Odebrecht Meets Shorter Target Date for Greensboro’s I-40

Wed October 02, 2002 - Southeast Edition
Cynthia W. Wright

North Carolina’s I-40, one of the region’s most important transportation arteries, has been examined for the past three years to determine how to best avoid overcrowding, improve capacity and provide an acceptable level of mobility in the state’s popular Triangle Region. Compatible with the Congestion Management Plan is the widening and refurbishing of this important route.

Enter Odebrecht Construction. Paulo Moreirabebrito, project manager, explained that this project of 4 mi. of highway improvement in Greensboro, running from Chimney Rock Road to Sandy Ridge Road — in the direction from Greensboro to Winston-Salem — was begun in March 1999. Through no fault of its own, Odebrecht is actually playing catch-up to the schedule the company was originally given.

“The state is offering us a $1-million bonus if we can finish the job earlier to achieve the new goals of this construction. They want us to match the previous project which is the stretch before ours, being handled by another contractor. This will avoid the problem of having some lanes of traffic open from the former project, while ours are not yet usable by the public,” Moreirabebrito noted.

He added, “We think we’re going to definitely make it. We have 90 direct labors working overtime in shifts, with extended hours and double shifts. We have reinforcement crews during the day performing general construction, excavation and the building of the road itself. To avoid traffic being backed up every night by having to close lanes of traffic to remove all the material that we excavate from the center, we offered DOT the option of using conveyor belts. They agreed, and we are currently transferring material from the median to a new bridge that is not yet open to traffic.”

According to Moreirabebrito, as Odebrecht works in the center where the old lanes of traffic remain, it shifts traffic to new outside lanes on both sides. This allows traffic to flow in both directions, 24 hours of each day.

The new completion date is now set for August 2003, rather than much later that year. The unforeseen obstacle appeared when construction crews removed the base of the highway. The subgrade was in such terrible condition workers were forced to dig a foot and a half below to consolidate the foundation of the highway, then build it back.

Excavators dig the material of which tons of dirt have been moved. That material is then brought to trucks by the conveyor system, spread with dozers, finished with graders, and tamped with vibratory rollers. Three lanes of traffic should be running through the project by the end of this year. Eventually, 10 lanes of highway, five lanes moving in each direction, is the attainable goal.

Eldon Burgiss, sales representative of Briggs Equipment and part of the support team, related that more than 19 pieces of heavy rental equipment are being used for this task — all performing an efficient job.

Another Briggs’ Sales Representative, Charlie Bame, is Odebrecht’s “go to” guy. “I’m the troubleshooter. The one-contact person. The person Odebrecht can count on in a pinch. We’ve had no real problems so far. Everything is working out well with the equipment. If they have any down time, we’re ’Johnny on the spot,’ there on the job whenever they need us. Odebrecht Construction is a very valuable and respected customer to our company,” he said.

Briggs Equipment is a Case and Hamm dealer. According to Bame, Odebrecht is using Case 210s, the 45,000-lb. (20,412 kg) excavators for its grade work. “Actually, they use all sizes from a 9010 up to a CX 240. They use a lot of our rollers, the Hamm roller, catch rollers. They use our 84-in. pad drums, 84 smooth drums. They’re also using 650 Case dozers, and 1150H Case dozers,” Bame noted.

“Odebrecht buys tons of small stuff from us. Target concrete saws for cutting expansion joints in the highway, water pumps, jumping jack tamps, and Partner quickie saws used for cutting steel pipe and concrete. They get JLG boom personnel lifts from us, and all the accessories from safety product lines to diamond blades and abrasive blades. We can supply all their needs,” he added.

Odebrecht and Briggs are in a partnership situation, with each company relying greatly on the other for success. With just a bit of cooperation from the weather, Odebrecht should bring this construction in under the new time deadline — a bonus for the company and travelers alike.