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Ruhlin Overcomes River Uncertainties Along I-75

An $8.4 million project aims to reconstruct an 800 ft. long seven-span structure.

Thu May 23, 2013 - Midwest Edition
Irwin Rapoport

Located less then a mi. north from the project to reconstruct part of Interstate 75 in Dayton, the Ruhlin Company also is responsible for the demolition and reconstruction of the I-75 to Route 4 North Ramp Bridge in Montgomery County along I-75 — an 800 ft. (243.8 m) long seven-span structure that spans the Great Miami River.

Work on the $8.4 million project, which is being done in two major phases, began in October 2011 and is expected to be completed in July. Precast concrete I-beams (supplied by Prestress Services Inc.) were used on the main bridge. Also part of the project is the rebuilding of an 85-ft. (26 m) three-span slab deck bridge over a SR 4 ramp lane.

Ruhlin built causeways to access the terrain to construct the sheet pile cofferdams and concrete piers that were necessary to erect the new bridge superstructure.

The two-lane, single ramp bridge takes motorists from Main Street in downtown Dayton and those coming off the I-75 North to Route 4.

Due to the nature of the project, planning required Ruhlin to coordinate with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the city of Dayton and the Miami Conservancy District to develop a causeway plan that met the Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) requirements, while maintaining river flow and recreational activities.

“We also coordinated with various agencies on the implementation of detours for the two recreational trails that pass through the project, while maintaining access to the public parks that surround the project,” said Jim Ruhlin Jr. “It was all laid out in ODOT’s plan as far as the causeway — what you could do, how much material you could do, etc. We have a good relationship with the Conservancy and that helped as far as accessing over and through the river levy, as well as restoring it after the work was completed and putting in some improvements that they had requested for the levy and its infrastructure.”

The levy is part of Dayton’s flood control system. Ruhlin crews used some of the broken concrete from the old bridge’s demolition to line some of levies to help with erosion control and cover areas where grass does not grow.

The new bridge completely spans the river and is open to motorists, but it still requires some work on the substructure and then the deck before it can be open completely.

A partial construction method was chosen, with the bridge cut in half, with one half undergoing demolition and reconstruction. Traffic was then switched to the newly completed side and work proceeded on the remaining half.

Various environmental concerns were met in order to proceed.

“Once we had the causeway out under the bridge, we just had to monitor what materials we brought in, such as placing clean concrete into the river,” said Ruhlin Jr. “We had to dig the causeway out when we were finished.”

The old bridge was essentially recycled with the 13,000 cu. yd. (9,939 cu m) of concrete used for the causeway and lining the levies and all the steel 1,017 tons (922.6 t) was sold to be recycled. In terms of new materials used to build the new structures, 5,400 linear ft. (1,646 m) of concrete I-beams, 4,865 cu. yds. (3,720 cu m) of concrete and 1.02 million tons (927,687 t)of rebar were used to construct the new structures.

At peak construction, close to 25 workers were on site. In terms of equipment, the crews at various times employed a Caterpillar 330D excavator, a Volvo L-120 F loader, a Link Belt 8050-II 50-ton RT crane and a Komatsu D37 dozer — all owned by Ruhlin. An APE model 9.5 hydraulic hammer was rented from American Pile Driving Equipment.

“We had to use this type of pile driving equipment to fit under the existing bridge structure,” said Ruhlin Jr. “Our usual diesel hammer would not work and our Sonic side grip is not strong enough to drive tube piling. By using this piece of equipment we were able to construct 92 percent of the substructure construction in the first phase of work. This allowed us to save money on mobbing pile driving equipment into the causeway twice. It also will allow us to pull our causeway from the river sooner that expected.”

The major challenge for the crews was dealing with the river.

“With the river comes uncertainties,” said Ruhlin Jr. “There were some utility issues and then there was the waterline — it was fairly close to some of the work and there was variability in the river bottom in this area. At times what we were told about the causeway ended up with our having to bring in bigger amounts of material to install the infrastructure. With that came some added costs to ODOT.

“The fluctuations of the river level were serious because when you are working in water and the water level rises over the causeways you are working on,” he added, “you have to stop operations temporarily.”

Crews used an ICE model I-19 diesel hammer to drive 5,850 linear ft. (1,783 m) of piling into the riverbed. For the main bridge, five piers were placed between two dikes in the river’s flood plain.

Due to the proximity of the main I-75 reconstruction, the superintendent, Tom Hill was able to call for resources such as equipment, labor and mechanics to aid in his project.

“It is always a benefit when two jobs can work together to improve their productivity and efficiency,” said Hill. “This advantage allows Ruhlin to bid projects more competitively and manage our costs proficiently.”

The Conservancy provided Ruhlin with a sufficiently sized site to store building materials and vehicles. The area was not fenced in, but Ruhlin Jr. added that “it is out in the open enough that we didn’t have a lot of problems. We had some issues with people stealing small pieces of metal scrap and some breaking of windows on equipment, but that is pretty much standard.”

Ruhlin crews were aided by the following subcontractors — J & B Steel for all the steelwork, A & A Safety for all the temporary signs and striping, Security Fence for the overhead signs and guardrails, and John R. Jurgenson Co. for the asphalt work.

The I-75 bridge replacement project demonstrates how close coordination with various bodies helps to overcome rough and difficult terrain and remain on schedule; and how having projects within close proximity of one another can allow a firm to maximize its resources.

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