Teamwork Key to $141M Expressway in New York

Mon September 17, 2007 - Northeast Edition
David S. Chartock



The $141.8 million I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway Stage III reconstruction project has been a handful for all involved.

“With over 550 items of work, communications between and amongst the principal parties involved is expected to be the key to success for the project,” explained Kerril Hynes, engineer-in-charge, New York State Department of Transportation, Region 9 (NYSDOT), Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

As a result, Hynes said he conducts bi-weekly “progress meetings” in which “two-week look aheads” are the central feature. Project Manager Fred Cardillo of Yonkers/Dragados, a Joint Venture, the project’s Yonkers, N.Y.-based general contractor, provides the information for each look-ahead session.

“Fred provides an overview of on-going work that will take place in each work zone throughout the project’s limits,” Hynes added.

Hynes also said these meetings “provide an informal setting in which to solve problems.”

Project Overview

The project began July 31, 2006, and is located along 1.9 mi. (3 km) of I-287 on the Cross Westchester Expressway from the east end of the Bronx River Viaduct to the White Plains Bridge over I-287, covering the City of White Plains and the Town of Harrison in Westchester County, N.Y.

The scope of work calls for rehabilitation of the 1.9 mi. of I-287 main line pavement; the replacement of nine bridges; rehabilitation of one bridge; and removal of one bridge, one new bridge structure and two buildings, both located on Lake Street.

Pavement rehabilitation involves the milling of the existing overlay. In addition, this project will add a separated three-lane frontage road in the westbound direction, which will include relocating Exit 8 further east to remove the weaving associated with vehicles exiting Westchester Parkway and Exit 8W.

Hynes pointed out that the project’s scope of work also will include 1.9 mi. of noise barrier walls on both sides of I-287, where warranted. Rock blasting will be required to accommodate the improved relocation, he added. Affected non-public utilities along the project include Verizon, Tennessee Gas, and Con Edison Gas and Electric.

The new bridge will be Ramp I over the Mamaroneck River. The nine replaced bridges will include North Broadway, Grant Avenue, Ramp G, Lake Street, Brockway Place, Ramp U, Westchester Avenue, Ramp U over Westchester Avenue and Ramp T over Westchester Avenue.

The North Broadway Bridge over I-287 will be replaced with a new 95- by 164-ft. (28.9 by 50 m), two-span continuous structure on spread footings. Construction will take place in two stages and a temporary pedestrian structure will be constructed adjacent to the existing structure.

The Grant Avenue Bridge over I-287 also will be replaced with a new 52- by 177-ft. (15.8 by 53.9 m), two-span continuous structure on spread footings. This bridge will be built in two stages.

Ramp I over the Mamaroneck River will be a new culvert with an 8- by 23-ft. (2.4 by 7 m) opening, while Ramp G over I-287 will be a 36- by 295-ft. (10.9 by 90 m), two-span continuous structure on spread footings on rock. The new structure will have a 60-degree skew angle. In addition, there will be a slight realignment of the entire ramp.

Lake Street over I-287 will feature a replacement bridge that will be 69- by 220-ft. (21 by 67 m). It will be a two-span continuous structure with abutments on spread footings and a center pier on drilled shafts.

Ramp U over Westchester Avenue also will receive a slight realignment of the entire ramp as well as a new 36- by 184-ft. (10.9 by 56 m), two-span continuous structure with a 55-degree skew angle, abutments and pier on concrete piles. This new structure will be constructed adjacent to the current structure.

Ramp U over I-287 will feature a slight realignment of the entire ramp and a new 36- by 177-ft. (10.9 by 54 m), two-span continuous structure with abutments on concrete piers and a center pier on spread footings.

Ramp T over Westchester Avenue will receive a new 36- by 157-ft. (10.9 by 47.8 m), two-span continuous structure with a 55-degree skew angle and abutments and pier on concrete piles.

While the Hall Avenue Bridge over I-287 will be removed, the Brockway Place will be replaced with a new 135- by 82-ft. (41.1 by 25 m) single-span structure with its abutment on concrete piers. This will be constructed in three stages.

The Westchester Avenue WE Bridge over I-287 will be replaced with a new 62- by 135-ft. (18.9 by 41.1 m), two-span continuous structure with a 55-degree skew angle and abutments and pier on concrete piles. This bridge replacement will be constructed in two stages and a temporary pedestrian structure will be constructed adjacent to the existing bridge.

Ramp I over Main Street will be rehabilitated. The rehabilitation will consist of replacing the existing guide rail with new heavy blocked-out guide rail and a resurfaced roadway.

