Dan’s Excavating and subcontractors will replace about 24 mi. of pavement on I-275.
(Michigan Department of Transportation photo)
I-275 is a major thoroughfare that skirts the western edge of Detroit and serves as a major north-south corridor for traffic flowing from Ohio to Metro Detroit and beyond. Several segments of the road are in their death throes. Pounded by heavy truck traffic and brutalized by the freeze-thaw issues, the road required frequent patching and pothole repairs.
When state funding became available for infrastructure work, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) sprang into action, initiating a project to fix the road over a four-year period. At a cost of $266 million, the freeway will be repaired from Will Carlton Road to Eureka Road and rebuilt from Eureka Road to 6 Mile Road, a distance of 24 mi. The project was launched last summer.
"The concrete pavement was 40 years old and blowing up," said Jeff Horne, construction contracts project manager of MDOT. "The road was eating up our maintenance budget with a continued need for patching and pothole repair. Since more than 190,000 vehicles per day are using this highway, repairs caused increased congestion as well as unhappy motorists. We want a rebuilt road that will last."
The highway was one of the last continuously reinforced concrete roads in the state. More than 40 subcontractors are required for the job, with Dan's Excavating serving as the prime contractor.
Green construction practices were important on this project.
"The old concrete roadway was crushed on-site and mixed with cement and water to form a Cement Treated Permeable Base [CPTB] layer," said Horne. "Our cross-section of the new freeway is 10 inches of natural aggregate; 6 inches of CTPB; and 12 inches of nonreinforced concrete."
The enormous project will require enough concrete to build a 12-ft.-wide highway lane from Detroit to Grand Rapids (approximately 174 mi.). Concrete pavement and cement treated base will be constructed by AJAX Paving Industries.
Last year's work consisted mainly of patching and rehabbing 10 mi. of roadway, along with preparing 14 mi. of roadway to get ready for this year's work. This effort included widening and resurfacing shoulders and building crossovers to facilitate traffic during stage construction.
John Morse, project manager, and the team at Dan's Excavating worked with MDOT to finalize a plan for rerouting all traffic to the northbound lanes for this year's work. This enabled workers to push the project ahead with fewer interruptions and with greater safety for both workers and motorists.
This new arrangement achieved many efficiencies for workers and planners on the project.
"Our team was able to use the 14 crossover ramps on this section of the project to get our trucks in and out of the job more quickly," said Morse.
The plan is for the work this year to complete the rebuild for 14 mi. southbound, then switch traffic over onto the fresh pavement next year. Morse hopes that his team will be able to complete the work on the northbound section in 2023.
C.A. Hull, a large bridge builder, will handle work on 65 bridges that are part of the project.
"The bridges have required a variety of work, including grinding down epoxy layers that were failing and providing new epoxy," said Morse. "The epoxy keeps moisture out of the bridge structure and provides a more long-lasting bridge. Hull has also worked to repair the foundations of many of the bridges. Many of them were in a sorry state."
The excavation and rebuilding will require enormous work and raw materials. In brief:
- 1.2 million cu. yds. of excavation
- 1 million sq. yds. of 12-in. concrete pavement for the road
- 1.2 million sq. yds. of open-graded drainage course
- 1.2 million sq. yds. of cement treated drainage course
"I am familiar with the road since I drive it frequently for bidding and overseeing our projects in the area," said Morse. "Motorists are going to see a big difference once this project is completed."
Equipment used on the project includes:
- Cat 390, 374, 349 and 320 excavators
- Cat 740 water trucks
- Cat D6 dozers
- John Deere 750 dozers
- Komatsu WA320 wheel loaders
- GOMACO GP 2600 slipform pavers
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