Work Speeds Ahead on Replacing Century-Old Bridges With Tunnel

Gulf Equipment Crews to Widen Hillcrest Road

Tue April 24, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Beverly B. Nichols



When completed, a $6.6 million road construction project in Mobile, Ala., should relieve congestion on one of the city’s busiest roads.

Under the auspices of the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), the contract calls for the widening of Hillcrest Road from Airport Boulevard north to Old Shell Road — a distance of nearly 1 mi. (1.6 km).

Now two lanes, the road will be widened to four lanes and a turn lane making it consistent with the stretch of Hillcrest south of Airport.

Gulf Equipment Corporation of Theodore, Ala., received the contract for the construction, 80 percent of which will be paid for by federal funds. The state will pay the rest.

Gulf Equipment’s on-site supervisor, Mitchell Stringer, keeps a keen eye on the work currently underway. He said the operation is going well, noting that “it was a bit behind schedule because of the relocation of utility lines, but we’ve pretty much caught up.”

As traffic at the site moved slowly up and down Hillcrest, Stringer’s crew was busy operating a John Deere 650H crawler dozer and a Sakai RO 56 along one side of the road while further down, a Cat excavator was clearing an area for grading.

Along the road, in off-side areas, pieces of equipment from Deere, Komatsu, Caterpillar and other manufacturers waited in readiness.

John Chism, in-house project manager for Gulf Equipment, elaborated on Stringer’s comments.

“In 260 working days, our job is to do the clearing, grading, drainage, paving, road signs — everything to complete the construction — and we are also relocating the water and sewer lines. We’re half-way through laying 3,900 linear feet of 16 inch ductile iron water main and then we will install 800 feet of 8-inch PVC.”

Chism continued, saying that, relative to the road work, 10,000 cu. yds. (7,600 cu m) of unclassified dirt has been moved and 15,000 cu. yds. (11,500 cu m) of fresh dirt has been brought in.

Also, Chism indicated that a bridge and culvert which provided run-off for a local creek, located midway down the stretch of road, is scheduled for demolition and this work has begun.

Two local firms, Mobile Asphalt and C. Thornton Inc., are sub-contractors. Mobile Asphalt will remove the bridge overlay and C. Thornton Inc. has begun work on removing the culvert. They also will build the new one and prepare l.3 mi. (2 km) of a new storm drain.

The construction’s progress also was confirmed by ALDOT Project Manager Skip Vines. In a phone interview, he spoke more fully of the early difficulties that occurred during the relocation of utility lines.

“They were covered in a separate contract, except for water and sewer, and this was a difficult and time-consuming operation which began many months ago and is almost finished now.”

Vines added that a great effort was made to avoid problems for its customers by the participating companies, such as Mobile Gas and Bell South.

Gulf Equipment was founded in 1984 by L.W. Ramsey Jr., who continues to serve as its president. Its operations are in south Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and south Mississippi and include private subdivision development, construction of public highways and utilities, site work and land clearing. CEG