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New York State Thruway Concrete Experiment Pays Off

An experiment Paves Off in the Empire State.

Wed November 20, 2013 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The new concrete overlay is part of a test section on Interstate 90. A GHP-2800 is slipforming the overlay on top of existing asphalt.
The new concrete overlay is part of a test section on Interstate 90. A GHP-2800 is slipforming the overlay on top of existing asphalt.
The new concrete overlay is part of a test section on Interstate 90. A GHP-2800 is slipforming the overlay on top of existing asphalt. Surianello Concrete is using a Leica 3D stringless guidance system on the Gomaco GHP-2800 four-track paver. The GHP-2800 was equipped with an IDBI to place the dowel bars for the transverse joints into the new pavement. A Gomaco T/C-600 texture/cure machine followed the paver and applied a longitudinal tine and white spray cure.

The New York State Thruway wanted to experiment with unbonded concrete overlays. They chose a five mi. (8 km), four-lane section of Interstate 90 near Hamburg as their test section. Surianello General Concrete, based out of Buffalo, N.Y., won the bid to pave the 9 in. (229 mm) thick concrete overlay.

The age and the design of the original roadway created a paving challenge right from the start. It was built in the 1950s and didn’t conform to current geometry requirements for superhighways.

“They built it with a standard crown section going through all horizontal curves. No super elevations,” Frank Surianello, president of Surianello General Concrete, explained. “Now, to conform to Federal Highway Administration guidelines for superhighways, you have to adjust and make your transition from normal crown to full bank horizontal curves. The depth of the blacktop underlayment at these locations varied from 1.5 to 7.5 in. (38 to 19.1 cm). Anchoring traditional baskets would be a challenge.

“Since this was an overlay, the next issue was setting string. You’d have to pre-drill the holes for the stakes and spend a lot of time and effort anchoring them. Plus, stringline basically holds the job hostage because your access is very limited.”

The American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) was involved throughout the design and implementation phases of the project. Surianello, who is currently the 2013 chairman of the ACPA, and his company worked together closely with the association on the Interstate 90 overlay.

The answer to both the transverse joint and stringline challenge for Surianello General Concrete was a Gomaco four-track GHP-2800 equipped with a new independent IDBI attachment and a Leica Geosystems 3D stringless guidance system to control the paver. Both the 3D and IDBI systems were completely new to the company. Before they took their new paver out on a project, they wanted to do training and a test pour at their headquarters. Gomaco sent members of their 3D team, service department, and an instructor from Gomaco University to provide hands-on training.

“We did a 150 feet test pour at our facilities in Buffalo where we trained our operators on the dowel bar inserter and the stringless,” Surianello said. “The hands-on experience allowed us to get our ducks in a row so when we mobilized for the actual project, everyone knew their job and we could hit the ground running.”

With training completed and the crew confident in their abilities, Surianello moved its GHP-2800 on site and began paving the overlay project on Interstate 90. Concrete was supplied by its own central mix batch plant batching 9 cu. yd. (6.9 cu m). Tri-axle dump trucks carried the concrete to the paver on the existing road and dumped directly onto it in front of the paver. Tight conditions on the project didn’t allow much room for haul roads or a placer/spreader.

The GHP-2800 paved 25 ft. (7.6 m) wide and 9 in. thick. Every 15 ft. (4.6 m) the Gomaco IDBI was placing 25 dowel bars for the pavement’s transverse joint. Each bar was 1.5 in. (38 mm) in diameter, 18 in. (457 mm) long, and placed at a 12 in. (305 mm) center spacing across the width of the slab.

“We had 1000 joints on the project and we did not find one bar that was out of place,” Surianello said. “The Gomaco service representative did a great job setting up the paver and my guys really got tuned into it.”

The Leica 3D system also worked well for the stringless rookies. Surianello teamed up with a local surveying company to build their paving models.

“They surveyed the existing blacktop and built the models to maximize efficiencies for depth,” Surianello explained. “The company, Innovative GPS Solutions LLC, actually went through Gomaco University’s stringless class and they did a very good job building our models for us.”

Real-time pavement smoothness behind the GHP-2800 was monitored by two paver-mounted GSI (Gomaco Smoothness Indicator) units. The state of New York uses the two-tenths blanking band to monitor the smoothness of its new roads.

“It’s a California-type profilograph, two-tenths blanking band, five inches per mile (79 mm/km), so it’s pretty lenient,” Surianello said. “When we profilographed this project, we were getting readings of zero, or 0.1 inch (2 mm). The readings were so good that I was skeptical, so I asked another contractor to bring out their lightweight profiler and see what kind of numbers it read. We were getting in the 70s on the IRI, with readings as low as 30.

“We really found some interesting things using the GSI and getting real-time smoothness numbers and what affects the smoothness coming out the back of that paver. It was just incredible.”

Surianello’s paving production averaged around 2600 ft. (792 m) per day, or between 6 to 8 ft. (1.8 to 2.4 m) per minute. The GSI showed them they were reaching maximum smoothness results at that speed with the concrete paving mix they were using.

A new Gomaco T/C-600 texture/cure machine followed the GHP-2800 applying a longitudinal tine and white spray cure. Wheels attached to the T/C-600’s sensors allowed steering and grade control off the new slab on the stringless project.

“We were excited about this new paver and it really was a celebratory thing for our company,” Surianello said. “It has worked out well for us. We had 15 headers on the project and they came out perfect. We didn’t have to grind one square foot anywhere on the job.”

It’s too early yet for the Thruway Authority to have any results on the success of the concrete overlay test. One thing that has been determined though, is how smooth the new overlay is.

“I’ve had some industry feedback stating straight out that this is the smoothest concrete pavement that anybody has ever ridden on in New York,” Surianello proudly said. “And these are blacktop guys saying it!”

This story was reprinted with permission from Gomaco.

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