I-84 Reconstruction on Track for Fall Finish

Fri April 22, 2005 - Northeast Edition
David S. Chartock

The reconstruction of a portion of Interstate 84 (I-84), which is nearing completion, required an array of heavy construction equipment to meet project challenges and normal project needs.

According to Rick Negro, the project manager of Plainville, CT-based Manafort Brothers Inc., the project’s general contractor, the project, which began May 21, 2003, included the reconstruction of 3 mi. (4.8 km) of mainline I-84, both eastbound and westbound, in Southington and Cheshire, CT.

Plans also called for the complete replacement of two bridges. One of the bridges is the Bird Street Bridge in Southington. This bridge goes over both the eastbound and westbound sides of I-84. The other bridge is SR-597. This bridge extends off the ramp from I-84 westbound and goes over I-84 eastbound, he noted.

Both bridge replacements, he continued, consist of new concrete abutments, new girders, and new concrete decks and parapets.

The SR-597 bridge is 225 ft. (69 m) long and the Bird Street Bridge is 250 ft. (76.2 m) long, Negro noted.

The project’s scope of work also consisted of 400,000 sq. yds. (334,451 sq m) of milling and the installation of 17,000 ft. (5,182 m) of concrete barriers that divide east and west, the ramps, etc., he added.

It also called for 35,000 ft. (10,668 m) of temporary concrete barriers, 29,000 cu. yds. (22,172 cu m) of excavated rock, 250,000 tons (226,796 t) of bituminous concrete paving, 14,000 cu. yds. (10,704 cu m) of concrete for road base and drainage work.

Drainage work consisted of the installation of 12,000 ft. (3,658 m) of various sizes of drainpipes and 250 catch basins. In addition, water main work included the installation of 9,000 ft. (2,743 m) of water mains in and around the project, including over the Bird Street Bridge, he said.

Negro pointed out that his firm also performed electrical trenching that totaled 13 mi. (21 km).

In addition, the scope of work also called for the installation of signage, guardrails, wood noise barrier walls, and line striping, he explained.

With all of this work, the I-84 reconstruction project team was faced with numerous challenges.

The first major challenge, Negro said, was “a 70-ton pick that had to be made to set the steel on the SR-597 Bridge.”

The reason this pick was so challenging was because “two steel girders had to be set simultaneously. The solution was to splice them together at their diaphragms and then set them as one unit,” he explained.

To perform the lift, a 220-ton Manitowoc 888 lattice truck crawler crane was used. “It was challenging because the girders are 75 feet long and 10 feet deep,” Negro added.

Before the lift was performed, he noted, the girders were set on the ground for splicing and installation of the diaphragms. Then the Manitowoc 888 crane was used to lift the two girders, as one, into place.

In addition, this lift had to be performed at night for safety reasons. The highway also was shut down from midnight to 5 a.m. over a two-to-three-week period, he said.

The setting of the precast concrete beams on the Bird Street Bridge also was challenging, he added. Each 120-ft. (36.5 m) beam weighed 35 tons (32 t). Because of their length and weight, a two-crane pick was required.

“We used a 150-ton and a 200-ton rubber-tired hydraulic Demag crane. One crane was placed on the bridge behind the abutment and the second crane was placed below the median, 25 feet above the highway. A truck with a beam was atop the bridge level. Both cranes were rigged to a beam. The two cranes, working in concert, raised each beam and set it in place. A total of six beams were set in two nights, he explained.

Negro said that another big challenge related to the Bird Street Bridge occurred during the demolition of the old bridge structure.

“The demolition required a three-girder pick simultaneously. This had to be done twice. Each pick was about 53 tons,” he explained.

These picks required the use of the Manitowoc 888 crane placed on the median area below the bridge. The procedure took three nights, he noted.

Yet another project challenge, Negro said, involved the removal of 29,000 cu. yds. (22,172 cu m) of rock located on the edges of the existing roadways. Rock removal took place in the face of oncoming traffic in both directions and adjacent to two upscale residential neighborhoods.

In addition, he added, the rock had to be removed without disturbing the traveling public or the tranquility of the adjacent neighborhoods.

The solution to this challenge, Negro said, was to enlist the skills of Manafort Brothers’ Drilling and Blasting Division. Crews from this division first performed some blast surveys. Then, they line-drilled the truck, blasted and then removed it, he explained.

They used Ingersoll-Rand air-blast drills and Caterpillar, John Deere and Volvo excavators for the removal of the rock. The rock was then hauled off site, some of which was recycled and some of which was used as fill, Negro said.

According to Negro, workers set 17,000 lineal feet of permanent concrete barriers. “The challenge was getting the concrete barriers set in a timely manner,” he added.

To accomplish this task, a John Deere 750 backhoe was used to set the barriers in place, he explained.

“We also used a Gomaco concrete road base applicator because it eliminated the need to form all of the concrete for the road base and it allowed the width of the concrete base to be set,” Negro explained.

To place and set 35,000 ft. (10,668 m) of precast concrete barriers, “We tried several rubber-tired backhoes to set these temporary barriers. There was difficulty picking and handling these barriers until we found a Cat 322C, a rubber-tired backhoe that was ideal for the handling and placing of these barriers. The reason the Cat 322C was ideal was because of its capacity and size. It enabled us to pick and handle these barriers efficiently and quickly,” he noted.

To keep the community informed of the project’s progress, Negro said Manafort brothers instituted a community outreach program. This program, he explained, consisted of weekly updates of the project’s schedule and progress using letters to residents. In addition, the Connecticut Department of Transportation also issued press advisories to the local media.

An array of equipment has been used on the project, including: a Manitowoc 888, 220-ton (200 t) lattice track crawler crane; a 110-ton (100 t) and a 150-ton (136 t) rubber-tired hydraulic Demag crane; Ingersoll-Rand air-blast drills; Caterpillar, John Deere and Volvo excavators; a John Deere 750 backhoe, a Gomaco concrete road base applicator, a Cat 322C rubber-tired backhoe; Cat graders, mini-excavators, and front-end loaders.

It also includes bulldozers, dirt and bituminous rollers, Blaw-Knox pavers; Grove 45-ton (41 t), 50-ton (45 t) and 90-ton (82 t) hydraulic cranes; tri-axle trucks, Euclid off-road haulers; Schwing concrete pump trucks; a Vermeer trencher; an E-Z Gang drill; Tramac and Stanley hoe rams and a concrete pulverizer and shear.

The project, Negro said, is on schedule and on budget and it will be completed on time. The project is scheduled to be completed on Oct. 15, 2005. CEG