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James Construction Leads First Phase of $1.4B Elevation of LA 1

Tue December 23, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Zoie Clift

The first phase of a $1.4-billion project to upgrade and elevate Louisiana Highway 1, a two-lane artery for oil and gas and refining capacity, is under way.

Baton Rouge-based James Construction Group (JCG) is working on Phase 1A of the project, which began in September 2007. The $137.5 million project—which is one part of a three-phase job for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development— entails construction on 5.5 mi. (8.8 km) of a 40-ft. (12.2 m) wide two-lane elevated concrete roadway between Port Fourchon and Leeville in Southeastern Louisiana.

The new 22.5-ft. (6.8 m) high span is anticipated to be finished in January 2012. Work started at the intersection of existing LA 1 and LA 3090 and is heading north toward the tie-in with Phase 1B of the project. The company is using a “top down” method to minimize impact to the marsh and currently there are 45 workers on the endeavor.

“This project is unique in that it is the only structure in Louisiana utilizing this method of construction,” said Danny Hester, COO of James Construction.

The new highway is part of a multi-phase plan to upgrade and elevate a 16.8 mi. (27 km) stretch of LA 1, which connects Port Fourchon’s activity to the rest of the state and nation and provides the only land access to the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) by way of a two-lane road that cuts through the marsh at ground level. The LOOP’s pipelines connect 17 percent of the country’s refinery capacity. The highway is the only evacuation route for lower Lafourche Parish and Grand Isle, the state’s only inhabited barrier island. The new road will be elevated to counteract flooding that the old LA 1 suffered due to subsidence and coastal erosion.

According to Hester, construction activities for Phase 1A include 435 concrete bents, 232,661 linear ft. (70,915 m) of 24-in. (61 cm) concrete pile, 28,834 linear ft. (8,788 m) of voided slabs, 96,760 linear ft. (29,492 m) of Type III girders and 6.9 million lbs. (3.1 million kg) of deformed reinforcing steel.

Hester said major equipment utilized on the project includes two Manitowoc 14000 crawler cranes, one 165-ton (150 t) Terex crane and specialty equipment such as two Shuttlelift ISL mobile gantry cranes, an ISL 55B and 70B.

“The company purchased the Gantry cranes in order to fulfill the LA DOTD’s requirement for end-on construction, a method that involves staging equipment off the roadway itself rather than from barges,” said Hester. “ We are constructing a temporary 1,560-foot long steel trestle throughout the length of the project, from which all construction of the permanent bridge is being done. This approach is designed to prevent any disruption to or damage of the sensitive wetlands over which the roadway is being built.”

Due to the difficult terrain, both ISL cranes are operating on temporary rail tracks that are being piled-in to run alongside the elevated section, leapfrog style. They pick up pre-delivered and pre-cast concrete bridge sections and girders. Both ISLs were custom built to operate on rails, while retaining the ability to be converted back to traditional rubber-tired gantries once the job is complete.

According to Hester, there was some delay of the project due to the weather conditions associated with hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Delays included, for example, mandatory evacuations, flooding due to the storm surge and clean up after the water receded.

Because of the elevated roadway’s new alignment, the project doesn’t interfere with the existing LA 1 roadway that motorists are currently using.

A total of $306.5 million of contracts were awarded for construction of the two lane elevated highway on all three phases of work (Phases 1A, 1B and 1C). These projects traverse through 7.7 mi. (12.4 km) of the most vulnerable highway of existing LA 1. The LA 1 Coalition and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development have taken steps to ensure the project’s construction preserves marshland and coast.

As to the rest of the project, the DOTD awarded a $141.4 million contract in December 2005 to the joint venture of Traylor Bros. and Massman Construction Co. of Kansas City, Mo., for Phase 1B, part of the relocated Leeville to Port Fourchon project, including north and south connector bridges and mainline approaches to the bridge structure. In February 2006, the joint venture won a $20.2-million contract for Phase 1C, which will be the main span of a bridge crossing at Bayou Lafourche. Both phases are scheduled to be completed with new traffic on it by November 2009. Phase 1C will continue removal of the existing Leeville Bridge after the new Bayou Lafourche Bridge is open to traffic.

A $7.9 million dollar contract was awarded to Ernest P. Breaux Electrical Inc. in March 2008 for Phase D, which includes toll and intelligent transportation systems to be installed on Phases 1A, 1B and 1C. Also a Customer Service Center will be built in Golden Meadow, for purchasing of tickets for crossing the toll facility.

The remaining 9.1-mi. (14.6 km) portion of LA 1 replacement highway contract is currently under design and right-of-way acquisition for the project. This project will connect Phases 1A, 1B and 1C with the town of Golden Meadow, ending within the current hurricane protection levee system.

(This story also can be found on Construction Equipment Guide’s Web site at CEG

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