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Joint Venture Widens Indiana Toll Road

Mon November 16, 2009 - Midwest Edition
Maura Bohart and Peter Suanlarm

For the past three years, the Indiana Toll Road has undergone major improvements. These improvements came about as a result of the growing population in Lake and Porter counties, necessitating the ITR Concession Company LLC (ITRCC) to widen the Indiana Toll Road.

As a result, ITRCC hired Indiana Toll-Roads Contractors LLC, a joint venture between Ferrovial Agroman Indiana LLC and Reith Riley Construction Co., for the job.

Since the fall of 2006, Indiana Toll-Roads Contractors LLC has worked on the Indiana Toll Road projects between mile post 10.6 and 20.27 — widening the major thoroughfare from two to three lanes.

“The road will be widened and reconstruct — decks removed,” Jim Wiseman of Indiana Toll-Roads Contractors LLC, said. “ The upper decks are being removed. [We are also doing] earthworks, widening, new columns and supports, pretty much a total reconstruct.”

Additionally, the project consists of concrete paving, asphalt paving, new bridge structures, new columns and earthworks.

This design-build project was divided into three phases. Each phase included pavement and structure enhancements to accommodate an additional driving lane.

Completion is scheduled for end 2010.

These works are in accordance with the Mandatory Expansion Projects required by the Indiana Toll Road Concession and Lease Agreement.

A Growing Population

In operation since 1956, the Indiana Toll Road stretches 157 mi. across Indiana from Ohio to the Illinois state line. The highway links Chicago with the eastern seaboard and also serves as the primary connecting route to the Chicago Skyway.

“The traffic studies have been in place for years,” Wiseman said. “The Indiana Toll Road has seven counties along that span, but the most heavily traveled area is Lake County and Porter County, because of their proximity to Chicago. If you listen to the radio in this area, I-94 is constantly backed up, so [the toll road has] become a tremendous asset as an alternative route.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, St. John’s population more than doubled. In Porter, it grew by 33 percent. As a result, this population growth was the impetus for widening the Toll Road.

The project materialized in 2006 when the governor of Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels, leased the Indiana Toll Road to Indiana Toll Road Concession Company for 75 years. At that point, Ferrovial Agroman Indiana LLC and Reith Riley went into a partnership and the Indiana Toll-Roads Contractors LLC were formed to perform the Mandatory Expansion Works.

“By the fall of 2006, the project started and has been in full gear ever since,” Wiseman said. “We’ve pretty much worked even through the winters because of our tight time frame. The project is slated to be finished by December of 2010.”

Wiseman added that the project also employs a crew of 125 to 200 workers on any given day.

“This area has exploded with Illinois residents moving from the south suburbs over here,” Wiseman said. “People are coming, so it only makes sense that you’ve got to prepare for the future by widening the roads.”

Because of the heavy traffic caused by this population explosion, the state of Indiana had already begun widening the Indiana Toll Road, but then the state leased the road to Indiana Toll Road Concession Company LLC.

“One of the commitments that Indiana Toll Road Concession Company LLC made, [when they leased the toll road], was that they would continue with this project and widen this portion of the road,” Wiseman said.

Facing Challenges

Indiana Toll-Road Contractors not only have to contend with traffic but with neighboring buildings and business including U.S. Steel. Wiseman said dealing with underground utilities has been the one of the biggest challenges on the Indiana Toll Road widening project.

“We’re finding surprises on a daily basis sometimes,” Wiseman said. “There’s everything from fiber optic lines to hidden sewers that have been there for a hundred years…When you’re right next to one of the biggest steel mills in the world, you can imagine what’s underground.”

Indiana Toll-Roads Contractors LLC has “about a dozen” subcontractors to help with the underground surprises, but it has still been a challenge, mainly because utilities take time.

“We’re under a strict time limitation, so any chance that we [can work, even in] inclement weather, we’re out there working. In the last winter, we really had a major effort through the winter and though rainstorms,” Wiseman said.

Cutting Bridges in Half

The Indiana Toll Road project runs across different landscapes including the Grand Calumet River.

Engineering the project around the snaking river also has been challenging at times.

