No Traffic to Dodge at I-69 Site in Mississippi

Fri April 28, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Maybelle G. Cagle

The only traffic the crew working on the first section of I-69 in north Mississippi has to worry about is its own machinery.

APAC-Tennessee is in the midst of constructing a new $53.8-million stretch of highway in the 17 mi. (27 km) between U.S. 61 and I-55 in Tunica and Desoto counties.

“It’s a major project for the state and it’s a nice project for us as well,” said Nick Haynes, president of APAC-Tennessee. “It provides opportunities for new construction and you don’t see many of those. It’s wide open with no existing traffic.”

Without cars zooming through the job site, “you don’t have the workforce in danger.”

The project doesn’t have a lot of orange barrels used in most construction projects to control traffic. But, Haynes said, some are necessary to control construction traffic.

APAC’s contract includes the road base, pavement, signing, lighting and striping.

The contractor began its work a year ago and completion is scheduled for November.

“So far, so good,” Haynes said.

This contract will create a portion of a 1,600-mi. (2,575 km) highway that will connect the Canadian border in Michigan to the Mexican border in Texas. It will cross the mid-section of the country though Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Currently, the only completed section connects Port Huron, MI, to Indianapolis.

“The I-69 project will be a tremendous economic development asset to the state of Mississippi,” said Northern District Commissioner Bill Minor. “Part of the I-69 project will come across the Delta, Marshall, Tunica and DeSoto counties. A lot of industry is expected in the Delta and this project will definitely aid in the economic development of the Delta.”

Between 80 and 110 personnel work 10 to 13 hours a day on an average day. They work 11 days on and three days off.

“Right now, we’re paving day and night,” said Haynes.

He estimated that 600,000 sq. yds. (502,000 sq m) of concrete pavement and 250,000 tons (227,000 t) of asphalt paving will be used in the project.

Approximately 5.1 million cu. yds. (3.9 million cu m) of dirt was moved and another 3 million cu. yds. (2.3 million cu m) of borrow was used.

The asphalt comes from two plants. APAC on President’s Island in Memphis, provides the asphalt under the contract. The asphalt on the shoulders of the road comes from the Lehman-Roberts asphalt plant in Robinsonville, which is close to the job.

“The concrete comes from a plant we set up on site,” Haynes said.

When APAC-Tennessee began its project, some bridges had already been constructed. “There were 35 bridges already constructed on the current APAC-Tennessee project. There were 25 grade separation structures and 10 hydraulic crossings,” said Mitch Turner, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) assistant district construction engineer.

Concrete paving equipment on the job includes a Gomaco GHP2800 concrete paver, a Gomaco PS2600 concrete placer/spreader, a Gomaco RTP500 rubber-tracked placer/spreader, and an Erie Strayer concrete central mix plant.

Asphalt paving equipment on the job includes a Roadtec SB25 local transfer device, a Roadtec RP195 rubber-tracked paver and a Sakai SW350 vibratory steel wheel roller.

For soil stabilization, APAC-Tennessee is using a Caterpillar RM250C roto-mixer and a Caterpillar 140G, motorgrader.

A dozen subcontractors are working on the job, including Talbot Brothers Construction Co. Inc. in Nesbit, MS, which is doing the bridge approach slabs.

APAC-Tennessee is providing a five-year maintained pavement warranty on its work.

“Experience tells us we can do that. We intensify our quality control and bring our vast experience and expertise to the job,” Haynes said.

Mississippi was among the first states to do pavement warranty and it has paid off, said Randy Battey, an MDOT research engineer.

Haynes said his company will maintain the concrete paving surface of the roadway and check it annually.

“We will make sure there is nothing that significantly affects traffic,” he added.

MDOT’s pavement recommendation committee determines whether a project is suited for warranty.

The state will soon have approximately a dozen warranty projects, both in pavement and asphalt. It costs approximately 12 percent more for warranty projects, but the quality in the job, is worth it, Battey said.

A major advantage of pavement warranty is “only confident contractors” usually bid on the warranty project, because they are confident they can provide a good project, Battey said. CEG