The combined length of the noise wall and retaining wall will be more than 2 mi. (3.2 km). It covers from the beginning of the project to While Plains Avenue. The noise and retaining walls will use concrete piles and H-piles, respectively.

Complex Challenges

Early on in the project, Hynes said, there were a number of complex challenges faced by the project team. These included utility relocation and rock-cut design and implementation. These issues have been complicated and difficult to resolve in a streamlined fashion, “with the project team continuing to work through them.”

And while “there is the sense progress is being made every day,” Hynes noted, “the project team remains confident that this project can be substantially completed within the intended timeframe.”

Hynes said that the temporary relocation of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline presented a number of challenges to the project team as well as to the public at large.

“On the one hand,” Hynes explained, “temporary relocation of this utility had to be accomplished within a contracted period of time because it was seen as a ’critical path item.’ That is to say, its completion would facilitate the project’s next major phase of work. On the other hand, an added incentive to completing this work quickly and efficiently came in the form of a severe traffic challenge to local and regional motorists wanting to access the I-287 westbound Cross Westchester Expressway at the on-ramp immediately preceding this work zone.”

Because the work zone for this relocation made it necessary to take both the right lane and shoulder, the left and center lanes of mainline traffic had to be fed through a “cattle shoot,” he added.

Concurrently, a stop sign was placed at the bottom of the on-ramp because there was no room to provide relief in the form of a merge or acceleration lane for motorists entering the I-287 westbound Cross Westchester Expressway at this juncture. This resulted in fairly sizeable backups for westbound traffic, for a few weeks queuing up at the Westchester Avenue entrance ramp located just past White Plains and Columbus avenues.

The erection of the temporary pedestrian bridge at the Westchester Avenue Bridge over I-287 required community outreach efforts that included flyers to alert local residents of the upcoming work, the necessity of the temporary structure and the fact that reconstruction of this existing bridge would take more than a year to complete, Hynes said.

The installation of a box culvert drainage system also presented some unique challenges, Hynes pointed out.

“Designed to better manage any rainwater runoff from the I-287 mainline roadway and the Lake Street overpass, this system is slated to run alongside the Delfno Park grounds, cross Main Street and run through the ’Bark Park’ before emptying into the Mamaroneck River. The project team needed to complete this work as quickly and efficiently as possible so as not to interrupt too much of the spring season’s recreational schedule. By working with the City of White Plains and the Town of Harrison, the project team was able to complete the installation of the box culvert drainage system in a timely manner,” he said.

Furthermore, he explained that “the Lake Street Bridge is considered a major crossing over the I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway linking the Town of West Harrison with the City of White Plains. In fact the span carries a great number of White Plains-bound commuters, not to mention area motorists and local pedestrians. In addition, the existing structure also supports major communication systems and facilities, and carries a vast array of local and regional utilities over the I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway. These systems are either suspended above by tall cable/conduit poles, or stored alongside or within the existing bridge structure.

“The challenge here is to complete the staged bridge reconstruction while maintaining both local and regional traffic flows, not to mention considerably higher-volume traffic flows on the I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway, and at the same time, maintaining pedestrian access on both sides of the work site as there is a considerable residential population on both sides of this bridge.”

The solution for Lake Street Bridge was for NYSDOT to design a temporary bridge structure to carry pedestrians and vehicular traffic over the Cross Westchester Expressway during demolition of the existing structure and construction of the new overpass. Approaches to the temporary structure, placed immediately east of the existing structure, required acquisition of two commercial buildings located on either side of the Cross Westchester Expressway. The temporary structure also will carry utilities over the Cross Westchester Expressway until permanent facilities are completed to house them.

“The new Lake Street Bridge structure is actually designed to be built around the existing communication cables while they are suspended from the temporary structure. The approach fills to the temporary Lake Street structure will be supported by GRES walls,” Hynes said.

Another challenge was to complete staged bridge reconstruction in a timely manner while maintaining both local and mainline traffic flows with minimal interruption to the public and to stage new bridge construction and reconstruction of existing bridges without the use of U-walls or wing walls to support highway approach fills. This required a temporary solution to ensure that the project would progress unimpeded.

A two-prong solution was required because these challenges involved I-287 over Brockway Place and the U ramp over Westchester Avenue. For I-287 over Brockway Place, Hynes noted, “during Stage 1 demolition, soil nail walls were constructed to support existing approach fills at both abutments. During Stage I construction, GRES walls will be built against the nail walls to provide a vertical support for the new approach fill. In Stage II demolition, the Stage I nail walls will be excavated and new nail walls will be constructed at the Stage II/Stage III interface. The process will then be repeated during Stage II construction.”

