The Interstate 81 Maury River Bridge Project in Rockbridge County, VA, is substantially complete and, as a result, the contractor will receive an early completion incentive bonus for finishing ahead of schedule.
Orders Construction Company Inc. based in Saint Albans, WV, is the prime contractor on the $17.7-million contract, which involves replacing the northbound and southbound bridges on I-81 over the Maury River with three-lane bridges. The new bridges will actually contain two travel lanes and a full shoulder and will be constructed of concrete with steel girders. The contract also included replacing the bridge approaches in each direction along the 15-mi. (24 km) construction zone.
Each bridge measures approximately 710 ft. (215 m) long. The width, according to Project Manager George Hayward of the Dulles, VA-based Alpha Corp., Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) project manager of the job, is 60 ft. (18 m) from base of parapet wall to base of parapet wall.
“There will be plenty of room for expansion if and when it comes,” Hayward said.
Orders has its fleet of Link-Belt cranes (80-, 100- and 150-ton) on the job site for use at various times. Subcontractor Central Contracting, also based in St. Albans, WV, subbed out the blasting work to Mt. State Bit Service Inc. of Morgantown, WV, which is considered a second tier subcontractor.
During the rock blasting, workers had to clear the work zone for 15 minutes each day at 1 pm. Then they had to set the shot and make sure all were detonated. Before releasing traffic, the area was checked to make sure everything was clear.
An Atlas Copco rock drill was used during the initial stages of construction. Also on hand were Komatsu 300, 400 and 750 excavators and a Volvo dump truck to haul away the shot rock. Planned excavation was approximately 325,000 cu. yds. (250,000 cu m).
The old bridges had two 12-ft. (3.6 m) lanes with narrow shoulders. According to Jimmy White, resident engineer of VDOT in Lexington, VA, “The two-lane bridges were built early in the interstate program [in 1966].” Studies conducted in the late 1990s concluded that the bridges should have three lanes in order to safely handle present traffic as well as increased traffic in the future.
White reiterated, “Many of our interstate bridges have full shoulders.”
Other issues that prompted the replacement of the bridges were the age of the bridges and the number of maintenance problems. Additionally, since the old bridges were narrow, some drivers felt constrained when traffic became heavy. As a result, drivers would panic and slow down, an action that sometimes caused accidents.
Contractors began work on the project in March 2004 and aimed for a completion date of December 2006. However, some had their sights set higher, and now the contractor is looking at an incentive bonus.
Hayward confirmed, “The project achieved substantial completion as of July 7, 2006. This entitles the contractor to an early completion incentive of $438,800 and establishes a new final completion date of Nov. 15.
The project may even be completed before then, Hayward said.
So far, both bridges are completed and the old northbound bridge has been demolished. Orders has started demolition of the old southbound bridge, which should be finished by September. Subcontractor Adams Construction Co. of Roanoke, VA, has completed its final pavement work.
“Traffic is in its final location with all pavement markings in place,” concluded Hayward. CEG
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