Stockbridge Bottleneck Fix Forges Ahead With GDOT Incentive Plan

Wed May 12, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Kerry Lynn Kirby

As a resident of Henry County, GA, Bert Brantley knows firsthand how badly the Interstate 75/Eagle’s Landing Parkway interchange in Stockbridge needs the $24 million upgrading project in progress there.

“There’s just too much traffic for the number of lanes now,” said Brantley, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation. “It’s a frequent bottleneck, literally a traffic choke point ... at rush hour, but not only. [It is during] other times, too.”

“I’ve spent many a day sitting on that ramp,” he said. “This is definitely needed and wanted by the locals.”

The horrible traffic problem is more than just a headache for the Atlanta suburb’s commuters and folks needing to get to the businesses and homes at the interchange, it’s a public health and safety issue because it impairs access to Henry Medical Center, located just east of the interchange, Brantley said.

Consequently, getting the job finished as soon as possible is a priority for the Georgia DOT, he said.

That’s why finishing early is worth up to $1 million for Marietta, GA-based C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., thanks to an early completion incentive written into the contract –– the first offered by the Georgia DOT, Brantley said.

For every day before the June 30, 2006, completion date that C.W. Matthews finishes, the company will receive $10,000, up to $1 million for 100 days early, he said.

“I think that shows our commitment and the Federal Highway Commission’s commitment to getting this done as early as possible,” said Brantley, noting about 80 percent of the project’s funding is federal. “Every day that project is open, we think the benefit far outweighs the incentive.”

C.W. Matthews is very committed to getting the job finished as quickly as possible, he said, so the company is expected to get at least some portion of that bonus.

The company, selected through a low-bid process, recently finished work on a bridge project in midtown Atlanta on time and on budget, Brantley said.

The up to $1 million early completion bonus is undoubtedly a motivation to scheduling the work as smartly as possible, C.W. Matthews Vice President Peter Feininger said.

“We’ll be more aggressive to try to achieve that,” Feininger said.

The project involves construction of a new 11-lane bridge over Interstate 75 at the Eagle’s Landing Parkway interchange and 1 1/2 miles of road widening on Eagle’s Landing Parkway and Hudson Bridge Road, Brantley said.

Ramps to and from the interstate will be widened and lengthened “so there’s a lot more room for storage” to accommodate vehicles backed up at the lights, he said.

The job also entails the building of sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes, said Brantley, noting they are badly needed in the busy area.

“It’s not a very pedestrian-friendly corridor now,” he said.

C.W Matthews started work at the site in mid-February and is currently in the first phase of both the roadway widening and bridge construction portions of the job,” Feininger said.

With just a couple months in, it’s hard to say if they’re on target time-wise or not, he said.

They’ve had to work around a lot of utility relocation and the high traffic volume, Feininger said.

Because of traffic volume, workers are on site day and night, he said.

There are about 30 crew members in total, divided about equally between day and night shifts, Feininger said. “It’s really a 24-hours-a-day, 6-days-a-week operation.”

The bridge building has to be done in phases because of the high traffic and need to keep it flowing as well as possible, Brantley said.

C.W. Matthews is constructing half of the new bridge –– featuring at its widest four thru-lanes and two left turn lanes to get onto I-75 north toward Atlanta, he said.

When that half as well as the tie-ins are finished, it will be opened up and the existing bridge will be torn down, Brantley said.

Then the other part of the new bridge, featuring three thru-lanes and two turn lanes to get onto the I-75 south ramp, will be built on the old bridge’s footprint, he said.

About 1 mi. of road will be widened on the east side of the interchange, where the road is called Eagle’s Landing Parkway. It is where the medical center and auxiliary businesses as well as a country club and sizable residential development are located, Brantley said.

Approximately half the length of road will be widened on the west side of the interchange, where the road is called Hudson Bridge Road and there currently is far less development than on Eagle’s Landing Parkway.

Substructure work on the bridge, being built parallel to the existing bridge, is being done in the daytime, Feininger said.

All of the grading operations and hauling are being done at night, when they’ll be doing a lot of the concrete work and paving later down the line, he said.

Several Caterpillars are being used on the job: Cat 345 and 330 excavators, two Cat D6 dozers, a Cat 14G motorgrader and Cat rollers. All the equipment has been purchased from Yancey Bros. Co. in Atlanta, Feininger said.

Other equipment now on the job includes a Link-Belt LS218 crane and an American 4460 crane, purchased from Atlantic and Southern Equipment LLC in Atlanta, and a MKT pile hammer, purchased from Seaboard Steel Corp. in Sarasota, FL.

Feininger said his company uses all Caterpillar equipment for its grading and compacting work “because of the reliability, retention of value and service” the manufacturer offers.

And they’ve been really pleased with Yancey Bros. Co., he said.

The job will include about 483,000 cu. yds. (369,280 cu m) of earth removal, Feininger said.

Subcontractor Thrasher Trucking Co. of Atlanta is providing all the trucks for hauling, he said. Cheoah Construction Company of Robbinsville, NC, is the clearing subcontractor on the job.

The number of workers on the project will vary depending on what’s being done, but will probably peak between 60 and 70 workers including subcontractors, Feininger said.

The job also will include 57,000 sq. yds. (47,660 sq m) of 12-in. (30.5 cm) thick concrete — just on the roadway, he said, and about 110,000 tons (99,790 t) of asphalt.

Aside from some “spectator delays” due to rubbernecking, the project has caused minimal impact on the community so far, Brantley said.

Construction lane closures are limited to the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

While that doesn’t apply to the utilities moving, Brantley said, the companies have been “strongly encouraged” not to do the moving during peak traffic times. Stockbridge Bottleneck Fix Forges Ahead With GDOT Incentive Plan.