The Texas Department of Transportation’s U.S. 79 Super 2 Project in Tyler is being constructed Madden Contracting Company LLC.
Madden Contracting Company LLC (MCC) is months away from delivering the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) $14.4 million U.S. 79 Super 2 Project that is upgrading shoulders and driveways, as well as installing drainage structures from northeast of Loop 256 to the Anderson/Cherokee County line.
"The project is widening for a Super 2, including sub-grade work, surface treatment, base and surface hot-mix asphalt, widening structures, bridge rail, metal beam guard fence, signage and permanent striping," stated the project web page.
MCC crews began their operations in January 2020 and they expect to complete the job in spring 2022. The construction site is located near the city of Palestine, Texas.
To date, Madden Contracting Company has completed the following elements: prep right of way; driveway pipe; shoulder level-up; and southbound Super 2 widening. The remainder of the work is focusing on northbound Super 2 widening; guard rail; seal coating and PFC surface.
"Weather has been a challenge, primarily," said Jake Madden, MCC's supervisor and equipment operator. "Work has been progressing accordingly with the exception of the weather delays. Work space is not an issues as we have an area located on the project rented for the storing of materials that doubles as a location for a field office. All work is being performed during the day – we do have to start work after 8 a.m. due to the location of the project. We have had a couple of unforeseen issues come up throughout the project, but nothing too major. TxDOT has been acting very quickly to resolve any issues."
The upgrading of the shoulders and driveways was completed in March 2021.
"We had to perform a level up to correct the cross slope of the existing shoulders," said Madden. "This required milling a 2-inch joint against the edge of the travel lane and laying hot mix at variable depths in order to achieve the desired cross slope. The cross slope of the finished hot mix was crucial in order to give the subcontractor performing the base work a grade line to use for their work."
Crucial equipment for the project included cold planers — a Roadtec RX-900, 8-ft. paver and a Roadtec RP-175 — and a Roadtec SB-3000 material transfer vehicle.
"To reduce construction delays for the travelling public, hot mix is being used for the widened pavement instead of flexible base," said Eric Fisher, TxDOT's Athens area engineer. "It's difficult to determine a lifespan for new pavement, but [permeable friction course] PFC typically requires less short-term maintenance than a dense-graded hot mix surface. A PFC is being placed as the final driving surface. This material drains well, which improves visibility during rainfall. This material also has a longer lifespan before repair is anticipated."
Additional construction includes the installation of the new drainage structures and has crews installing driveway pipe, box extensions and new wingwalls on existing structures.
"The Super 2 widening is finished on the southbound side of the roadway, and we are currently working on the first of two of the widening areas on the northbound," said Madden.
"TxDOT had a good sequence of how the work should progress on the project," added Madden. "The main concern in a job this length is not to get ahead of yourself. With the weather in this area, you don't want any more miles of exposed work areas than you can reasonably manage at any given time."
The MCC project team includes a project superintendent for day-to-day operations and scheduling of subcontractors, the Texas paving crew and Madden.
"Most of us have worked together for years, so we know the others' needs and when to help each other out," said Madden. "All crews that have been working on the project have been doing outstanding quality work in a timely manner. The cold/wet weather that we experienced this winter has given us some setbacks, but we are on schedule to finish the project on time."
Peak days have seen up to 20 MCC and subcontractor personnel on-site. The subcontractors include Drewery Construction for prep right of way and subgrade widening; R&G Construction for driveway pipe, box extension and wing walls; and STI for work zone and permanent striping.
Excavation and demolition has generated 3,000 tons of asphalt and 4,000 cu. yds. of earth and rock.
"We have been recycling any usable material generated from the project," said Madden. "Our hot mix supplier will re-use any of the usable recycle generated from any of the milling for use back in the hot mix. We are very diligent on using recycled materials on our projects whenever we can and whenever the specification will allow it."
New materials brought will consist of 800 yds. of concrete, 70,000 tons of asphalt and 36,000 yds. of dirt.
Additional equipment being utilized includes: Cat 972 wheel loaders, Cat CB5-54 rollers, excavators for various parts of the project and stabilizers.
"We usually have the normal issues that every contractor deals with – busted hydraulic hoses and normal wear and tear," said Madden. "We do keep a mechanic on site for our operations. All of the day-to-day issues can be fixed in the field. For anything major, we will haul the machine to our shop."
Madden Contracting Company purchases and rents equipment from dealerships such as Louisiana Cat and Roadtec.
"We don't need to much, mainly parts availability to fix any issues with the equipment," said Madden. "They both have been more than helpful with getting us what we need in a timely manner."
This section of highway, two lanes in each direction, was constructed in 1958 and carries 5,000 car and trucks daily.
"This project adds Super 2 passing lanes, improves drainage and improves safety with drainage structure improvements and guardrail upgrades," said Fisher. "The new passing lanes will improve traffic flow by adding more passing opportunities. The project has been in the planning since 2016. This is Phase 2 of a U.S. 79 corridor improvement from Palestine to Jacksonville. Phase 1 in Cherokee County was completed in 2020."
Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. designed the infrastructure upgrade for the TxDOT Tyler District.
To ensure the safety of motorists, the speed limit in the work zone has been reduced to 60 mph. The traffic management plan is based on temporary lane closure, which can cause minor delays.
TxDOT also noted that in the Cherokee County – Jacksonville area — "maintenance crews plan to continue blade overlay on FM 343. The Rusk Maintenance crew will continue edge and base repair operations on FM 1911. Expect lane closures with traffic control managed by flaggers at both locations." CEG
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