According to Hynes, for the U ramp over Westchester Avenue, “five to six meter-high GRES walls will be utilized during Stage I construction to vertically support approach fills at the new abutments. This will permit the ability to shift traffic from the existing structure to the adjacent new structure. The existing structure will then be removed to allow the new structure to be completed. Ultimately, the temporary GRES walls, as with the Lake Street Bridge, will be buried in the approach fills.”

High traffic volumes on the Westchester Avenue Bridge over the I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway require the new structure to be constructed in stages to maintain inbound traffic flows to the City of White Plains. Using the existing structure to the fullest extent possible for this purpose required the removal of the sidewalk for use as a temporary travel lane. Significant pedestrian traffic also uses this crossing to access the downtown White Plains shopping district and county mass transit system.

Hynes said another project challenge faced by the project’s development team is “to complete staged bridge reconstruction while maintaining both local and regional traffic flows on the affected bridge span, not to mention considerably higher-volume traffic flows on the I-287 Cross Westchester Expressway, while at the same time, maintaining pedestrian access across I-287 to allow the residential population living to the north side of this bridge, access via walking to the City of White Plains.”

NYSDOT’s solution, Hynes explained, was to construct a temporary pedestrian crossing prior to the removal of the sidewalk on the existing structure. The contractor will be required to submit a design for review and approval by the NYSDOT. The contractor has selected a two-span structure by Mabey Bridge and Shore Inc. that will be supported on Mabey universal towers and piers and cast-in-place concrete abutments.

“Due to the length of structure necessary to cross the Cross Westchester Expressway and adjacent slopes, and the relatively great pick radius dictated by these long spans, a 600-ton hydraulic crane was selected for erection,” Hynes pointed out, noting that “traffic stoppages of up to 20 minutes on the Cross Westchester Expressway will be allowed so this work can proceed.

“However, these potential traffic impacts dictate that these operations be conducted at night. The temporary pedestrian structure at Westchester Avenue was erected without incident on March 9, 2007. Stage I demolition of the existing structure has been accomplished and construction of the new bridge is about to begin.”

He added that “these cases share a common challenge and a common solution, and that is to accomplish a construction or reconstruction task in a timely manner while at the same maintaining local vehicular and pedestrian traffic flows as well as mainline I-287 traffic flows, which present regional impacts if they are significantly impeded.”

A+B Contract

Hynes explained that the general contactor’s A+B contract provides project incentives and disincentives for the Tennessee Gas Pipeline relocation and for completing other key elements of the project within the specified 42-month project timeframe.

Although the incentive for the successful and timely relocation of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline was earned by the general contractor, Hynes declined to disclose the amount of the incentive or the value of the other contract incentives that can be earned by the general contractor.

Because the relocation of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline was a critical path item, the project crew ranging from 75 to 125 workers at any given time “worked the better part of seven days per week from September 2006 through early November 2006 to complete the relocation task,” Hynes said.

At other times, work on the project must be performed within the three-hour limit of lane closures on the I-287 mainline roadway during daytime operations. Meanwhile, some work has been and will continue to be scheduled for night shifts to facilitate greater productivity when work requires single- or multiple-lane closures on the I-287 mainline roadway.

Heavy construction equipment owned by Yonkers Contracting Corp. used on the project include the following Caterpillar units: a 330DL excavator with a Tramac V46 hydraulic hammer, a 325 CLCR excavator, a 314 CL excavator, two M318-2 wheeled excavators, a 320CL excavator; two D5 dozers, a D7 bulldozer, and a 563D soil compactor.

Other equipment used on the project include two Komatsu PC-300 excavators with Tramac V46 hydraulic hammers, a Komatsu PC200 excavator, a Komatsu CA2510 soil compactor, Mack dump trucks and tractor trailers, a Wirtgen 2100 milling machine, a Powergrid 1200 screener, a Komatsu PC78 excavator, a Grove 35-ton (31.7 t) hydraulic crane, a Grove 50-ton (45.3 t) hydraulic crane and an Ingersoll Rand forklift.

Rental equipment consisted of a Casagrande B125 drill rig from Casagrande USA and two Atlas Copco AcD3 rock drills from Walter S. Pratt & Sons.

Project team members include Yonkers/Dragadus, a Joint Venture of Yonkers, N.Y., general contractor; Boswell Engineering of South Hackensack, N.J., inspection engineer; and NYSDOT Region 8, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., design engineer and owner.

Hynes said that substantial completion of the project is expected on or about Dec. 31, 2009. CEG