An ambitious plan to significantly improve Main Street is being carried out in “The Greatest City in Utah.” In June 2015, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) began the full pavement reconstruction of Tooele City’s SR 36 from 3 O’clock Drive to 1280 North, and pavement rehabilitation from 1280 North to Stansbury Parkway. The work will result in a stronger road and upgraded utilities.
“As the primary corridor through Tooele, this project replaces aging roadway infrastructure and mitigates flooding issues with the new drainage system,” said Jessica Rice, UDOT project manager. “This roadway reconstruction project will be vital to the economic growth of the community for years to come.”
In overseeing the construction, UDOT teamed with Lochner, a Chicago-based company recognized for its expertise in highway and roadway design.
“Main Street from 3 O’clock Drive to 1280 North has had the asphalt pavement replaced many times over the years, but the subgrade supporting the roadway had not been replaced since the road was originally constructed beginning in the 1920’s,” explained Lochner public involvement manager Carlye Sommers. “With time, and the increase of truck traffic, the subgrade began to break down and led to cracks and potholes within the asphalt.”
Founded in 1853, Tooele City has undergone several transformations as a community. As the city has grown, the amount of traffic, understandably, has increased. For many years, providing rotomills and overlays controlled the wear and tear, but as time has gone by, the subgrade has been damaged to the point that a full reconstruction was needed to provide a safe road for the future.
There are actually two projects involved. The first stretches from 3 O’clock Drive to 2000 North, while the second runs from 2000 north to Stansbury Parkway. Work focusing on 3 O’clock Drive to 1280 North involves the removal and replacement of the entire pavement section, along with the installation of a new storm drain, replacement of deficient curb, gutter and sidewalk. Pedestrian ramps are being upgraded to meet ADA standards and utility work has been carried out to accommodate roadwork.
Work on 1280 North to 2000 North called for removing and replacing a top section of pavement, along with installing curb and gutter on the east side of the road and making drainage improvements. The completed resurfacing work on 2000 North to Stansbury Parkway had crews on site through mid-October performing signing and striping. The work did not affect traffic.
UDOT determined the subgrade from 1280 North to Stansbury Parkway was acceptable, and did not need to be rebuilt. Instead, officials decided to perform a rotomill and overlay for this section. The rotomill and overlay replaces the top three inches of asphalt. This layer receives the most daily abuse from traffic, and by replacing it, UDOT can protect the subgrade and provide a smoother surface for the traveling public.
Until now, there also was no storm drain system for SR 36, which caused major headaches in the area.
“Water would simply flow down the curb and gutter until it reached an opening, which resulted in flooded driveways and cross streets all along the corridor,” Sommers stated. “This caused problems for the local residents, businesses and the Tooele City public works department. UDOT understood that this was a safety concern that needed to be addressed and could not be achieved without the full reconstruction work.”
Sommers also said rebuilding in multiple locations allows construction to be finished sooner, rather than later.
“UDOT has learned from public opinion surveys that people would prefer we get work done as quickly as possible, even if that means it’s more inconvenient. So they allowed the contractor, American Civil Constructors, to work in multiple sections of the project in order to expedite work. Now is a good time, because we’re able to rebuild the roadway before the pavement deteriorated. If we had waited, the roadway would have experienced large cracks and potholes that would become safety issues for the traveling public. We were also able to accelerate the design phase and advertise the project in spring of 2015, which allowed us to construct the majority of the project before the end of 2015.”
The improvements will benefit residents of Rush Valley, Tooele City, Grantsville City and Tooele County. Tooele’s Main Street is the major artery for the community and the Tooele Valley.
Tooele City Public Works Director Jim Bolser remarked, “It’s the only corridor that extends all the way through the community, and it is the only continuous corridor to extend through the Tooele Valley from north to south. Needless to say, it’s an indispensable roadway for the transportation and commerce of the city, the valley, the county and the region as a whole.”
SR 36 is the main north/south corridor in Tooele City, with ongoing construction affecting every citizen. There also are more than 200 businesses located within the work zone. Throughout construction, crews have limited SR 36 — usually a five-lane roadway — to one lane in each direction, and had intermittent cross street closures. With no other north/south route available to detour to, closing SR 36 during construction was not feasible. The reduced capacity on SR 36 has caused delays, but through public outreach UDOT has encouraged drivers to seek alternate routes and avoid peak travel times, which has greatly improved the flow of traffic through the work zone.
With temperatures dropping, colder weather also is a concern.
“Our eyes are always to the sky as we approach winter,” said Sommers. “While we anticipate we’ll complete all paving by late November, we have a contingency plan in place, should the snow fly early. If needed, we’ll place temporary pavement so that we can reopen the road to five lanes and resume our project in spring.”
