MoDOT Carves New $44M Path Through Ozark Hills

Tue November 06, 2007 - Northeast Edition
Richard Miller



Tucked in the rough Ozark hills is Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) current two-lane Route 5 project, which winds from the city of Camdenton north to the Niangua Bridge on the Lake of the Ozarks in Camden County.

In April 2006 MoDOT awarded a $44.3 million contract to McAninch Corporation of Des Moines, Iowa, to carve a new route through the rock and earth of the Ozark hills. When completed, it will be the largest grading project in MoDOT history.

McAninch has incorporated a large arsenal of equipment to tackle this job, which is on target for completion in August 2008. At that date, McAninch’s fleet will have moved more than 7.3 million cu. yd. (5.6 million cu m) of rock and earth. In addition, the project requires the installation of numerous box culverts, two interchanges and six bridges. After this phase, an MoDOT project to place pavement will be let in September 2007.

“MoDOT’s goal is to realign and upgrade seven miles of existing Route 5 from two lanes to four lanes,” Patty Lemongelli, construction and materials engineer of MoDOT said. “Route 5 carries a lot of traffic in and out of the Lake of the Ozarks, which is one of the larger vacationing spots in Missouri.”

Before any of the excavation could start, both culverts and concrete pipe had to be installed. Five box culverts have been installed by JLA Construction of Brookline Station, Mo. Dimensions range from 10 by 9 ft. (3.1 by 2.7 m) up to 11 by 12 ft. (3.4 by 3.7 m.) and totals 4,022 ft. (1,225 m) in length. Additionally, 13,985 ft. (4,262 m) of drainage pipe were installed supplied by Cretex Concrete Products.

Bill Botkin, project superintendent of McAninch, said that the terrain was so tough that they had to use their Cat D11 crawlers to clear paths and move equipment for the drainage subcontractors.

Once excavation started, McAninch jumped in with both feet. McAninch employs dozer/scraper combinations along with an excavator/truck fleet for rock and longer haul needs as the situation requires. Scraper combination included three Cat D10s pulling 641 scraper bowls and three Cat D11s pulling 651 scrapers.

Rock excavation and longer haul requirements required a truck fleet loaded by three Caterpillar 5110 excavators. According to Botkin the excavators used either a 13 cu. yd. (9.9 cu m) bucket or two 10 cu. yd. (7.7 cu m) buckets to load the trucks. The truck fleet included twelve articulated trucks and four 777D dump trucks.

Ripping needs for rock are supplied by a Cat D9L and Cat D11. McAninch also has two Cat D7s working the fill areas equipped with Trimble GPS systems.

Having Trimble global positioning systems (GPS) installed in critical equipment allowed the operators to determine grade requirements immediately and to avoid lost time setting stakes and checking grade, Botkin stated.

Twehous Excavating Company of Jefferson City, Mo., handled the rock blasting duties and Don Schneiders Excavating Inc. also of Jefferson City, Mo., constructed the bridges.

McAninch worked double shifts to meet its deadlines.

“When the weather cooperated we were working two shifts per day giving our maintenance crews a few hours per day for refueling and maintenance,” Botkin said. “When everything is running, we can move 45,000 yd. of material per day,” Botkin said.

Botkin pointed out that the project is in the middle of a lake region where water is a valuable commodity for controlling dust and watering fill areas. As a result, McAninch had an 800 ft. (243 m) well dug. The well supplied a 12,000 gal. (45,424 L) stand for the water trucks.

The geology in the project’s path also provided for some unforeseen obstacles.

“The area is known for its karst topography and during the project an opening to what appeared to be a cave was discovered during excavation,” Lemongelli said. “The discovery warranted further exploration. Fortunately, it was determined that it was not an ’active cave.’ Accordingly, no environmental habitat or endangered species was encountered when the cave was collapsed.

“MoDOT provided additional geotechnical exploration to determine if there were more extensive voids along the right-of-way.”

Additionally, McAninch found numerous pinnacle rock formations along the right-of way.

“These rock formations rise up in locations we didn’t anticipate, giving more work to our trucks and excavators,” Lemongelli stated. “By maintaining communications with all parties we kept progressing and the obstacles at bay.” CEG