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Turner Takes Pole Position on $135M Kansas NASCAR Track

Sat September 02, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Megan Nichols

It’s not everyday that one sees a Caterpillar D10 bulldozer blazing a trail on a NASCAR track; yet, it’s becoming a familiar site at the Kansas Speedway, where Turner Construction Company is managing construction of the eagerly awaited race track.

The 1.5-mi. (2.4 km) tri-oval track is scheduled for completion in April 2001. Race dates are set, and cars will be roaring around the turns as early as July of the same year. Located on the front stretch, the grandstands have a capacity of 75,000 and are shadowed by 60 luxury suites.

“Earthwork, grandstands and suites are not the only thing included in this project. There are 50 buildings being constructed on site as well. Buildings range from concessions, souvenirs and restrooms to garages, inspection stations and emergency care facilities. All are on-site to support the fans and drivers as race day approaches,” said Greg Scovitch, Turner field engineer.

Work on the $135-million project began in February l999, and is progressing on schedule. Mass excavation is complete, and the infield buildings are 75 percent complete. Work is 25 percent complete on the concourse buildings while the grandstands are half-finished.

“The construction site consists of 1,200 acres, 700 of which will be for parking. Within the 1,200-acre site, we moved 11.5 million cubic yards of soil during our mass excavation phase. We were fortunate to have a balanced site, which means that our cuts equaled our fills. Also, due to the location of the site, we had to relocate a state and city road a total of four miles,” Scovitch said.

The massive project has two superintendents and two main staging areas: suites/grandstands and the bowl/track. Geoff Moore is superintendent for the grandstands, and Doug Hildenbrand is the site superintendent for the facility’s bowl. Jeffrey Werthman, project manager, and Douglas Attebery, project engineer, are spearheading the project team. Four engineers also are working in the field.

Approximately 300 to 350 crew members are on site, continuing construction of the suites and grandstand, working on infield and concourse buildings, pouring asphalt on site roads and parking, installing site utilities (water, power and communications), and starting concrete flat work. In all, the project totals 60,000 cu. yds. (45,000 cu m). Currently, crews also are preparing the track for asphalt.

According to Scovitch, “The pavement will consist of 6.5 inches of asphalt that will be applied in two 2.5- inch lifts and one 1.5-inch lifts, which will be a high-density polymer mix. Also, we will be using blast furnace slag in lieu of limestone aggregate.”

Scovitch added that NASCAR drivers will run the surface between lifts, testing the track and giving feedback.

The track is 55 ft. (16.7 m) wide from the base of the outer wall to the inner loop. Its width accommodates three or four cars in the front and back stretches and one or two cars at the turns. Contractors are challenged by turns on the outer and inner loops. With 15-degree banking on each turn, scrapers dump their loads at the bottom, and dozers push the load to the top. Graders have a slight reprieve on the back stretch, where banking is only 5 degrees, and it is 10 degrees on the front stretch.

Earthmoving is key to the project. Before grandstands and garages went up, contractors moved 11.5 million cubic yards (8,740,000 cu m) of earth. To put this in perspective, Kansas City’s Truman Sports Complex, which consists of Arrowhead Stadium (home of the Chiefs) and Kauffman Stadium (home of the Royals), could be filled with 2.5 million cu. yds. (1.9 million cu m) of earth.

“We averaged about 1 million cubic yards of fill per month and in one 24-hour period moved 100,000 cubic yards at the site … Morrison Knudsen, a major earthwork company, worked six days a week, 20 hours a day. They came in and knocked our socks off with the amount of earth they moved in the amount of time,” Scovitch said.

During the earthmoving operation, equipment — lined up side by side — reached .5 mi. (.8 km), according to Scovitch, who added, It’s amazing how a site as big as this one can get really small really quick.”

With mass excavation complete, Turner is focusing on completing the track. There is a stockpile of sandstone on site for Apac to place on the track. Recyclers are hooked to water trucks to create the treated cement — a mix of water, cement and sandstone. With a base of sandstone and thin layer of cement, rollers hit the material twice, and it compacts. According to Scovitch, the sandstone material also drains wonderfully.

Crews also are working on the grandstand, completing concrete seating. A 138.6-ft. (42 m) Schwing concrete pump truck is using material from two on-site batch plants. A sampling of equipment used on the project includes the following: two Caterpillar Dl l bulldozers, five Caterpillar D10 bulldozers, seven Caterpillar 651 pan scrapers, 15 Caterpillar 631 pan scrapers, two Komatsu 750 track excavators, two Link Belt 100-ton (90 t) track cranes, and one Demag 200-ton (180 t) rubber tire crane.

At the beginning of the project, contractors used mobile cranes to go into remote areas and drop electric boxes. Earthmoving equipment was used to transform a terrain characterized by rolling hills, trees, and more than 160 properties to a state-of-the-art track with fan and driver amenities.

Coordinating construction and making the site safe are Turner’s top priorities. Contractors participate in weekly safety meetings. Scheduling is also critical to staying on or ahead of schedule. According to Scovitch, Turner asks each contractor, where are you going to be? Do we need to move anything? Turner deals directly with the prime contractor. However, this requires careful coordination since there are 20 bid packages for the project (all major bid packages are out or have been awarded).

Project contractors include the following: Morrison Knudsen (mass excavation), Leavcon (grandstand structural), All Star Bleachers (grandstands), Garney (sanitary sewer), Rodriquez Mechanical (underground utilities), Baker Smith (suite siding), Building Erection (suite curtain wall), Cornell (suite roofing), KC Heritage (suite interior), Thyssen-Dover (suite and elevator), Capital Electric (site electric), Bratton (miscellaneous steel), Apac (asphalt paved surfaces), George Shaw (structural concrete and concrete paved surface), Muehlberger (on-grade seating), Allied/U.S.E. (concourse buildings), D.E.L.L./Schweiger (infield and miscellaneous buildings), and Hermes Landscaping (landscaping). HNTB served as architect/engineer and brought in DLR Group.

The design allows for expansion, with long range plans of building a mirror image of the grandstands on the opposite side of the track.

“The possibility for expansion is likely — provided the Kansas Speedway Corporation gets the reception from the fans that they anticipate,” Scovitch said.

All indicators are that race fans will flock to the new Kansas Speedway. The 700 acres (480 hectares) used for parking will accommodate close to 65,000 cars. The track should be a popular weekend destination with NASCAR’s 2001 schedule of the Bush series on Saturdays and Winston Cup series on Sundays.

Turner is no stranger to high profile projects. Broncos’ fans should note that Turner’s Kansas City and Denver offices worked on the Broncos’ stadium. Now, the checkered flag will soon be raised on construction of the Kansas Speedway. Other Turner projects in the area include constructing a convention center and Sheraton hotel in Overland Park, KS, just in time for thousands of NASCAR fans.

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