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Two Contractors Join Forces for Lithonia Industrial Blvd. Project

Tue March 29, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Jeff Cronin



To the north, there’s E.R. Snell Contractor of Snellville, GA.

To the south, it’s Shepherd Construction Co. of Atlanta.

And in the middle, making sure the Lithonia Industrial Boulevard project is running smoothly, is Project Engineer Christina Rooney.

The two contractors submitted a joint contract because of the scope of the $49-million road project in DeKalb County that will extend Lithonia Industrial Boulevard, relocate Interstate 20 entrance and exit ramps and realign eastbound and westbound Frontage Road.

Also, I-20 is being resurfaced from west of Fairington Road to Turner Hill Road.

In the end, the project should move some of the traffic from the side roads onto the interstate, as it will provide more ways for drivers to get onto I-20.

Rooney, who on the job site is employed by both contractors, acts as a liaison between the two contractors, all the subcontractors and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).

But it doesn’t always seem like she’s working for a boss with two heads.

“Both Shepherd and Snell are family-owned companies and they’ve worked together over the years,” she said.

The contractors teamed up in the past to build the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstate 85.

At the job site, it’s almost like there’s two different projects going on right next to one another. Snell is in charge of all of the work to the eastbound lanes of I-20 and all the work to the north. Shepherd, in turn, works on the westbound lanes and everything to the south.

The contractors also draw their material from two different quarries — Hanson and Vulcan.

“Because there’s two companies, everything has to be coordinated,” Rooney said.

In addition to the two lead contractors, Rogers Bridge Company has come in to construct five of the 11 bridges throughout the 4.2-mi. (6.8 km) project. Snell led the way on the remaining six. Rooney said 14 subcontractors, including Rogers, also have completed tasks on the job site.

To coordinate what everyone is doing, GDOT holds a weekly meeting.

For the eastbound Frontage Road, Rooney said crews had to bring in 45,000 cu. yds. (34,400 cu m) of shot rock embankment because it runs over the edge of Stewart Lake. The larger rock, held in place with a special polyethylene fabric and covered over with fill, will better stabilize the new roadway, Rooney said.

Crews also lugged in approximately 167,000 tons (152,000 t) of grated aggregate base.

Approximately 948,000 tons (860,000 t) of dirt was brought onto the site from neighboring properties.

Shepherd crews ran six scrapers for four months to move the dirt to build the eastbound Frontage Road — three Cat 621Fs, which they own, and three rented Cat 621Gs.

Rooney said they completely leveled a hill at a nearby church, but the land looks like it had always been at grade with the parking lot.

Other equipment on site includes Cat D9-H and D8-L dozers and a D8-N ripper to remove rock.

“We have hit a lot of rock during construction, which we expected being so close to the quarries,” Rooney said.

The Snell crews used equipment such as a Hitachi 750 excavator, a John Deere 550 excavator, a Cat D8-R ripper, Volvo 835 articulated trucks, a Komatsu HD 325 dump truck and several other smaller excavators and dozers.

In addition to coordinating the lead contractors’ efforts and dealing with swampy terrain, Rooney said the crews’ greatest challenge has been maintaining the flow of traffic on I-20. Three lanes have been open in each direction for the entire project, sometimes more narrow than normal, causing speed limit reductions from 65 mph to 55 mph.

Terrence Eaddy, GDOT construction project manager, said the project is approximately 68 percent complete and approximately 75 percent of the budget has been spent.

Crews are on target to wrap everything up by February 2006.

Workers still have to complete the bridges, although Eaddy said there’s only one on which they have yet to perform work on the superstructure, and repave I-20.