Road and bridge construction is in full gear in Ohio and two projects in the Dayton area reflect the busy construction season.
Road and bridge construction is in full gear in Ohio and two projects in the Dayton area reflect the busy construction season. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is responsible for the effort to help upgrade aging infrastructure and the modernization of road systems in order to handle future traffic needs.
The projects are the Interstate Route 70 lane addition between state Route 48 and Airport Access Road, a $50.4 million project being done by the John R. Jurgensen Company (JRJ) and the I-75 Modernization Phase 2, a $126 million project, was awarded to the Kokosing Construction Company.
The IR-70 project will create three continuous lanes on IR-70 westbound and eastbound between SR 48 and Airport Access Road in Montgomery County (Greater Dayton), which will ultimately reduce traffic congestion.
“This stretch of I-70 is one of the few areas between Indiana and Columbus that is still only two lanes in each direction,” according to the ODOT Web page for the project. “This project will not only provide motorists with added interstate capacity, but will increase safety by replacing bridges in that area with newer structures. The project also allows for higher traffic volumes in the future.”
The work, which began in the summer of 2014 and should be completed in the summer of 2016, also will improve pavement conditions, upgrade the drainage system through the project and replace and upgrade bridges. This will handle future traffic needs with addition of a third lane in both directions on IR-70 and increase traffic flow and alleviate congestion,” according to the Web site.
Prior to the start of construction, daily traffic on this stretch of road was approximately 70,000 vehicles with opening day traffic of 71,320 vehicles and 87,220 vehicles in the design year (2032). These totals include both cars and trucks.
The work will see RJR replace eight mainline bridges and reconstruct 4.28 mi. (6.8 km) of roadway, which will carry six lanes of traffic (3 in each direction).
The widening of IR-70 in Montgomery County between state Route 49 and the Clark County line to the east has been in the long-range plan since 1998 via the Montgomery County, Ohio Interstate 70 Corridor Major Investment Study prepared by ODOT.
“ODOT and local stakeholders have worked together to complete the design and construction of a continuous six-lane section along IR 70 from SR 48 in Montgomery County through Clark County,” said Randy Chevalley, ODOT's District 7 deputy director. “Once the final Clark County section between the interchanges of United States Route 68 and state Route 72 are constructed, then there will be six-lanes from western Montgomery County to eastern Licking County. Major rehabilitation projects are designed using federal and state standards (based on design controlling criteria) with the design speed and design year traffic as the basis for the overall design parameters.”
The design was prepared in part by R.W. Armstrong Consultants Inc. The partial design and the preparation of the design-build scope was then sold as a design-build project that was awarded to the Design-Build team of John R. Jurgensen Company and U.R.S. Consultants, Inc. (now owned by AECOM).
During the construction, two lanes will remain open to motorists in each direction of IR-70 and public advisories are being sent out in advance of any lane or ramp closures needed to complete the construction in that area and detours will be posted to maintain traffic.
“ODOT follows a project development process once a project is planned and programmed [based on a defined purpose and need],” said Matt Parrill, ODOT's district planning and engineering administrator. “Then we engage and inform the public throughout a project's preliminary development [including environmental], design, real estate and construction phases. We solicit input about the project's preferred alternative and inform affected stakeholders early in the design process. Constant updates occur throughout the process, especially during the actual construction when the traveling public and affected residential and business owners may be impacted by various stages of work.”
The traffic management plan for the project is based on part-width construction.
“This involves narrowing the traffic lanes and shifting the traffic lanes, to the left or right, onto the shoulder and reconstructing the vacated portion of the roadway, plus any roadway widening,” said Parrill. “Then the traffic will be shifted onto the reconstructed/widened roadway and the remaining portion of the roadway and shoulders will be reconstructed/widened. Portable concrete barrier will be installed between the workers and I-70 traffic in most areas. Construction access points provide breaks in the portable concrete barrier with deceleration and acceleration areas for construction vehicles.”
The new bridges will have a 75-year lifespan with routine maintenance. The structures will consist of two single-span deck on pre-stressed concrete I-girder bridges, two four-span deck on steel beam bridges, two three-span concrete slab bridges and two single-span concrete slab bridges.
“As a design build project,” said Dave Ley, ODOT's district construction administrator, “ODOT was very involved in the contractor's approach for construction. We worked with the contractor and agreed to modify the scoped constraints on the structure over the Stillwater River to minimize the time spent in the River. ODOT reviewed/approved plan submittals during design, along with Requests for Information submittals during construction as issues arose.”
The amount of time to build a bridge is highly dependent on the structure type, site constraints, construction season, and maintenance of traffic chosen.
“For typical isolated interstate mainline bridge projects [interstate runs on top of bridge] that utilize four phases to construct half of each bridge per-phase,” said Ley, “on average it takes two full seasons, with each season being four to five months long. Ideally, halves of one bridge are built completely in the first season [i.e. Northbound], the traffic is reset to the existing condition over the winter, and then both halves of the second bridge are built completely in the second season [i.e. Southbound]. This results in the safest conditions during winter events.
“Bridges that are constructed on rural state routes where the route is completely closed can be constructed much quicker, typically less than one season,” he said. “Dependent on size and type, this can be as little as three weeks.”
The work site has the usual array of the vehicles and equipment, including excavators, backhoes, dozers, dump trucks, cranes, rollers and generators.
The I-75 Modernization Phase 2 project in Dayton is seeing Kokosing create three continuous lanes on I-75 northbound and southbound between Fifth Street and Main Street.
