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Keck Construction Rebuilds I-35 in OK

Mon May 03, 2004 - West Edition
Richard Miller

South of Oklahoma City, OK, on Interstate 35 lie two 7-mi. (8.4 km) sections of highway whose pavement dates back to 1971 and 1968. Long past their expected life spans, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (OKDOT) has taken steps to upgrade these aged sections of highway.

Two separate contracts were awarded to Keck Construction Inc., Tulsa, OK. The north project was let in August 2002 and totaled $10.1 million. It starts at the Murray-Carter county lines to the north and ends at mile marker 39.

The south contract totaled $11.8 million and started in April 2003. This project is 7 mi. (4.2 km) in length and ends within the city limits of Ardmore at mile marker 32.

According to Randle White, assistant division engineer of OKDOT, existing pavements will be used as a base for the new pavement.

“The original pavement was eight-inch continuously reinforced concrete pavement with a four-inch fine aggregate bituminous base,” White stated. “There were areas of the original pavement that had failures which will be patched with 11-inch dowel jointed concrete. In general, there was a minimal amount of joint repair.”

White said that the new pavement will be an S-4 Superpave overlay used as a bond breaker, which allows the bottom and top pavements to move independently. Paving on the north project was subcontracted to Broce Construction of Norman, OK, while the south project paving is being laid by Overland Corporation of Ardmore, OK.

Bridge decks are being overlaid with either a 2 or 5 in. (5 or 12.5 cm) high density latex-modified concrete with polypropylene fibers. Four bridges on the north project and eight bridges on the south project are being rebuilt. PBX Corporation of Sapulpa, OK, is performing the bridge work on both projects.

White also indicated that since the roadway would be raised about 1 ft. (.3 m), Keck trucked in 90,000 cu. yds. (69,231 cu m) of borrowed material to shoulder the roadway. An additional 120,000 cu. yds. (91,747 cu m) of material was used on the traffic crossovers.

White said the south project incorporated a special A+ B contract provision. This is a traditional bid where in addition to unit prices, time is assigned a certain dollar value, and contractors bid the number of days to complete the contract.

“The south bid was a little bit complicated because part of the project was within the city limits of Ardmore and part of it was out in the rural areas,” said White.

“The other thing that complicated this project was another separate project on I-35 to the north of these two projects where all the traffic was shifted to the southbound lanes while the northbound lanes were rebuilt. Then the traffic was shifted to the new lanes while the southbound lanes were rebuilt,” he added.

“We recognized the fact that we had seven miles of one-lane interstate traffic each direction and if we did the south project the same way that would be fourteen miles of one-lane traffic,” White continued.

The south project has three interchanges in Ardmore that served various businesses such as an oil refinery, a Michelin tire manufacturing facility and some regional distribution centers.

“We recognized that we needed to try to minimize the impact of this project on these area businesses by completing the project in a timely fashion, so this two-mile stretch had a ten-day incentive at $10,000 per day up to a maximum of $100,000,” said White. The north project had a 30-day incentive of $7,000 per day.

The biggest challenge for these projects was managing the traffic, especially during special events and holidays. The Thanksgiving holiday was especially heavy, with traffic increasing from 30,000 to 75,000 per day.

With this increase, and the anticipated increases from the annual Texas-Oklahoma football game in Dallas, OKDOT imposed lane rental stipulations.

To qualify for these lane rental provisions, the Keck Construction had to have the highway open to four lanes during these special event periods. If they did not have the lanes open, the disincentive was $4,000 per hour per lane that was closed. Keck determined that the disincentive could cost them $500,000 in just one weekend. However, White said that Keck was able to meet all lane rental provisions.

White also said that ramp rental provisions were incorporated on the interchange at S.H. 142. Failing to keep the ramp lanes open would cost the contractor $12,000 per hour per lane that was closed. Keck met this goal by constructing a temporary ramp at its own cost.

The north contract provides 320 days for completion, while the south project is schedule for completion in September 2004.