With the targeted completion date more than two years away, construction crews in Macon, Ga., have begun the task of widening and reconstructing a portion of I-75 between Pierce Avenue and Arkwright Road in Bibb County.
According to general contractor Prince Contracting LLC, the project begins south of the interchange at Pierce Avenue and ends approximately a half-mile north of the interchange at Arkwright Road, a distance of approximately three-and-a-half miles (5.6 km). The improvements include the widening of I-75 from a four-lane section to a six-lane section, as well as interchange improvements, and bridge reconstructions at Pierce Avenue, Riverview Road, Sabbath Creek and Arkwright Road.
Kimberly Larson, spokesperson of the Georgia Department of Transportation, said there was a real need for the expansion.
“Increased traffic volume on that side of Bibb County was a definite concern. Also, there is a new mall and there has been an increase in industry growth, thus increasing the traffic counts. And just south of this project at I-16, we have an interchange project planned to begin in about five years,” Larson explained.
Early work has involved the installation of erosion control devices and clearing operations, with heavier construction taking place in the weeks that followed. Soil-Tek Solutions of Norcross, Ga., was brought in to contain soil sediment through the use of installed silt fences and staked hay bale check dams and temporary slope drains.
Soil-Tek began working on the project in mid-August and will provide erosion control through the duration of construction.
Soil-Tek President Chad Hammock pointed out, “Due to the lack of rainfall, the ground has been very hard. So, the main concern is the ability to drive stakes and dig ditches at the required depths to install the necessary materials. However, on the flip side, the limited rainfall has helped in controlling erosion issues.”
Crews will be using a Bobcat T250 with a trencher attachment to install the various silt fences and other material required to protect the disturbed areas of the project. Inlet sediment traps also will be put in place, along with 1,000 linear feet of temporary pipe slope drain and 14,000 linear ft. (305 m) of Type C silt fence.
Other materials include 25,000 linear ft. (7,620 m) of baled straw check dam and 7,000 linear ft. (2,133 m) of barrier fence.
“Soil-Tek Solutions is enthusiastic to provide erosion control services on this project. Given today’s economy, we are thrilled to be partnered on a project of this magnitude, and once it is completed, the improved traffic control should positively impact the local economy,” Hammock said.
The $54 million widening and reconstruction of I-75/SR 401 from Pierce Avenue to Arkwright Drive is a 30-month interstate improvement project. As part of the construction effort, the general contractor will build seven bridges and install video detection systems at intersections, according to Senior Project Engineer Matthew Schumacher, Prince Contracting, a civil construction company that specializes in highway and bridge construction and site development projects, headquartered in Tampa, with offices throughout Florida and Georgia.
Schumacher explained, “Some of the more major items we will be performing are moving all the earth, building the new roadways, except asphalt or concrete pavement and bridges. Our biggest challenges include building seven new bridges and constructing new MSE wall from the beginning of the project to Pierce, next to an environmentally sensitive area. The staging/phasing of the project is also a key task, as is raising the grade of the existing roadway five to 10 feet at and around the Pierce exit.”
Crews will be using a number of 75 to 150 ton (68 to 136 t) cranes to construct bridges, as well as CAT 325, 330 and 345 backhoes and onroad trucks to move dirt. Cat D3, D5, and D6 dozers also will be utilized, along with a Cat 12H grader.
Approximately 160,000 tons (145,149 t) of graded aggregate base will be used for the base, along with roughly 20,000 cu. yds., (15,291 cu m) of concrete for bridges and flatwork.
Other materials include more than two million pounds of rebar for bridges, 22,000 linear ft. (6,705 m) of temporary barrier wall, about 69,000 sq. ft. (6,410 sq m) of new MSE wall, 15,500 linear ft. (4,724 m) of new storm drainage, more than 200 new storm drain structures, 40,000 sq. yds. (33,445 sq m) of new 12-in. (30.5 cm) concrete pavement and more than 218,000 tons (197,766 t) of new asphalt.
Primary daytime shifts will mean an average workforce of 40 to 60 Prince employees, plus subcontractors, while the nighttime workforce will be periodic, with about 10 to 20 Prince employees, in addition to subs.
Schumacher added, “So far the weather has been great, but we are fast approaching the winter/rain months, which will produce some demanding conditions.”
There are no traffic detours set up for the project, which is phased so there will always be two lanes of traffic open in each direction, outside of nighttime or weekend lane closures. The stage does not call for any ramp closures, with final alignment calling for three lanes in each direction between Pierce and Arkwright.
“We have been able to do some temporary traffic shifts which have allowed us to install the temp barrier wall and get started south of Pierce to construct the new box culverts so we can construct the MSE wall. We have installed temp barrier wall at Arkwright and Sabbath Creek and have started bridge work at these locations. We have the majority of the project cleared and erosion control in place, although we still have the majority of the project in front of us,” Schumacher said.
“What’s tricky will be the overall staging in building new lanes on the inside and outside of the project during this first stage, and the coordinating that work along with the bridges to shift traffic. Coordination of the various subs whose work all ties together will also be challenging.”
Coleman Webb LLC, Juliette, Ga., will be performing the bridge demolition for all the existing bridges scheduled for removal. Work began in early October, with the construction of a protective platform under one of the bridges that will be removed.
“The protective platform is required on bridges that cross over the interstate in order to catch debris from falling onto the interstate during bridge removal activities,” explained Project Engineer Robin Webb. “We will be removing a number of old bridges as the project progresses and, therefore, our work will be on and off, probably extending for about two years.
“The biggest obstacle is performing the work under traffic. Timing of construction activities that require lane closures of the interstate is always a critical issue. For instance, lane closures — and only single lane closures are allowed on this job — are only permitted during nighttime hours on weekdays, but are allowed during the daytime on Saturdays and Sundays. With that being the case, much of our bridge removal activities will have to be timed accordingly,” added Webb.
The Artis Group Inc., Lithonia, Ga., is responsible for the concrete bridge decking; specifically, the furnishing and placement of the metal decking, as well as the installation of reinforcing steel.
“Each crew is five to six people, and we may have multiple crews depending on how much work is available,” explained Artis Project Manager Jenny Spinks. “We’ve been told we should be able to start in December or January, although it’s uncertain when our work will be complete.
“For the decking, we’ll use a welding machine to weld angle iron to clips that where embedded into the beams while they were being made, cutoff saws for adjustments to the decking panels and drills to screw the panels to the angle iron. For the re-bar, hand tools are required, basically a pair of pliers and wire cutters to wrap the wire around two pieces of re-bar where they intersect.
“There are four bridges on this project and the materials vary per bridge, but the total quantities are 62,978 square feet of metal decking and 941 tons of re-bar. In this particular project weather will be a factor with us working through the coldest part of the winter. It’s also worth mentioning that metal decking’s only job is to keep the concrete on the bridge deck in place until it is cured. Some states, for instance, Mississippi, still use the old method by using plywood instead of metal, but the plywood has to be removed after the concrete has cureD.”
Subcontractor Mid State Construction & Striping Incorporated, Perry, Ga., will handle all pavement markings tied to the construction.
“We have begun some temporary traffic switches,” explained estimator Mark Massey. “The final pavement markings will be the near the end of the project. We are using paint trucks for all temporary traffic switches and they will be used prior to all the permanent striping.
“Thermoplastic long line truck, thermo hand machines and tape applicators will be used to apply all permanent markings. The biggest challenge for us will be traffic while applying permanent markings. We will do this at night when the traffic count is at its lowest.”
For now, overall construction appears to be on schedule. The GDOT hopes to unveil the changes by 2013. CEG
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