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Mississippi Working on One of Largest Projects in Its History

Tue September 06, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Mary Reed

Although a ground-breaking ceremony to be attended by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, U.S. Congressman Alan Nunnelee, and other luminaries had not yet taken place — the event was held Aug. 11, 2011 — work had already begun on what Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert described as one of the largest design-and-build projects in the history of the state.

Construction began on July 5, 2011, at the intersection of State Route 9 with U.S. 278/State Route 6 near Pontotoc, Miss. The project, located about 13 mi. (21 km) from Tupelo in northeastern Mississippi, will ultimately connect State Route 9 to Highway 78 (the future I-22) in Sherman, 3 mi. (4.8 km) east of the new Toyota assembly plant in Blue Springs. With an expected completion date of Fall 2012, the new 10-mi. (16 km) highway will feature four lanes and limited access.

The state has committed $294 million to contribute to the cost of site preparation, infrastructure and training for the Toyota plant, which anticipates bringing 2,000 new jobs to the area. A similar number were employed during construction of the facility.

Eutaw Construction Company Inc., based in Aberdeen, Miss., was awarded the $87.5 million State Route 9 contract in May. Funding for the job is being provided by a $90 million bond issue approved by the state legislature.

The project, said Company President Thomas S. Elmore, involves, “clearing and grubbing 650 acres, moving seven million cubic yards of dirt, construction of 11 bridges and eight box culverts, laying 15,000 linear feet of pipe, and paving 170,000 tons of asphalt.”

Eutaw Construction Company’s team includes Memphis, Tenn., based design engineer Parsons Corporation. Burns Cooley Dennis Inc., which will oversee quality control; and erosion control engineer Mendrop-Wages are both located in Ridgeland, Miss. Apac Inc., headquartered in Tupelo, Miss., will carry out asphalt paving and Simmons Erosion Control Inc., of Lake, Miss., will handle grassing and paved ditches. Hall LLC, of New Albany, Miss., will construct the box culverts, and Key Constructors Inc., headquartered in Madison, Miss., is building six of the 11 bridges involved.

With a fleet valued at about $35 million, Eutaw Construction is capable of moving between 50,000 and 100,000 cu. yds. (38,227 and 76,455 cu m) of dirt per day according to conditions and the type of material being handled. In this instance a large number of its pieces of equipment will be involved.

“Equipment on the job will include 18 621B, three 627B, seven 631, and four 637 Caterpillar scrapers, seven Caterpillar 140 motorgraders, five Caterpillar D6N and two D8T dozers, eight Komatsu D65 dozers, a D275 Komatsu push dozer, and eight D9 Caterpillar push dozers,” Elmore stated.

“Five 815 Caterpillar compactors, two Caterpillar trackhoes, and eight Komatsu PC 300 trackhoes, as well as four PC Komatsu PC450 and three 350 trackhoes, will also be working on site, as well 100 ton cranes from Link-Belt, Manitowoc and Terex. In addition, we shall be utilizing ten Komatsu HM 400 trucks, and 25 highway semi trucks along with water, mechanic, fuel and lube trucks from Mack, Kenworth and International.”

In the first full month of the project, work completed included 70 percent of design, 95 percent of the job cleared and grubbed, a detour built at Endville Road, and 750,000 cu. yds. (573,416 cu m) of dirt moved. In addition, 250 acres were temporarily grassed and permanent grass added to 25 acres. Eighty percent of Phase 1 erosion control was completed along with 30 percent of Phase 2. Construction of a box culvert and four bridges began, and 1,000 linear ft. (304 m) RCB culverts were laid.

Incorporated in 1980 by Elmore, Eutaw Construction Company Inc., took its name from eutaw clay, a geological formation commonly found in northeastern Mississippi. Elmore had previously worked 15 years for Granite Construction Company of Watsonville, Calif., named after the granite rock formation in that state. As their project manager it was overseeing construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway’s Aberdeen Lock and Dam, which, as he put it, “was founded on 20 feet of Eutaw clay, two feet of Eutaw rock and endless Eutaw sand,” that brought him to the state.

For the State Route 9 project, Eutaw Construction is wasting the high volume clays and building the fill out of B-9 materials.

“Clays over a PI of 80 have to be wasted, B 9 and B 9-6 materials have a PI of under 26 and are good for fills,” Elmore noted.

Eutaw Construction was also involved in construction of the Blue Springs Tier 1 Toyota assembly plant, for which it excavated 363,000 cu. yds. (277,533 cu m) of material. It also placed 239,000 cu. yds. (182,728 cu m) of select borrow material, carried out 12,000 tons (10,886 t) of chemical stabilization, and installed approximately 3,700 linear ft. (1,127 m) of storm drain featuring 17 grate inlets.

With a timeline of 50 days, the job was safely completed in half the time.

The Mississippi Associated Builders and Contractors (MABC) honored Eutaw Construction with a merit award for its contribution to construction of the Toyota plant, and when thanking the organization Elmore praised the work of his company personnel, stating the award meant “a lot to the employees of Eutaw who performed admirably on this project.”

As a heavy and highway contractor working in all the southeastern states, Eutaw Construction’s services include site development, utilities and disaster relief cleanup. Currently working in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, past notable projects include approach work for Granite Archer Western on the Katrina-destroyed bridge carrying U.S.90 between Henderson Point and Bay St Louis on the Gulf of Mexico. Leading with 55,000 votes from the people, the company won the 2008 People’s Choice Award from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for that job. Another major project involved Severcore Steel in Columbus, Miss., where Eutaw Construction moved 7 million yards of dirt in nine months. CEG

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