SDDOT Works on Final Phase of Heartland Expressway

Thu October 24, 2013 - Midwest Edition
Dorinda Anderson


Concrete paving began in May to complete the final portion of the Heartland Expressway in South Dakota.
Concrete paving began in May to complete the final portion of the Heartland Expressway in South Dakota.
Concrete paving began in May to complete the final portion of the Heartland Expressway in South Dakota. The Heartland Expressway is being constructed to bring an almost 500-mi. (804-km) four-lane divided highway from Denver to Rapid City, S.D., where only two lanes previously existed. Work on the Heartland Express began in Rapid City in 1997 and since then has included several projects, totaling 71 mi. (114 km), along U.S. 385, South Dakota 79, and U.S. 18. This final four-lane segment in South Dakota is being constructed from Oelrichs, S.D., south to the Nebraska border on Highway 385. Two new paved lanes are being constructed for northbound traffic, while the existing two lanes will be upgraded for southbound traffic. As of early August crews of Loiseau Construction Inc. of Flandreau, S.D., were constructing the southbound lanes from Oelrichs to 2 mi. (3.2 km) south of Oelrichs. Early in May heavy dirt excavation was done with scrapers 3 to 4 mi. south of Oelrichs on Highway 385 and trucks were hauling gravel for the new northbound road.

Concrete paving began in May to complete the final portion of the Heartland Expressway in South Dakota. The Heartland Expressway is being constructed to bring an almost 500-mi. (804-km) four-lane divided highway from Denver to Rapid City, S.D., where only two lanes previously existed.

Work on the Heartland Express began in Rapid City in 1997 and since then has included several projects, totaling 71 mi. (114 km), along U.S. 385, South Dakota 79, and U.S. 18.

This final four-lane segment in South Dakota is being constructed from Oelrichs, S.D., south to the Nebraska border on Highway 385. Two new paved lanes are being constructed for northbound traffic, while the existing two lanes will be upgraded for southbound traffic.

In mid-May concrete paving began starting a half a mile north of Oelrichs on the new northbound two-lane highway and, once complete, concrete paving was moved to the southbound lanes continuing to the railroad tracks 5 mi. (8 km) south of Oelrichs, according to Tim Wicks, engineering supervisor of the South Dakota department of transportation.

As of early August crews of Loiseau Construction Inc. of Flandreau, S.D., were constructing the southbound lanes from Oelrichs to 2 mi. (3.2 km) south of Oelrichs, which will be completed with an asphalt surface by mid-August, Wicks said.

“We are actually recreating the roadway to improve the vertical curves so the site distance is improved. The rest of the southbound lanes, 11 miles from where the new two miles of roadway are being constructed ends to Nebraska, will get an overlay because those lanes are in good condition.”

Early in May heavy dirt excavation was done with scrapers 3 to 4 mi. south of Oelrichs on Highway 385 and trucks were hauling gravel for the new northbound road. Some of the existing asphalt surface, 73,000 tons (66,224 t), was milled for use under the concrete and asphalt, using a TR1200 rotor miller to scribe the existing asphalt to remove it for reuse, Wicks said. About 120,000 tons (108,862 t) of virgin granular also was used under the concrete and asphalt.

Crews also used two Cat 637 scrapers, five 631 scrapers, a 627 scraper, and two challengers to process dirt. Four blade scrapers, two 14s, one 16, and one 140 also were used, according to Matt Rippentrop, project engineer of the South Dakota department of transportation.

Stanley Johnson Concrete of Rapid City, S.D., the prime contractor on the concrete portion of the project, poured 8 in. (20 cm) of non-reinforced concrete, a total of 222,000 sq. yds. (185,620 sq m), to complete the additional lanes, in addition to 54,000 tons (48,988 t) of asphalt.

To prepare the subsurface, eight side-dump trucks were used to haul materials, three water wagons, two of which were 631s and one is a TS31, were used, along with two water trucks. Three dozers, a D10, a D9, and a D8 were used to spread the gravel. Two farm tractors pulled rollers to compact the subsurface.

The $25 million project saw a slight increase of $200,000, mostly due to the need to improve some existing pipe connections under the surface of the existing lanes that workers could get to.

“The need to replace these was noticed by project personnel who thought this would be the best time to fix the issue,” Wicks said.

The pipes were replaced in areas from 2 mi. (3.2 km) south of Oelrichs to the Nebraska state line.

The project also includes constructing the new Horsehead Creek Bridge and five box culverts, all in the new northbound lanes. Work on the bridge, located 4 mi. (6.4 km) south of Oelrichs, began last fall and continued into early winter. Crews installed and drilled 30-in. (76 cm) diameter shafts to about 42-ft. (12.8 m) deep using 56 cu. yds. (42.8 cu m) of concrete.

About 700 ft. (213 m) of hp10 X 57 steel pile was driven and the abutments and columns were poured.

“That is where the bridge project sits right now,” Wicks said. “The deck remains to be poured. And hasn’t been started due to subcontractors’ schedules. The bridge has a deadline of Oct. 1, 2014, as does the rest of the project, so once subcontractors’ schedules line up, work will proceed.”

To complete the deck portion of the 134-ft. (41 m) long bridge, 289 cu. yds. (221 cu m) of concrete will be needed. The three-span, concrete bridge is 36-ft. (11 m) wide and is being constructed over the northbound lanes. The southbound bridge already exists so nothing will be done to it other than changing the guardrail so it is correct for one-way traffic, as opposed to the two-way traffic in the past, Wicks said.

Three of the new box culverts are 9 by 8 ft. (2.7 by 2.4 m) precast and are intended as cattle passes under the roadway.

The fourth box culvert is 11 by 7 ft. (3.35 by 2.1 m) precast, which is replacing a bridge on the existing lanes located over Blair creek, about 7 mi. (11 km) south of Oelrichs.

The final box culvert is a triple barrel 10 by 7 ft. (3 by 2 m) precast box culvert that replaces an existing box culvert on antelope Hollow Creek. This culvert runs through the southbound and the northbound lanes.

It was anticipated at one point that the project could potentially be completed in 2013 — a year ahead of schedule.

“The contractor had hoped to complete it this year but the South Dakota DOT believed it was too much work to be done in one year. Scheduling didn’t work out in the contractor’s favor,” Wicks said, adding that there are several subcontractors on the project whose schedules didn’t sync with the prime contractor as well as they had hoped once the subs organized their other project schedules.

“Otherwise we faced pretty normal issues. We had some rain this spring but it didn’t hold up the contractors for any significant amount of time; a day or two here or there,” said Wicks.