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I-70 Completed Ahead of Schedule in Missouri

Tue February 26, 2008 - Midwest Edition
Kathie Sutin

Driving is smoother on eastbound Interstate 70 in mid-St. Charles County, Mo., since the state constructed auxiliary lanes between Highway K and Mid Rivers Mall Drive. The lanes allow motorists to use the interchanges at Highway K, T. R. Hughes Boulevard, Highway 79 and Mid Rivers Mall Drive without slowing down through traffic.

St. Charles County, located across the Missouri River from St. Louis County, is part of the St. Louis metropolitan area.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) recently held a ribbon-cutting marking construction of the lanes but the ceremony was a bit premature.

“We planned the ribbon cutting and then the weather came in so there wasn’t a whole lot we could do,” MoDOT spokesman Andrew Gates said.

Crews completed the striping later that week. “They had to wait for non-snowy weather to stripe the lanes,” he said.

Striping is always a challenge especially late in the season where weather conditions and temperatures are constantly changing, Brian Carlson, project manager of Fred Weber Inc., of Maryland Heights, Mo., one of the primary contractors for the project, said.

“Luckily, we were able to stay a couple of weeks ahead of schedule for a majority of the project which allowed the striping to take place in early November before the bad weather hit,” he said.

Motorists are noticing a difference now that the lanes are striped and open, Gates said.

“It’s really nice for the St. Charles County folks, especially those on [Highway] 79 because they can just stay on that auxiliary lane and not immediately merge over which has been causing some congestion up around the Mid Rivers Mall area,” he said. “It’s going to keep traffic going a little bit smoother through there and give them a little bit longer to merge into the I-70 traffic going east.”

The auxiliary lanes stretch between the exit and entrance ramps, Gates said.

“The highway is still a three-lane highway at that point but it has an auxiliary lane,” he explained. “It’s kind of a long entrance and exit ramp. For all intents and purposes it acts like an extra lane but it allows folks coming off of [Highway] 79 or off of T.R. Hughes [Boulevard] or [Highway] K a little extra space before they have to merge.”

The project was divided into two segments.

Weber was the prime contractor for the lanes from Route K to Route 79, a $1.7 million job, and Gaines Construction Inc. of Wentzville, Mo., was the prime contractor for the $3.8 million segment of the project from Route 79 to Mid Rivers Mall Drive. Gaines did the grading, the drainage and the asphalt and concrete paving.

Subcontractors on the Route K to Route 79 segment included Asphalt Stone Co., which installed the rumble strips; Collins & Hermann Inc., which installed the guardrail and installed highway signing; Gerstner Electric Inc., which did ITS relocation work; Highway Technologies, which did traffic control; Park-Mark Inc., which installed the pavement striping; Roden’s Landscaping Inc., which seeded the area and provided erosion control; and TraMar Contracting Inc., which installed the temporary concrete traffic barrier.

At time as many as 50 people worked on the project during the “night time” concrete paving operations, which included several concrete batch haulers.

Workers used a hydraulic excavator, a track loader and a 750 dozer for grading and storm sewer installation equipment, Carlson said.

Crews used a placer/spreader machine along with a slipform paver for the concrete paving. Asphalt paving equipment consisted of a road widener and vibratory roller, he added.

“Completing the entire project in the allotted time was quite challenging, especially working in close proximity to the I-70 daily traffic,” Carlson said. “There was just over four months allowed for the project to be complete with $21,225 per day liquidated damages for each day the project was not finished by the December 1, 2007 deadline.”

The project was complete ahead of that date.

“Another challenging aspect was trying to complete the project in a less than typical sequence due to long lead times and fabrication time for the overhead signing materials. The asphalt shoulders had to be placed prior to placement of the concrete shoulders and traffic barrier in order to keep the project moving rather than waiting on specially fabricated material to be delivered and installed. This would have delayed the overall completion of the project.”

Fred Weber Inc. also worked with MoDOT to try and keep the project cost as low as possible by submitting three value engineering proposals totaling $84,000 in savings, Carlson said.

“That works out to about a five percent savings of the total project original cost,” he said.

The project involved moving a lot of dirt — approximately 13,000 cu. yd. (9,900 cu m) of material was excavated for the completion of the new auxiliary lanes. Approximately 4,000 cu. yd. (3,050 cu m) was excess material that Weber had to haul off of the project. Weber and O’Fallon city officials negotiated a deal to bring the excess dirt to a nearby piece of property owned by the city where it was compacted to an elevation that would be suitable for a future MoDOT commuter lot.

Some 10,000 sq. yd. (8,300 sq m) of concrete pavement was laid with 2,000 tons (1,800 sq m) of asphalt material for the shoulders. The auxiliary concrete lane that Weber placed received a maximum bonus for smoothness.

Equipment used on the Route 79 to Mid Rivers Mall Drive segment included the Gomaco 6300 concrete paver for concrete pavement and concrete barrier installation, Komatsu 228 and 400 excavators for removals, grading and drainage and the Vogele V110 asphalt paver for installation of asphalt pavement, base and shoulders.

Major subcontractors include St. Louis Bridge Company, which widened the bridge; NES Traffic Safety, which did traffic control and pavement marking; D&S Fencing Company, which provided guardrails, fencing and signing; and K. Bates Steel Services, which did bridge and barrier re-steel installation.

Some 14,000 cu. yd. (10,700 cu m) of dirt was moved. Crews installed 7,100 linear ft. (2,160 m) of drainage pipe varying in diameter from 6 to 42 in. (15 to 106 cm) and installed 4,400 linear ft. (1,340 m) of concrete barrier. They also poured 5,000 cu. yd. (3,800 cu m) of concrete and 2,500 tons (2,260 t) of asphalt.

The opening of the auxiliary lanes was “accelerated a little bit” to be completed by the end of the year in time for the closing of I-64/40, St. Louis’ main east-west corridor, Gates said. MoDOT officials tried to complete other projects in the area before the January closure. The agency urged motorists to plan alternative routes, take public transportation and travel off-hours to ease the congestion expected on other roadways. I-64/40 carries 140,000 vehicles each day.

“These lanes have been something we have been working on with the county and a few other folks for a while because it will help decrease congestion and improve people’s commute through that area,” Gates said.

“Folks who drive through there know there is a good amount of congestion, especially as people are coming off of [Highway] 79 into the Mid Rivers Mall area. This will reduce that. It will help keep traffic flowing smoother especially as we head into the I-64 closure. We tried to get a lot of projects to keep traffic flowing a little smoother completed by the end of the year.” CEG

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