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Utilities Hinder Efforts of DOT Crews in Jefferson County

Wed March 08, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Cindy Riley


Department of Transportation crews in Jefferson County, AL, are dealing with a major delay as they widen Alabama 75 from Center Point to Pinson, just outside Birmingham. Based on an increasing traffic flow, the project involves expanding the roadway from two to five lanes. Work began in June of 1998 and most likely won’t be completed until December, 2000.

“The main problem with this job is that the utilities are in the way. You have to relocate power, telephone, sewer and water. On this particular project, they had to buy additional right-of-way, so all the lines had to be moved. We’re still having a big problem in this respect. It’s complicated because Jefferson County sanitary sewer was unable to get an easement from private property owners in the area. They’ve had to redesign and try to find a new place for the sewer lines.”

In addition to widening the lanes, the plans call for excavation work, more drain work and new pavement and resurfacing. The installation of new traffic signals involves setting up new poles to align the signals with the approach.

“The total cost for this job is over seven million dollars,” said David Hand, assistant division construction engineer with the Alabama Department of Transportation.

“It involves a large amount of excavation. We’re talking about 270,000 cubic yards, to be exact,” he said.

The general contractor for the project is Henderson Excavation. According to owner Randall Henderson, “We’re using two track-type backhoes [a Caterpillar 330 and a Komatsu 300], as well as three Caterpillar bulldozers [D6, D5, and D3]. We also have been utilizing an International 510 rubber tire loader and a fleet of dump trucks. Right now about half the area has been graded and paved.”

“The road bed must be graded to all the proper elevations,” explained project engineer John Murray.

“You have a profile grade given in the set of plans that you must follow. Also, the drainage structure must be completed. You have to get your additional inlets for storm drains, and the pipes must be in place. There is a massive amount of pipe on this job. For example, we’ll use more than 600 linear feet of 48-inch pipe, and that’s just one size.”

The workers’ safety is also a big concern. More than 700 channeling drums have been placed along the road to keep drivers in the existing travel way. All work is being done during the day.

“We’re not really running into any major traffic problems so far. We hope that will continue to be the case, although we are dealing with a fairly steady stream of cars and other vehicles,” added Murray.

“We’ve got a lot of folks committed to this project,” said Murray. “The work itself is not terribly complicated. A lot of it is pretty routine, but when you’re dealing with the amount of dirt to be moved and you’ve got the utility complications, it can be time consuming. It’s something you have to accept,” he said.




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