MoDOT Recalculates ’The Triangle’ in KC

Mon February 28, 2005 - Midwest Edition
Richard Miller

When we last saw Missouri motorists using the Triangle four years ago, they were faced with increased traffic congestion as a result of an aging infrastructure that dated back forty years.

The Triangle is the confluence of three major highways –– I-435, I-470 and US 71 –– situated on 550 acres (202 hectares) in southeast Kansas City.

Three major construction projects and four years later, this traffic “black hole” has slowly been transformed into a smooth running conduit for 250,000 motorists per day.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) awarded this first bid in 2001, with a subsequent contract award in 2002, with both now completed. The third project was a $50 million dollar contract awarded in July 2003 to APAC-Kansas Inc. of Kansas City, KS, who will handle the bridge construction while Ideker Construction Inc. of St. Joseph, MO, will handle the excavation and paving.

According the Steve Hamadi, project manager of MoDOT, “The new Triangle as a whole is being planned and built to minimize impacts on traffic. After one year of construction traffic flows began to show improvement. We utilized techniques such as pre-cast bridge deck panels to speed up construction.”

Once the Triangle is completely rebuilt in 2008 all twenty-six of the original bridges will be replaced with new spans. The current project calls for nine old bridges to be replaced with 5 new structures, including a westbound I-470 span that will stand ten stories tall.

Two of the old bridges crossed an abandoned railroad right-of-way and will not be replaced. When completed the Triangle will have seventeen new bridges totaling 1.016 million sq. ft. (94,390 sq m) of bridge deck.

According to Hamadi, bridges over existing highways required traffic detours while they were being demolished. These demolitions were performed at night when traffic was less. Detours were established on existing highways but not the local streets.

Hamadi stated that just less than one million cu. yds. (764,555 cu m) of soil and rock will be moved before this project is completed. When all five projects are completed in 2008, more than 2.6 million cu. yds. (1.99 cu m) of soil and rock will be moved. Ideker Construction Inc. utilized its fleet of Cat 631E scrapers and Volvo articulated trucks to handle the excavation requirements.

Ideker’s concrete batch plant is located on site at the intersection of US 71 and Red Bridge Road. Pavement for this project consists of 14-in. (35.6 cm) non-reinforced concrete on an 18-in. (45.7 cm) rock base. The pavement will have a life expectancy of thirty-five years.

Widened pavement will consist of 6 in. (15.2 cm) of asphalt on 10 in. (25.4 cm) of concrete on top of a four-inch (10.2 cm) base. Hamadi stated that this current project will account for twenty percent of the new pavement for the Triangle.

This project also calls for the installation of concrete sound walls. Contract specifications require that noise be reduced at least five decibels where noise exceeds 65 decibels.

In addition, 99,000 sq. ft. (9,197 sq m) of walls were installed along westbound I-470 from west of Grandview Road to west of Blue Ridge Boulevard.

MoDOT anticipates phase three construction to be completed late this summer. An $8,000 per day bonus will be paid for early completion.

Hamadi stated that the last two projects that will complete the Triangle reconstruction will be let in the spring of 2006.

In November 2004 the state’s voters approved Amendment 3 by an overwhelming margin of 79 percent to 21 percent.

This new state constitutional amendment will redirect some existing highway user fees to MoDOT. Most of the funding will come via the state’s vehicle sales tax.

Currently, half the tax goes to MoDOT and half to the state’s general revenue fund, which pays for a variety of state services. The amendment will require all vehicle sales tax to come to MoDOT.

The amendment takes effect July 1, 2005, but will be phased in over four years. By the time it’s fully in effect in 2009, it will add $180-$190 million a year to MoDOT’s budget for transportation system improvements.

The passage of the amendment also affects the Triangle’s construction. Hamadi said, “The passage assures our timeline and allows us to juggle some projects to reduce costs and improve construction sequencing. It also makes it much easier to stay on schedule.” CEG