On the Boulevard: E.V. Williams Adds Girth to Hectic Highway

Thu February 12, 2009 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni



E.V. Williams Inc. is well known in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area. No matter what city you are visiting, if there is road construction occurring, you are likely to see the company’s name on the equipment. In addition to work on Interstate 64 in Chesapeake and on Birdneck Road in Virginia Beach, and too many other projects to mention here, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has awarded E.V. Williams a contract to widen Warwick Boulevard in Newport News.

Virginia Beach-based E.V. Williams has been working on its portion of the Warwick Boulevard widening project since December 2007. According to Brian Evans, project manager for E.V. Williams, they are working on Phase III of the project, which has a budget of $17 million; however, parts of Phase I are still under construction. “Phase I and Phase III are ongoing at the same time,” said Evans. “There are a few things we’re trying to finish up on Phase I.”

The project involves widening Warwick Boulevard from four lanes to six lanes, three lanes in each direction, for 1.75 mi. (2.8 km) from J. Clyde Morris Boulevard to Nettles Drive. E.V. Williams is self-performing storm sewer drainage work and the aggregate subbase road work. Work that is being performed by subcontractors includes paving, miscellaneous concrete work, like sidewalk, curb and gutter installation and electrical work, which involves upgrading and installing traffic signals and lighting. Subcontractors also are completing landscaping, pedestrian crosswalks, and median and drainage improvements.

Due to poor soil conditions, the contractor is placing geotextile fabric and, in some places, geogrid under the roadway’s stone based material.

“It is a stabilization product; it stabilizes the subgrade if you have poor materials,” explained Evans. “It is used in certain areas — localized areas — where fabric wouldn’t be adequate.”

ACF Environmental supplied the geogrid materials manufactured by Tensar International Corporation. According to Thomas Druhot, Peninsula Area construction engineer of VDOT, “The use of the geogrid in this district is new for VDOT.”

Most of the work occurring right now is located north of Nettles Drive in preparation for asphalt pavement. There is an upcoming traffic switch that will open new areas of construction. As traffic is moved, any underground utilities that were not completed in previous VDOT contracts will be finished.

E.V. Williams has plenty of equipment onsite being used for a variety of tasks. Performing storm sewer drainage work and placing concrete pipe, the company has two John Deere 330C LC excavators, a John Deere 270C LC track excavator, a Volvo L700 wheel loader and a Cat D3G XL dozer. For the roadwork, a Cat 12H motorgrader and an Ingersoll Rand SD70 roller are on hand. Additional pieces of the company’s fleet being used on the project are a John Deere 710G backhoe loader and a Cat M316C wheeled excavator.

VDOT and the city of Newport News worked together to design the project, which came about as a result of a projected increase in traffic on Warwick Boulevard from the present 47,000 vehicles per day to 54,000 vehicles by 2026. The busiest intersection, Warwick and J. Clyde Morris Boulevards, is extremely congested during rush hours and is most in need of improvement. Another goal of the project was to increase safety in the areas around Christopher Newport University.

Pedestrian and student safety is of utmost importance. Plenty of emphasis has been placed on maintaining sidewalks and ensuring clear and unimpeded access to crosswalks.

“We talked about safety on the job,” Evans explained. “VDOT’s first priority is [to minimize] inconvenience to the public.”

The contractor also takes advantage of when the college students are on breaks, like winter and spring break, when it has the opportunity to perform certain work without additional pedestrian traffic.

Accommodating the public requires the contractor to work all hours. VDOT, the city of Newport News, and E.V. Williams want to keep two lanes of traffic open in each direction during the day. Most major work, requiring lane closures, is scheduled during evening hours between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Some paving has occurred at night as well as storm sewer utility work.

“Any work that crosses the Boulevard,” stated Evans, “is done at night.”

Williams’ contract is the last portion to be completed of the entire Warwick Boulevard widening project. It is almost 50 percent complete, and it is on budget and on time for a November 2009 finish date. CEG