When the Winter Olympic Games open in British Columbia in 2010, athletes and visitors will travel a spectacular 60-mi. route along Highway 99 from Horseshoe Bay to the Whistler Blackcomb Mountain Ski Area. The winding highway ascends past Howe Sound with grades up to 10 percent.
An ambitious $600 million engineering and highway reconstruction project for the Olympics route involves a consortium of engineering and construction firms, including contractor Peter Kiewit Sons Co.
“Thanks in large part to the durability and reliability of our Kenworth T800s, we expect to have most of the excavation and the related aggregate hauling work finished by the end of 2008,” said Rod Compton, equipment manager of Peter Kiewit Sons in Vancouver, B.C. That will allow us to finish the paving work by early next summer so that we can have the entire Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement Project completed on schedule by July 2009.”
Completing the project on time is critical because the XXI winter Olympic Games will begin in February of 2010. Before Vancouver, B.C., was awarded the games, the International Olympic Committee considered the highway improvements crucial to offering athletes and spectators adequate access to Olympic venues.
On the Sea-to-Sky project, Kiewit operates 16 tri-drive Kenworth T800s with extended day cabs, 10.75- by 0.375-in. (1.9 by 0.9 cm) frames with full inserts, 20,000-lb. (9,072 kg) front axles, and 58,000-lb. (26,308 kg) rear axles.
Eight of the Kenworth T800s are spec’d with 410-hp (305 kW) engines and 6-speed automatic transmissions. The other eight T800s are equipped with 550-hp (410 kW) engines and 18-speed manual transmissions so that they can be used to haul heavy trailers at different projects in British Columbia and Alberta.
“When we looked at getting trucks for this project, we considered several different models from different manufacturers,” Compton said. “We chose Kenworth T800s because they offered us greater value through a combination of quality construction, lower operating costs and higher resale values.”
This kind of customer satisfaction, combined with Kenworth’s quality vocational products, contributed to Kenworth’s reception of the 2008 J.D. Power and Associates award for “Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Vocational Segment Class 8 Trucks.”
Since the Kenworth T800s have three drive axles, they offer greater traction when climbing slick, steep grades, according to Compton. That helps keep things moving on the work sites so that Kiewit can avoid any potential costly project delays. With the Kenworth extended day cabs, Kiewit drivers receive a more comfortable work environment with more headroom, legroom and storage space.
“We find that the extra headroom offered by the extended day cabs means our drivers don’t have to take off their hard hats to drive,” Compton said. “So, we can require them to wear their hats at all times for safety.”
Before the project is completed, the 16 Kenworth T800s will haul millions of cubic yards of rock from dozens of excavation sites to portable rock crushers in the work zones, where the rock is processed into gravel and crushed rock. The Kenworth trucks also will haul the processed gravel and crushed rock from the portable rock crushers to areas where Kiewit is building new roadbeds held in place by mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) retaining walls. Once the roadbeds are laid and secured and the surface paved, vehicles will travel on pavement where there once was only air. Just one 10-mi. (16 km) section of the highway alone contains 60 such new roadbeds held in place by MSE walls.
The project also includes highway widening and straightening for improved sight lines and added passing lanes and other design innovations to reduce hazards and travel time and increase traffic capacity.
“As one of the premier contractors in North America, Kiewit takes on the more challenging highway construction projects, such as the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement project,” Compton said. “Our company did some of the same kind of work for a multi-billion dollar highway reconstruction project before the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. We also worked on several Olympic venues before the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
“We try to buy the best because we expect the most from our people and from our equipment. When we have these challenging projects, we depend on our people and on our equipment to get the job done. Kenworth trucks help us meet those challenges,” Compton added.