Super-Slab Debuts on I-15 in San Bernardino, Calif.

Thu March 11, 2010 - National Edition
Jennifer Rupp


Super-Slab will be placed on I-15 at night, similar to this I-95 project in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Super-Slab will be placed on I-15 at night, similar to this I-95 project in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Super-Slab will be placed on I-15 at night, similar to this I-95 project in New Rochelle, N.Y. Median work progresses near a bridge widening in the I-10/I-15 interchange. View of the I-15 median looking north.  The median has been excavated and will be prepped for paving and median barrier.

When a road is traveled on by 216,000 vehicles per day, it can’t afford to be “closed for repairs.” The 4.7 mi. (7.56 km) stretch of I-15 in San Bernardino County will see a quick turn-around with the use of Super-Slab.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the cities of Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga are cooperating to fix Interstate 15 from state Route 60 in Ontario north to 6th Street in Rancho Cucamonga.

The project began in April 2009, with the scope of bridge widening, median paving and pavement replacement. There are six bridges in line to be widened toward the roadway centerline, closing the gap between the northbound and southbound bridge decks.

Security Paving Company Inc. of Sun Valley, Calif. is heading up the project with grading, pavement removal and replacement, as well as paving the median.

Super-Slab Technology

In 2001, an upstate New York precast concrete company called The Fort Miller Co. Inc. introduced a revolutionary product that would speed up the construction industry by leaps and bounds. Super-Slab is a slab on grade system used for highways, exit ramps and airport pavement replacement. This system is also used effectively as approach slabs to bridges, tunnels, crosswalks and complex urban intersections.

Super-Slab panels are cast to exacting tolerances and placed on pre-graded, sub-base surfaces that have similar exacting tolerances as the slabs. Slabs interlock with adjacent panels with load transfer dowels. To assure complete and full slab support, specially designed grout is pumped into a bedding grout distribution system effectively filling voids that may exist under the slabs.

In 2004, FHWA launched a program called Highways for Life (HfL) with three main goals: improve safety during and after construction, reduce congestion caused by construction, and improve the quality of the highway infrastructure. Super-Slab was included in the program’s presentation of products, materials and equipment that support the advancement of HfL’s goals.

The FHWA is funding $5 million of the $52 million project total, with the remainder being provided by the State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP).

By using Super-Slab, Caltrans anticipates a decrease in construction time and traffic impacts, and an increase in safety for motorists and workers during construction. The new technology also will allow work to take place during cold temperatures that are not typically suitable for concrete work. Super-Slab is also anticipated to have a longer pavement life than typical rapid-set concrete replacement methods.

Super-Slab will be used continuously in Lanes 3 and 4 along a portion of mainline I-15, and intermittently for patchwork repairs for a total of 1.85 lane-mi. (3 km) (of the 17 lane-mi. (27 km) of pavement replacement). The Fort Miller Co. has partnered with precaster Pro-Cast of Highland, Calif. to cast the Super-Slab sections, which will be delivered to the worksite via semi-trucks.

Since its introduction almost a decade ago, Super-Slab has been used in seven states and two countries on projects totaling nearly 14 lane-mi. (22.5 km).

Jonathan den Hartog, Caltrans project engineer, is excited to use Super-Slab on the 1-15 Ontario Fix.

“We were impressed with the Super-Slab testing we did in 2005 in San Bernardino,” commented den Hartog. Now Caltrans will get to see the technology in action with 706 precast slabs.

Rapid Weekends

In an effort to further speed up construction, the I-15 project will be using the Rapid Weekends procedure.

“We are using 55-hour weekend closures to minimize impacts to commuters and reduce the number of closures needed,” explained Darin Cooke, public information officer for Caltrans district 8.

“We performed two traffic studies during the design phase to plan the best routes and enhance the efficiencies of the detours,” continued Cooke. “We’ve also included a vast outreach to the cities and businesses to keep them aware of closures and address any concerns they may have.”

“All this works and seems to have paid off so far. We have had two major weekend closures, including one in which both southbound connectors to the east and west of I-10 were closed. The closures went quite well with minimum delays,” commented Cooke.

Security Paving is being assisted by a number of California subcontractors, including Harber Companies Inc. of San Bernardino for bridge removal and pavement grinding, and Claremont’s CMC Regional Steel, which is providing bridge steel, approach slab steel and steel for sign structure piles. Shoring Engineers, based in Santa Fe Springs, is performing the piling work and Avar Construction Systems Inc. of Fremont was hired for bridge pre-stressing. The Chrisp Company, also located in Fremont, is responsible for traffic striping and markers, and Stanton’s Modern Alloys, Inc. is doing the guardrail work.

During the ongoing excavation, 53,000 cu. yds. (40,521 cu m) of earth will be removed. In addition, almost 82,000 lane-ft. (24,994 m) of pavement will be replaced. Some of this extra material will be used as base material in median paving and the rest will be crushed and hauled to a waste facility.

After Phase 1 is complete, which included widening the bridges and median paving, the median lanes will serve as temporary traffic lanes while the Super-Slab is being put into place on the regular lanes.

The project is expected to be complete by the spring of 2011. Caltrans is providing ongoing project information including closures at www.caltrans8.info.