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Pine Needles Project in Florence County Going Strong

Mon December 27, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Peter Hildebrandt

In Florence County, S.C., a widening project has been taking place on Pine Needles Road (S-577) from Southborough Road to Ebenezer Road. The road widening project came about when the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) decided to build a new overpass bridge right beside the old one, crossing east to west over the top of U.S. I-95, the north-south highway artery in this region. The road widening work is being done to the west and east of that new bridge along a half mile of road and takes the road from two lanes to four, with five lanes at its widest.

“Actually what we’ve been doing is widening the road right along with the construction of the new overpass bridge,” said Jamie Poston, resident construction engineer with SCDOT. “We built the bridge, moved the traffic over onto the new bridge and now we’re tearing the old bridge out and adding the underpass stage.”

The project was started in 2008. The bridge’s substructure was completed and the new bridge built. All the work on the road widening is scheduled to be completed at the end of October, 2011, which is consistent with the original schedule.

The project was given a setback with the loss of a head contractor on the highway project. SCDOT originally awarded this project to Weaver Construction Inc.; however, Weaver Construction was unable to complete the contract.

There was about a four-month gap between the time Weaver Construction left and the bonding company (Safeco Insurance Company) got another contractor to take over. The bonding company located a contractor to come and take care of any erosion control, traffic control or sediment control issues during the process of trying to find someone to take over the project.

Losing a main contractor can prove to be a major headache, but for the work on the Pine Needles project, the only major hassle from SCDOT’s point of view was the loss of some four months in the planned time before completion of the project. There were really no major nuisances, according to Chris Coleman, assistant resident construction engineer with SCDOT.

“All the headaches were actually for the bonding company,” said Coleman. “It was their responsibility to keep the ball moving and keep the project in compliance as far as traffic control and DHEC erosion control issues.”

The bonding company had to rebid the project. According to Poston, SCDOT still pays the bonding company whatever the contract price is worth. The bonding company then pays C. R. Jackson Inc., the new contractor who won the bid.

“What we were worried about was the time. But the bonding company and the new contractor that came on to the project both jumped on it and we’re on schedule and it looks like we’re going to be fine. Fortunately everything with this happened at the time of the year when you don’t get much work done anyway. From around December to March you usually don’t see as much progress, and that’s about when this happened. The bonding company got it rebid in March 2010 and we started back up in April of that same year, so everything fit with the timing,” said Poston.

This area of South Carolina is one with a lot of streams and rivers which can also be polluted by sediment fairly easily. But since there also was already a two-lane road in place at the site, all that stretch needed was simply to have a widening of the existing two lanes into four lanes. The South Carolina Department of Transportation purchased approximately another 60 ft. (18.3 m) of right-of-way in order to complete this work.

The project also involved the removal of two homes from the area. These aren’t issues that SCDOT typically handles. By the time the project reaches SCDOT, it’s pretty much ready to be built, according to Coleman.

“We have some problems with utilities from time to time.” said Coleman. “It’s only a conflict in that they are simply trying to keep electricity customers up and running at the same time they’re trying to move the utility; it poses problems at times.”

Weather has not been that much of a factor on the job. In the beginning phases in 2009, the winter was fairly wet. In 2010 there were some snow days too.

“The way the erosion control was set up, we would get some standing water. We had controls on how the water flowed but because we were in a neighborhood, sometimes it took longer to flow out of resident’s yards. People would complain about that, but in a day or two the water would be gone. It was more of an inconvenience than anything else,” Coleman said.

SCDOT typically has three to four of their people doing the inspections on the site. On the dirt work they had two separate contractors, one doing the earthwork and one doing the bridge. Totaling all the different contractors and inspectors with SCDOT on the job, the usual number of people involved in the work on any given day is approximately 100 employees. C.R. Jackson has been involved with the dirt work. They’ve used a variety of equipment, most of which are tracked equipment, such as dozers and tracked hoes. But they also have front end loaders that are rubber-tired.

Major equipment involved on the project includes track hoes, backhoes, pavers, rollers, motorgraders, cranes, digger trucks, and hydro seeders. This equipment is owned by C.R. Jackson and subcontractors.

The cranes on the job had all the needed regulations on them.

“They pretty much run like clockwork; we didn’t have any issues with them. Everything involved with them was kept very much up to date,” Coleman said.

The vehicles involved with transporting the cranes were flatbed 18 wheelers, and Lo-Boy; all of the cranes involved were tracked. Right now HRI/Eastern Bridge is using a Terex/American Crane model HL 80, and has a maximum capacity of 80 tons. The crane used for the Phase 1 setting of the 40 ft. (12 m) Type IV Girders was a Terex American HC-80 with a 100-ft. (30.5 m) boom length on Phase One Span A. For Phase One Span D a LinkBelt crane, model ATC-3130 with an 86-ft. (26.7 m) boom length was utilized.

The cranes are used for setting beams, picking up rebar, concrete buckets and generators, driving steel H-Pile and removing the old bridge sections. These particular model cranes were chosen mainly because they were what the contractor had available and they were big enough to handle the requirements of this job. They came from the contractor’s main yard.

There are approximately 20,000 linear ft. (6,096 m) of various size pipes, 14,000 linear ft. (4,267 m) curb and gutter, 200 prefab boxes, 27,000 tons (24,493 t) asphalt, 170,000 cu. yds. (129,974 cu m) of borrow, 11,000 ft. (3,352 m) of sidewalk and driveways, 700 tons (635 t) riprap, 4,000 linear ft. (1,219 m) steel beam guardrail, 40,000 sq. yd. (33,445 sq m) of macadam base, 150,000 linear ft. (45,720 m) temporary paint, 150,000 linear ft. (45,720 m) thermoplastic paint, two signalized intersections, 1,000 sq. yds. (836 sq m) of permanent vegetation and other assorted material to construct a 272 linear ft. (82.9 m) bridge.

SCDOT was involved in project management, testing and inspection on the site. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened on this job so far, according to Coleman.

Subcontractors on the job have included: PSI, Southern Concrete and Construction, Kirven Landscaping LLC, 1 Stop Lighting, Vibra-Tech, Construction Support Services, Flippen Contractors Inc., Stay Alert Safety Services, Evergreen Landscaping LLC, Heritage Hauling Inc., Carolina Pavement Markings, Herndon Inc., Curtain Trucking & Drainage, JBK Trucking, Sloan Construction- Eastern Bridge (Sloan-Eastern Bridge was bought out by HRI), Lee & Sims Drilling Services Inc., Penhall Company, Hiatt & Mason Enterprises Inc., Sanitary Plumbing Contractors Inc., Reynolds Fence & Guardrail, Willis Construction Inc. and Verlington Concrete.

The funds for the work have come from the One-Cent Capital Project Sales Tax that Florence County residents voted for in 2006. The penny tax went into effect in May 2007 and can last up to seven years, though it will end earlier if the sales tax amount is collected before the end of those seven years, or if all of the projects are completed before that time. The projects are scattered over the whole county, across a wide area.

State Infrastructure Bank funds of $250 million also have been combined with the one cent tax. This project is the first priority of six major road improvements in Florence County. This project is being completed at a cost of $10.5 million dollars and involves some 26.33 acres (10.7 ha) of land.

The one-cent sales tax is estimated to generate $148 million over the seven years, which when combined with a grant from the State Infrastructure Bank will yield $398 million for the six road projects. CEG

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