Wiseman noted that, during construction, Indiana Toll-Road Contractors LLC also were required to maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction.

“There are areas where we’ve actually got to split the bridge move traffic to one side while we tear the other side down, and finally and jack it up to right elevation and perform a brand new deck, which becomes a huge engineering feat,” Wiseman said.

Big effort is also put in to maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction, and that’s important on a project like this, because many commuters depend on the Indiana Toll Road.

Maintaining the Machines

Because of the size of the project, Wiseman commented that Indiana Toll-Road Contractors has been using Case equipment, rented from McCann Industries, for the project.

“It’s worked out absolutely wonderful,” Wiseman said. “We’ve had a wide variety of Case equipment out there and it has performed beautifully.”

Currently, there are 13 machines on the job: six Case excavators — two CX210s, a CX225, two CX330s and a CX290; two 721E Case wheel loaders; two FB208 vibratory compactors; an SV212 vibratory compactor; two 850K dozers; and a 580 Super M.

Wiseman added, on average, 15 to 25 machines work at the job site.

The equipment has the Qualcom Tracs system installed on it, and the system doesn’t just track stolen equipment. It also tracks things that are much more mundane, such as when to change the oil.

“[McCann] knows when it’s time for servicing, whether it’s a $100 service, a $500 service, a $1,000 service, whether it needs an oil change or it’s time for filters or it’s time for transmission fluids,” Wiseman said. “At that point, McCann calls us and we give them approval to go forward.”

Like clockwork, McCann does the maintenance and then sends an invoice.

“And it’s done. It’s one stop shopping. It’s been really effective and very easy to track that way,” Wiseman said.

Maloney added, “Our service manager, Tom Crawford, coordinates with the Indiana Toll Road Contractors field personnel. [They determine] when the most opportune time is to service [the equipment] to keep the disruption to a minimum, so we go out evenings or on a Saturday or when we know the machine is down to get the maintenance done.”

Most of the maintenance is done onsite.

“There’s been minimal down time,” Wiseman said. “They’ve been just absolutely phenomenal as far as being able to service our needs, being there on a timely basis.”

The Case of a

Missing Case

The Qualcom Tracs system came in handy almost instantly and saved Indiana Toll-Road Contractors a valuable piece of iron.

This occurred when Mike Maloney of McCann Industries called Wiseman to ask if the machine was where it was supposed to be in November 2008. Maloney informed Wiseman that his Case equipment had moved off the Indiana job site.

No one expected it to turn up in South Haven, Mich.

“These machines are locked into an area based on their Qualcom GlobalTracs GPS signals,” Wiseman explained. “You can set boundaries and say, ’If this machine goes past Broadway [Street] on the west and Tennessee [Avenue] on the east, send an alert,’ and McCann gets alerted through the system that the machine is on the move.”

After receiving the call, Wiseman sent a supervisor to check on the machine, but it was nowhere to be found.

“So at that point, McCann’s service manager got into the system and started tracking [the machine],” Wiseman said. “He discovered that the machine was sitting on the corner of I-94 and a side street in South Haven, Mich.”

Wiseman called the South Haven police and within a couple of minutes, the machine was located in the parking lot of the Ramada Inn.

“That’s a testament to the GlobalTracs system,” Wiseman said.

Unfortunately, they never caught the perpetrators.

“They [perpetrators] took the machine. Obviously they had to have a lowboy to move it,” Wiseman said. “Somewhere along the line, they must have got spooked. They took it off of the lowboy and just dropped it in the parking lot. We were never able to catch them, but within three hours, we had the machine back at the job site.”

Teamwork Gets

It Done

During the whole project, Indiana Toll-Road Contractors has had to work closely with the city of Gary, Ind., with the state of Indiana, with local business such as U.S. Steel, with major utility companies and even a minor league baseball stadium.

Wiseman said that Indiana Toll-Roads Contractors LLC keeps an eye on local traffic while keeping public safety in mind.

“It’s been a major feat keeping everybody in the loop and safe,” Wiseman said. “The general public is our main concern.”

For more information on Ferrovial Agroman, visit

For more information on Rieth-Riley, visit

For more information on McCann Industries, visit


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