955.

Also known simply as “The Circle,” the road has a route overlaid by US-84, US-231 and US-431. Geneva Grass general manager Lynn Bowman and his 12-man crew are responsible for keeping APAC in compliance with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

“Our job is erosion control. We have to retain storm water on the project, so that it doesn’t affect private property,” Bowman explained.

Once the grass is mowed and all the potential water problems are identified, the subcontractor has to follow a specific erosion control plan, then return at a later date to distribute lime and fertilizer. Materials used include silt fence, 20-in. (50.8 cm) diameter straw wattles, inlet protectors, erosion control netting, seed, sod and mulch. Geneva Grass is using a Bobcat with a trencher, Deutstch and John Deere tractors, two mulching machines, two seeders, a hydro-seeder and several water trucks to complete the work.

“We’ll mulch and crimp roughly 4,000 pounds of hay per acre. This project is about 80 acres, so we’ll go through a lot of hay, which we grow ourselves. There’s a good deal of maintenance involved on our end. so we’re always the last men standing on the job,” Bowman concluded.

The overall cost of refurbishing Ross Clark Circle is approximately $4 million, with work expected to be completed by mid-summer.