Sommers said a good deal of construction has already been performed.
“Crews have completed the storm drain mainline placement, the subgrade reconstruction and the first pass of paving on the east side of the road from 520 South to 1280 North. In November, we’ll place curb and gutter on the west side from 700 North to 520 South. We’ll then complete the first pass of paving and then the final top lift of asphalt.
“Through November and December, we’ll complete driveway tie-ins and pour sidewalk and restore landscaping. We anticipate we’ll have all reconstruction and resurfacing work complete by December 31, 2015, with the exception of 850 South to 520 South, which has a gas line conflict. We may also have landscaping work that will need to be completed in spring of 2016.”
Work involving the storm drain placement included excavation, pipe placement, catch basin and manhole installation and backfill. Crews also placed loops and relocated utilities to avoid conflicts with the new storm drain line. They’ve also added a new parallel sewer line to catch sewer laterals that would have been in conflict. The new storm drain runs the entire length of the project, with new truck line running down the center of the road and laterals running water from inlets at the curb and gutter to the trunk line. The storm drainpipe varies in size from 18 to 48 in. (45.7 to 121.9 cm).
Utility work included waterline loops, gas line loops, new UDOT ATMS and new Beehive fiber optic. Crews also made betterments to the gas lines and CenturyLink fiber optic. The team relocated portions of Rocky Mountain Power lines and Comcast fiber optics and installed the new parallel sewer line. The majority of the utility work was done to accommodate the storm drain installation.
Work on the waterline project from Old Canyon Road to 600 North began in April 2015, and was completed in July 2015. Crews had to replace the more than 30-year-old 12 in. (30.4 cm) diameter water main, as well as lower the pipe elevation, since the old pipe was buried shallow enough that it would likely be damaged or exposed through the Main Street construction. It would also have been susceptible to freezing conditions in the winter. This required transferring hundreds of homes and businesses to the new line, as well as completing mainline tie-ins at and across every intersection, including the installation and relocation of several pressure reducing vaults along the mainline to ensure adequate and proper water pressure throughout the community.
With the age of the community and its infrastructure, there were numerous previously unknown utility lines discovered that had to be dealt with or avoided. Prior to the asphalt roadway being installed decades ago, Main Street was a reinforced concrete road that remained under the asphalt that had to be cut through to install the waterline. Additionally, while the Anaconda mine and smelter above town was operational, there was a railroad that ran down Vine Street. The extra thick, old concrete bedding for the rail line also remained under the road that had to be taken out for the waterline trench to be extended through the intersection. The project also required political and financial support.
The various tasks have not been easy to carry out, but UDOT’s mission has remained clear.
“We’ve worked through the challenges of maintaining access for businesses and pedestrians, while allowing our contractor room to construct the improvements,” said Sommers. “The trickiest and most time-consuming part of this job has been the storm drain installation and the utility work. Our storm drain installation encountered some unknown utility lines. The conflict required additional work by our team, which delayed the storm drain installation by approximately three weeks. Our contractor was able to bring in additional crews and we were able to make up most of the time lost due to these unknown conflicts.”
Some of the materials being used during construction have included 41,183 cu. yds. (31,486 cu m) of granular borrow, 28,205 cu. yds. (21,564 cu m) of untreated base course and 67,193 tons (60,956 t) of hot mix asphalt. Heavy machinery also plays a key role.
According to American Civil Constructors project manager Brett John, “One of the biggest changes in equipment is the use of fully-integrated GPS controls. This project was built from start to finish using Trimble GPS machine control. This allowed us to cut and fill the grade very quickly to exactly the proper grade. It prevented overrun on imported structural products like granular borrow and road base, and prevented removing more roadway excavation than required. We utilized Caterpillar 140M and Caterpillar D6K XL equipment for grade control, and loaded out nearly 300,000 tons (272,155 t) of roadway excavation and concrete using Caterpillar 324 excavators and Caterpillar 950K loaders.”
For Jared Hamner, the executive director of the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce, the construction can’t be completed soon enough.
“The road was in poor shape, and more than 30 percent of the traffic is truck and trailer and box truck. As the only road to get in and out of Tooele City, it was badly needed for a long time. Our school children cross this road every day, while using an orange flag to do so. There have been some close calls and, unfortunately, many children have been hurt, so we are very excited to see it finally coming together.”
Hamner said the economic impact also couldn’t be overstated.
“It has really been a tough downturn for the businesses on Main Street. It’s hard to understand unless you have owned and operated a business. But they are excited to see its completion, and get back to serving the community as they have so well.”