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Richmond International Airport Receives Upgrade

Fri October 08, 2010 - Northeast Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

A crucial upgrade for the Richmond International Airport is well on the way toward completion in Richmond, Va. The Airport Connector Road project is being constructed by Transurban USA, with Rich Prezioso Jr., serving as project manager. The design-build contractor is American Infrastructure. The full amount for the design-build contract is $39.5 million.

The contract was awarded by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). Pre-construction activities took place in late 2008, and the official groundbreaking was on Dec. 2, 2008. Construction began in early 2009, and the substantial completion date is set for March 2011.

The project will provide a direct link to Richmond International Airport from Pocahontas 895 to Airport Drive at Charles City Road. It is expected to shorten the trip to the airport by up to 10 minutes, bypassing four traffic signals and a rail crossing.

The new road will be 1.6 miles (2.5 km) long, with two lanes in each direction. In addition, the project will include the construction of three new bridges. One existing bridge will also be widened. A new interchange will be constructed with Pocahontas 895, and intersections will also be created with Seven Hills Boulevard and Charles City Road.

“What makes this project unique isn’t the engineering design or the construction method,” explained Mary Ellin Arch, communications and community relations specialist. “The Airport Connector project is unique as a result of the combination of agreements and contracts that control how it is administered. The project is made possible by a federal TIFIA loan. Transurban has put in place a number of specific reporting and review processes — including the hiring of an independent engineer — to meet requirements associated with this innovative federal loan program.”

In addition, Arch noted that the Airport Connector project is governed by Transurban’s concession agreement with VDOT. This long-term agreement obligates Transurban to maintain the roadway until 2105 and also allows Transurban to collect tolls. Actual ownership of the Airport Connector, and Pocahontas 895, remains with VDOT at all times.

The design and construction are governed by the design-build contract with American Infrastructure.

“Project Manager Rich Prezioso balances the needs of a multitude of stakeholders,” Arch said. “These include American Infrastructure, VDOT, FHWA, the Capital Region Airport Commission that manages Richmond International Airport, the county of Henrico utilities and public works departments, the city of Richmond utilities department and the independent engineer and quality assurance manager assigned to the project.”

Stakeholders also include the toll system vendor, the CSXT Railroad that passes through the Connector’s route and adjoining landowners including an estate that hopes to build an industrial park on wooded land on either side of the road.

“It is exciting to be a part of a project where we are the first to combine many of these features into one project,” Prezioso said. “Often we look for examples of how something was handled in the past on similar projects, and the response we get is that it hasn’t been done before.”

Arch noted that the project is currently on schedule, and in fact may reach substantial completion ahead of schedule.

Safety is a top priority, and at press time, the project had gone more than 530 days without a lost-time accident. Safety meetings are held regularly to identify specific issues and resolve potential safety concerns. Safety training is mandated.

“The project is providing jobs for Virginians during tough economic times,” Arch said. “It uses local subcontractors, including small and disadvantaged businesses. The project will support economic growth in southeastern suburban Richmond.”

Arch also noted that, although it is still in the very early planning stages, the project will include a cultural component recognizing the significant Civil War history of the area.

According to Gregg Newhouse, senior project manager of American Infrastructure of Virginia, the project presented several challenges. They included timely MSE wall settlement, the wet spring weather, maintenance of traffic and traffic control, efficient subcontractor coordination, consistent lime stabilization and continued safety.

The project includes 60,000 tons (54,431 t) of stone, 131,000 sq. ft. (12,170 sq m) of MSE walls, 120,000 cu. yds. (91,746 cu. m) of sand backfill, 2,500 cu. yds. (1,911 cu. m) of cast-in-place concrete, 180,000 cu. yds. (13,761 cu. m) of moved earth, and 40,000 tons (36,287 t) of asphalt.

Major subcontractors for the project include DW Lyle, Clarksville, Va, for bridges 603 and 605; DW Cary, Richmond, for trucking; Snead Trucking, Richmond, for trucking; McDonough Bolyard Peck, Richmond, for quality assurance; Dewberry, Glen Allen, Va., engineer of record; Lee Hy Paving, Richmond, for paving; Midasco, Ekridge, Md., for signs; A&M Concrete, Dulles, Va., for concrete curb; LS Lee, Richmond, for guardrail; DT Read, Richmond, for reinforcing steel installer; Froehling & Robertson, Richmond, for miscellaneous concrete; and Slurry Paving, Richmond, for calcement/lime stabilization.

Major equipment for the job includes a Caterpillar 328 excavator, a Komatsu PC228 excavator, a Caterpillar rubber-tired loader, a Caterpillar 430D backhoe, a Caterpillar 60-in. (152 cm) trench roller, Caterpillar D5 and D8 dozers, a Caterpillar grader, a Caterpillar 236B2 skid steer, a Bidwell concrete paver, a 180-ton (163 t) Link-Belt crane and an 80-ton (92 t) Grove hydraulic crane.

Pocahontas 895 is an 8.8-mile (14.1 km) cash and fully electronic toll road with an elevated bridge crossing the James River. It is located southeast of Richmond, and links Interstate 95 at Chippenham Parkway (Route 150) with Interstate 295 to create a southern bypass of the city. It is the only crossing of the James River for 6 mi. (9.6 km) in either direction.

The Commonwealth of Virginia, which planned and constructed Pocahontas 895, has formed a public-private partnership with Transurban, giving it a 99-year lease to manage and maintain the road. The road opened in 2002, and Transurban assumed management of Pocahontas 895 in June 2006 from VDOT. Transurban is a leading international toll road manager with offices in the United States and Australia. CEG

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