MO Job Wards Off Bats to Stay Ahead of Schedule

Tue July 05, 2005 - Midwest Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

The early stages of a road project currently under way in Missouri presented a rather unique challenge for contractors when the clearing process was delayed to accommodate the migratory bats who lived in the trees around the area. In spite of the delay, however, crews plan to have the project substantially complete one full year ahead of schedule.

The project is under the direction of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), and is part of an ongoing effort to upgrade Route 36 into a four-lane divided highway. The road spans the state of Missouri from Hannibal on the east to St. Joseph on the west, and has a current traffic load of approximately 7,500 vehicles per day.

By 2021, officials estimate that the count will be 10,370, with 17 percent being trucks. The project was planned to create significant improvements in ease of use by motorists, greatly improved safety due to widened roadbeds and enhanced sight distances, and a smoother overall pavement.

The contract for the $35-million project was awarded to Iowa-based McAninch Corporation and work began on August 1, 2004.

“Due to restrictions on clearing and grubbing due to the presence of habitat for the Indiana bat, major work did not begin until October 1, 2004,” explained Don Taylor, McAninch Corporation’s vice president of its national division. “The Indiana bat inhabits wooded areas mainly north of the Missouri River. This variety of mammal migrates south by October 1 of each year, and returns after April 1. This gives the contractor only the months from October to March in which to clear areas for excavation.”

Despite the delay, Taylor noted that McAninch Corporation was able to clear enough land after Oct. 1 to allow the construction of box culverts, bridges, and approximately 1 million cu. yds. of earthwork, and plans are for substantial completion by July 1, 2006.

The project centers around the construction of a new diamond interchange in New Cambria, MO. In addition to a new overhead bridge, the contract calls for three new bridges over existing rivers, including Old Chariton River, Brush Creek, and Mussel Fork Creek. In addition, new box culverts and extensions to existing culverts are required for the widening of the existing roadway.

Besides accommodating bats, the crew was challenged by accommodating vehicles, as well.

“The project management team has worked to simplify the staging by working with the MoDot project staff,” Taylor noted. “The job was accelerated by using a night crew on the on-road haul during the early part of the year.”

In the fall, the existing traffic pattern will be shifted onto portions of the new roadway to allow the grading to proceed on the remainder of the job.

Another component that makes this project unique is its size.

“In addition to the sheer magnitude of grading [3 million cu. yds.), the total length of new paved roadway is over 11 miles,” Taylor said. “While some of the new concrete paving is traditionally installed over a drainable sub-base, a large portion of the existing roadway is being re-incorporated into the project using an ’unbonded concrete overlay.’ This paving technique uses a thin layer of asphalt paving to create a bond breaker between the existing old pavement and the new concrete overlay. This process conserves the resource of the existing roadway, and dramatically accelerates the paving process.”

Another feature that is present in all McAninch Corporation projects is the use of GPS technology.

“Traditional grade control staking has been replaced by the use of a Trimble 5800 MAX self-contained, survey grade GPS unit,” Taylor explained. “With the on-going training for McAninch Corporation personnel, this unit has become a required tool for major projects such as this. No longer does the field foreman need to painstakingly measure distances for centerline and shoulder. Rather, the Trimble unit locates these points with accuracies to a centimeter.”

According to Taylor, McAninch Corporation’s involvement with GPS began several years before they actually began to use it.

“We knew this technology was emerging,” he explained. “At a point in time when the United States Department of Defense removed what is known as dithering or spoofing from the signal … and accurate positioning became available, we knew the time was right to enter the GPS market. We started mapping ground — getting ground elevations. From that, we rapidly morphed into machine control systems, and we sort of jumped right in on that. We’ve been right on the cutting edge of that ever since.”

Included in the GPS fleet for the Route 36 job are Trimble GCS (grade control system) 900 machine control units. These units have been fitted to Cat 385 excavators to control grade in the cut areas, Cat D6N and Cat D6R dozer tractors for grade control on slopes and fill sections, Cat D9L and 632 scrapers for use throughout the project, Cat 14H motorgraders for final subgrade control, and even the foremen pick up trucks to provide real-time management information to the on-site supervisor.

“The GPS capabilities have been used to measure progress and to update management grading plans,” Taylor noted. “A recent highlight was the use of GPS survey capabilities in profile grades to save MoDOT approximately $70,000.”

Total earthwork for the job is 3.09 million cu. yds. all of which is available on site. Storm water drainage will be carried by 15,950 linear ft. of new storm sewer and roadway culverts, and approximately 35,000 tons of rip rap are required to resist the erosion of ditches and berms on this project. McAninch Corporation is performing all of the work for the clearing and grubbing, culvert installation, rip rap, and all excavation and grading.

The total area of new concrete paving is 317,873 sq. yds., and a total of 48,829 tons of asphalt will be required to complete the paving for side roads, driveways, and temporary detours.

Besides Taylor, the McAninch Corporation management team for the project includes Doug McAninch, president and COO; Scott Hintz, general superintendent; Adam Whittington, project manager; and Bill Botkin, project superintendent.

Botkin is currently in his 37th season of highway construction, 32 of which have been with McAninch Corporation. Six additional foremen, Jim Flander, Kenny Grose, Greg Hirth, Tom Nevitt, Darold Arnold, and Pat Bentley, oversee an estimated total of 80 employees during peak periods.

Major subcontractors include: Chester Bross, concrete paving; Collins & Herman, permanent signs; Fred Carlson Company, concrete paving; United Rentals, pavement markings; APAC-Central Missouri, asphalt paving; Columbia Curb and Gutter, asphalt milling; Bleigh Construction, bridges; Hayes Drilling, pre-bored holes; Boone Construction, box culverts, horizontal boring, and jacked pipe; JLA construction, box culverts,; Hostetter Construction, underdrains; Thermo-Mark Inc., traffic control; Miller Construction, sawcuts; Pine Valley Contracting, erosion control; Superior Rail Systems, guardrail; Surveys Inc., survey layout; and P.A.T. Industrial Painting, bridge painting.

Major equipment being used includes numerous scrapers, excavators, and side dump trucks pulled by Mack and Kenworth. In addition to this production fleet, a support fleet consisting of Cat D6N, D6R, and D7R dozers, Cat 160 and 14 motorgraders, and Challenger tractors handled the processing and compaction of the soil. Rip rap work is being done by Cat 320, 325, and 330 excavators and Ct 963 and 973 track loaders.

“McAninch Corporation is completely dedicated to the use of Caterpillar equipment,” Taylor explained. “We are exclusively Caterpillar-driven. If Caterpillar makes it, we use it. We know from decades of relationship with Caterpillar what to expect out of sales, service, and product support. We get unparalleled product support and we get unparalleled parts delivery with Caterpillar.” CEG

Caption: The project centers around the construction of a new diamond interchange in New Cambria, MO, and includes three new bridges over Old Chariton River, Brush Creek and Mussel Fork Creek as well as new box culverts and extensions to existing culverts for the widening of the existing roadway.