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McCourt Construction Begins Widening Infamous Route 128

Wed March 18, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Jay Adams

Work has begun on a major component of MassHighway’s Route 128 highway expansion project, a lane-widening effort that will bring rush hour relief to thousands of Boston area commuters.

Already under way, following Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s formal approval this past fall, the $42 million plan will reconstruct a section of Interstate 95/93 (Route 128) along the communities of Randolph, Canton, Westwood and Dedham — a stretch of highway that brings hundreds of thousands in and out of Metro Boston every day.

McCourt Construction Company of South Boston is the lead contractor for the project, which specifically involves the widening of I-95/93 (Route 128) from Route 24 in Randolph to just north of the East Street rotary in Dedham. The work, which also cuts through Canton and Westwood, will be done in conjunction with ongoing replacement of several bridges, including the Neponset River bridge, AMTRAK/MBTA bridge and the University Avenue bridge.

The work, scheduled for completion in summer 2011, will increase traffic capacity by adding a new travel lane within the current median corridor. It is designed by Gannett Fleming, using metric designation and measure, and will be constructed the same way.

“The widening of this section of highway from six to eight lanes will improve traffic flow on this heavily traveled route,” said MassHighway Commissioner Luisa Paiewonsky.

The job also includes a new and environment-friendly drainage system, cast-in-place concrete retaining walls, new concrete median barrier and steel guardrail, a mile-long sound barrier, new traffic signage, pavement rehabilitation, landscaping and alterations to existing bridge structures.

McCourt has extensive experience in roadwork reconstruction; however, the Route 128 widening project presents some unique obstacles. The highway is a major artery serving the greater Boston area; therefore, lane closures are severally restricted during the day. Furthermore, safety concerns are a top priority when working alongside hundreds of thousands of vehicles speeding by McCourt employees and subcontractors at highway speeds.

McCourt plans to work both day and night shifts throughout the course of the project. To minimize traffic disruptions on this extremely busy highway, daytime activities will include work off the road in the median and along the shoulder, while most of the work in the existing travel lanes will be done at night.

As the project limits incorporate 6 mi. (9.6 km) of highway, McCourt has elected to use a GPS system to establish construction survey control and layout. CAD data uploaded and integrated with Total Station and GPS systems provides layout information to the field forces. Conversely, downloading from these systems to CAD handles all McCourt’s as-built requirements.

As construction operations peak next year, McCourt expects to have more than 60 people working on the project, including craft workers and supervisory personnel. McCourt, a union contractor, will employ laborers from Locals 138, 223 and 721 in manning the project. Carpenters will be furnished through Local 535. In addition, operating engineers from Local 4 will be at the controls of McCourt’s extensive fleet of construction equipment.

Equipment planned for use on the project includes Komatsu PC400LC, two Caterpillar 330BLs, Komatsu PC250 and Komatsu PC138USLC zero tail-swing excavators; a Daewoo 220WV rubber-tire excavator; a Cat 980H, Daewoo Mega400V, Volvo L90 and Cat IT 28 front-end loaders; Cat D6R LGP, Cat D5M XL and Komatsu D31E dozers; several Case 590SLs and John Deere 410Gs backhoes; a Link-Belt RTC 8065 rough terrain-crane; a XL5200 track-mounted Gradall; along with numerous support equipment.

According to Assistant Project Manager Matt McCourt, his company has implemented an extensive “diesel retrofit” program on its entire fleet of equipment. As such, all equipment assigned to this project will be “green,” thereby complying with MassHighway’s contractual requirements to install oxidation catalysts or particulate filters on the exhaust side of diesel combustion equipment in an effort to control emissions.

Currently, McCourt has two crews working through the winter months and has constructed two of the nine detention ponds required. Seven additional water quality structures have yet to be built. The estimated excavation quantity for the job is more than 70,000 cu. yds. (53,000 cu m). Work on drain lines, manholes and catch basins have begun. A total of 371 new drain structures and more than 31,000 linear ft. (9,500 m) of RCP pipe will be installed before this project is complete.

Another activity McCourt has elected to front-load is the installation of drilled shaft foundations for the 20-ft. (6.1 m) high sound wall. A total of 337 drilled shaft foundations will be installed by the drilling subcontractor, Raito, along a 1-mi. (1.6 km) section of Route 128 northbound in Dedham and Westwood near Vincent Road.

Each shaft is 36 in. (91.4 cm) in diameter and varies in depth from 11 to 14 ft. (3.3 to 4.3 m). The sound wall itself is an absorptive design consisting of composite panels made up of a precast concrete core sandwiched between rubberized outer layers. These panels will be supported by 337 structural steel columns that, in total, weigh 331,000 lbs. (150,139 kg). Concrete Systems of Hudson, N.H., will fabricate the panels. The company also is furnishing the drain structures and 22,800 linear ft. (6,949 m) of new median barrier for the project.

Motorists will see significant construction begin in spring 2009.

Additional McCourt crews will be added and work will include continuation of the drainage and roadway excavation in the median. Also scheduled to start in the median is the construction of 1,800 ft. (548.6 m) of concrete retaining wall separating the grade differences between the northbound and southbound traffic lanes.

Other concrete work includes two smaller retaining walls in the shoulder area and expanding a bridge structure that carries Route 128 over the Blue Hill River.

The total concrete work is estimated at 4,300 cu. yds. (3,287 cu m). Subcontractor G&C Concrete Construction will perform the concrete formwork. Regis Steel Corp, another McCourt subcontractor, will install approximately 447,600 lbs. (203,028 kg) of rebar.

As supplemental work and barrier installation is completed in the median, full-depth paving construction on the additional travel lane will take place along with milling and overlaying the existing road surface. In all, 135,000 tons (122,470 t) of bituminous concrete will be installed.

Other major subcontractors on this job include Aggregate Industries and Wildeca Corp. for paving work; Cosco for guardrail; MON Landscaping for all the plantings and seeding, and Roadsafe Traffic Systems for sign installation and striping.

McCourt’s project manager overseeing the job is Paul Buco. Additional personnel assigned to the project include Kevin Cleary, general superintendent; Rob Horne, superintendent; Steve Carlstrom, superintendent; Paul McHugh, chief surveyor; Herb Green, senior project engineer; Trevor McCourt, project engineer; Josh Palen, safety representative; and Matthew McCourt, assistant project manager.

Oversight at MassHighway is spearheaded by Girard Allien, resident engineer, and Brian McKenny, area engineer.

McCourt Construction has taken on projects from California to London, and from Canada to the Caribbean. It has been in business for approximately 115 years and is the oldest family-run construction company in New England. McCourt also is among the largest performers of public works projects in the Northeast. In recent years, the company has built or rebuilt highways, runways, tunnels, bridges, utility systems and parks. The company has been the winner of six of the past seven Mass Port Authority “Contractor of the Year” awards. CEG

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