Parkway Expands to Keep Up With Huntsville Growth

Fri March 05, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley

Motorists traveling Memorial Parkway in Huntsville, AL, are awaiting completion of construction that will significantly speed up their daily commutes. Crews are working on a 2-mi. (3.2 km) stretch of road that connects with recently built service roads and an overpass.

“What we’re doing now is constructing parallel service roads to US 231/431 in Huntsville, which encompasses intersections of Sparkman Drive and Max Luther,” explained Johnny Harris, division engineer of the Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) First Division. “There will be bridge structures on the main line over these roads, in addition to the new roads we’re working on at the moment.

“The work is being divided into two separate phases. Phase one involves the construction of the actual service roads and will cost around $10 million when finished. Phase II will probably cost between $12 and $15 million when it’s completed,” he said.

Initial work on Phase I began in July 2002, although all has not gone according to plan.

“Our biggest challenge so far has been the relocation of utilities,” said Harris. “This was no small matter. Utility conflicts had to be resolved before we could move forward. We’re dealing with a highly urbanized area with a limited right-of-way. The placed utilities had very limited space to be relocated.

“We actually put the water and sanitary sewer lines in with the roadway contract items to facilitate coordination of those facilities. I can easily say trying to minimize these conflicts proved rather difficult.”

The Memorial Parkway project calls for, in part, 26,455 tons (24,000 t) of asphalt pavement, along with 147,710 lbs. (67, 000 kg) of steel reinforcement, 3,280 yds. (3,000 m) of steel piling and 2,297 yds. (2,100 m) of 17.7-in. (45 cm) diameter reinforced concrete pipe. An additional 1,312 yds, (1,200 m) of 23.6-in. (600 cm) diameter pipe is being used and another 1,258 yds. (1,150 m) of miscellaneous pipe.

APAC Southeast Inc. of Huntsville, is serving as the general contractor for the project, with Huntsville-based Miller & Miller Inc. handling much of the bridge work. David Lewis is the project manager.

“What we’re doing is adding two service road bridges to the main north/south Memorial Parkway, in addition to handling the retaining wall and culvert work,” explained company President Ed Miller.

“About twelve men have been assigned to this project, and the biggest problem so far has been the traffic. This is such a high-traveled area. We have bridges on both sides of the main line, so it has been difficult for our crew to get from side to side and get equipment back and forth.

“Safety is always a concern, but especially in this type of situation.You actually have to wait for the light to turn red in order to cross, which can be a bit frustrating. During peak hours in the morning and late afternoon, it’s really tough.

“Another challenge has been the foundations. They are basically pile, and it’s somewhat difficult in that they are going in excess of 90 to 100 feet maximum. There’s quite a bit of hard driving each one within a pretty short distance of the travel way,” he said.

For driving the piling, Miller & Miller is using a P&H crane with a Kobe K13 diesel power driving hammer. Crews also are using a Grove crane and a 125-ton (113.4 t) crane to set the beams.

“That’s been tough because we had to get so far back in order to work properly,” said Miller.

“One of the bridges is tapered to accommodate an additional turning lane,” explained project engineer Mark Seeley. “That’s made things a bit more difficult. It’s like building a triangular room instead of a square one in your home. It requires a lot more engineering time.”

The weather also has been a factor.

“We’ve had a lot of rain; it’s been really wet. We’re out there lots of times just slopping around in the mud. We’ve been constricted by power lines on one side, too. Plus, it’s rather crowded. We’ve had a really hard time storing delivered materials, because we’re dealing with such a tight, confined space,” Seeley said.

Materials used for this portion of the project include approximately 8,500 linear ft. (2,591 m) of 12-in. (30.5 cm) piling, another 1,200 linear ft. (365.8 m) of 14-in. (35.5 cm) piling, 1,650 cu. yds. (1,262 cu m) of assorted concrete and 2,300 linear ft. (701 m) of girders. A total of 500 cu. yds. (382 cu m) of dirt was moved for this portion of the construction, with the use of Komatsu 200-series excavators.

Crews spent about four weeks building a retaining wall, but have yet to remove the existing bridges on the main highway line.

“That will take place when we get new bridges built as soon as the traffic is routed to the new ones on the service roads,” said Seeley. “We’ll use a Komatsu 300 trackhoe with a JRB crusher mounted on it to do the demolition work. It should take about a month in total.”

Phase I of the project is expected to be completed by the end of this year.