“This is the third and final phase of the I-75 Modernization project and it will connect the two previous phases,” according to the Web page for the project. “This project will eliminate the left hand on and off ramps along the interstate. It will also move many of the various traffic patterns to the city streets creating a smoother flow on I-75.
“By renovating this portion of the interstate, ODOT is creating a safer, smoother highway system and allowing for higher traffic volumes in the future. This project will complete the I-75 Modernization project eliminating the previous bottleneck around the city of Dayton while improving traffic flow as well as pavement and bridge conditions.”
The work will see total reconstruction of 0.91 mi. (1.6 km) of I-75 from Fifth Street to Main Street, including 11 bridges. The $126 million worth of work is compressed in less than mile of interstate due to the large number of structures. The northbound and southbound sections had three lanes before and that will not change.
“The difference is that before the project, due to the right and left hand exit/entrance ramps,” said Matt Bruning, ODOT's press secretary, “the lanes were added and dropped requiring constant merging with only one of the three lanes being ‘continuous' throughout the corridor.”
Also included is the creation of one central interchange in the area of First and Third Street; and the realignment of surface streets to coordinate with revised interstate entrances and exits.
This will create a smoother, safer commute through the city of Dayton, according to the Web page, and create easier access on and off the interstate by eliminating confusing left hand entrances and exits. It also alleviates congestion, current average daily traffic is approximately 115,000 vehicles; allows for heavier traffic volumes by adding a third continuous lane in each direction; and upgrades pavement, bridge and aesthetic designs.
The work began in the fall of 2012 and should be completed in the fall of 2017.
The project requires full coordination between Kokosing and ODOT to match the schedule and work to traffic control, particularly the closure of ramps, exits, and lanes. This started at the beginning with the closure of the I-75 northbound ramps to Second, First and Third streets; the U.S. 35 eastbound ramps to I-75 northbound; and the current exits and entrances on I-75 southbound.
“As with any project of this magnitude, there is initially some confusion and concern on the part of the local business owners and the traveling public-at-large when major traffic shifts occur, or points of access are diverted,” said Bruning. “The department has effectively minimized this by utilizing a variety of media outlets to communicate with stakeholders and motorists. Even though they find it somewhat challenging to deal with the ongoing construction, they do see the overall benefit of the project.
“Initial closure of all the entrance/exit ramps within the project utilized portable concrete barrier has allowed the contractor the necessary access to the work and minimized the decision points that need to be negotiated by the traveling public both of which result in increased safety for the workers and motorists. This is the last of three phases for the modernization of I-75 through Dayton. The scope of work in each was strategic in nature. This final phase utilizes the new Main Street interchange that was built in the first phase to handle in bound traffic from the north and the increased capacity provided to U.S. 35 constructed during the second phase for traffic wanting to enter the city from the South.”
The traffic management was designed to protect the public and the construction workers.
“Lane closures on the interstate are dictated by our permitted lane closure policy,” said Bruning, “which is derived to allow work at times which will result in the minimum amount of congestion. This is naturally during the off-peak night time hours in an urban setting such as ours.”
According to ODOT, the project is approximately 74 percent paid out, and is $1.1 million under budget and nearly two months ahead of schedule.
When the project is delivered, the construction will have used approximately 65,000 cu. yds. (49,696 cu m) or 123,000 tons (111,583 t) concrete, 870 tons (789 t) of structural steel beams, 55,200 ft. (16,824 m) or 10.5 mi. (16.8 km) of concrete beams, 4,500 tons (4,082 t) of rebar and 36,000 tons (32,658 t) of asphalt.
The bridge work is a critical aspect of the revamp.
“The project was set up to build the southbound infrastructure first and then once completed, the northbound side would be constructed,” said Bruning. “The contractor organized his schedule to actually work on seven of the 11 structures during the initial maintenance of traffic phase, leaving only four to be completed in the second phase. One of the major challenges was the extremely wet weather that we experienced. This was especially detrimental to the river bridge work as a majority of the substructure is constructed within the levied section of the Great Miami River.
“Another major undertaking for the project was that the contractor utilized the value engineering change proposal process to modify the design of nine out of the 11 bridges. Although this eventually resulted in a project savings of over $2.5 million, the redesign, review and approval process severely compressed the project schedule during the first full construction season. It required immense commitment and avid communication by both parties to see this come to fruition.”
The contractor is currently working on the four remaining structures, including the northbound halves of both river bridges, as well as the structures for the northbound exit ramp to 1st/2nd Street and the entrance ramp at 3rd Street.
“All four of these bridges should be completed by next summer,” said Bruning.
Major subcontractors brought in by Kokosing include: Blackswamp Steel for reinforcing steel; Security Fence Group for guardrail/fence/signs; Miller Cable Company for highway lighting; Security Traffic and Signal for signals; Barrett Paving Materials for asphalt; and A&A Safety for permanent pavement markings.
During the heart of the construction season there are between 100 to 150 Kokosing/subcontractor personnel on site. ODOT is providing the contractor with areas to establish temporary offices and sites to store materials, vehicles, and repair facilities.
The eight-person ODOT team also has an onsite office.
“The project has formal progress meetings monthly to keep all the project stakeholders up to date on the project's status,” said Bruning. “However, the interactions between the ODOT and Kokosing staffs is daily, if not hourly, as is necessary to coordinate work, resolve current problems and anticipate potential future issues on this tight complex project. Without extensive efforts by both parties, the project's progress would slow and the costs would rise. One of the major keys to success is timely, concise, yet professional, communication at all levels of the project team. This allows the project to provide as much value as possible to the department, the contractor and the traveling public.”