Weaver-Bailey Keeping Busy in Arkansas

Fri April 10, 2009 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni




The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (AHTD) is keeping El Paso, Ark.-based Weaver-Bailey Contractors Inc. active on two projects through May 2011. AHTD awarded Weaver-Bailey two contracts for road work: one is building the Grady Bypass in the town of Grady, and the other is phase one work on the I-630/I-430 Interchange in Little Rock.

The Grady Bypass contract will be completed first and is part of the Highway 65 relocation and improvement program. The $13 million contract was awarded March 2008 and has a completion date of September 2009, though the contractor said they will probably finish by early summer.

James House, district engineer of AHTD’s District 2, which covers Pine Bluff and Lincoln County, said this contract is part of the Highway 65 improvements that are occurring across the state on this heavily-traveled and popular roadway.

“It’s part of Highway 65 improvement from Pine Bluff to the Arkansas State line,” House explained.

The work zone is a total of 3.96 mi. (6.37 km) and extends from North Grady to South Grady. Just north of Grady the road is four-lane divided then through the town of Grady, Highway 65 narrows to two lanes. When the contract is completed, the relocated highway will be four lanes divided, separated by an open median, and it will bypass the town. On the other side of the project, said House, the new road “connects to another job that also is four-lane divided.”

Earthwork and drainage work were finished as part of a separate contract prior to Weaver-Bailey’s work. AHTD encourages separating contracts like the earthwork from the roadwork because they will pay the going price of the materials as opposed to the predicted price.

Right now, workers are making tie-ins to the existing roads and moving traffic to the finished sections. Don Weaver, vice president of Weaver-Bailey, stated that workers have “finished the new roadway and are making transitions from the new road to the old road.”

House confirmed, “They will have quite a bit of tie-in work to do at other state highway intersections. … It’s done in stages.”

The contractor used 114,966 sq. yds. (96,126 sq m) of concrete for the surface of the now-finished road. Weaver stated that concrete was used because it was the low bid. The material used for the road surface is determined by the bid that AHTD accepts.

“Bid two types of pavement against each other, and may the best man win,” Weaver said. Asphalt shoulder work also is under way. There will be 10-ft. shoulders on the outside of the road and 5-ft. shoulders on the inside.

Weaver-Bailey uses “100 percent GOMACO Pavers,” according to Weaver. They own 15 pieces of GOMACO equipment from curb and gutter equipment to fine graders, placers, and texture/cure machines. Weaver specifically mentioned that his company is using a “GOMACO 9500 operated off a GPS receiver, a Topcon millimeter system — stringless.”

Adding the GPS equipment costs roughly $125,000 for each paver, he said.

On the other AHTD contract, Weaver-Bailey also will be using Gomaco pavers. The $17.3 million contract covers improvements to the I-630/I-430 Interchange in Little Rock. The work is considered Phase One of the Interchange improvement project, and it consists of widening I-430 through the interchange area, including adding a second lane to a ramp carrying traffic from westbound I-630 to northbound I-430. Going west on I-630 a lane will be added at the end to allow traffic to travel north on I-430. Work began in January on the project, which is about 1.8 mi. (2.9 km) long, and has an estimated completion date of May 2011.

The I-630/I-430 Interchange improvement contract also includes Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) work, inlets for drainage, retaining and barrier walls, and signals and illumination. Work on traffic lights will occur at four intersections.

In addition, the contractor will make improvements to city streets and intersections, including easier access to South Shackleford Road and Financial Centre Parkway from I-430 south; signalization, widening and an exit ramp at Hermitage Road and Financial Centre Parkway; and relocation of exit ramp I-430 southbound to Shackleford Road to tie in at Hermitage Road.

Currently, the contractor has finished smoothing down rumble strips along I-630 westbound near the onramp for I-430 north and has placed concrete patches over them to create a travel lane. Weaver-Bailey has started the construction of the main part of the job, which is the pavement widening, and has closed each inside lane of I-430 for almost 2 mi. (3.22 km) in order to proceed. Drainage and widening work also is under way in the median, while work on the slip form concrete barrier walls is progressing. Weaver estimated that his company will bring in around 20,000 cu. yds. (15,200 cm) of concrete.

The job poses some difficulty because the project site is restrictive and limits the size and number of pieces of equipment that can be brought in. The contractor also is limited to working in the area of the closed lanes behind precast barrier walls, which have been set up for the length of the project.

“The excavation and drainage is done with trackhoes because of the location,” Weaver explained. “We have 12 Link-Belt trackhoes all shapes and sizes according to the task.”

Furthermore, traffic can be a challenge when earthwork and materials have to be hauled on and hauled off the site. Special care is taken when trucks are constantly entering and exiting the work site. “I call it ’dental work’ because it is a small enclosed area,” Weaver joked.

The contractor is using concrete saws with large diameter blades to saw off the old pavement for the entire length of the job. According to Brian Wright, district engineer for AHTD’s District 6 in Little Rock, the old pavement is probably 10 in. (25.4 cm) thick; whereas, the new pavement will be 13 in. (33.02 cm) thick.

“We are making a neat edge,” Weaver stated, “and we have 15 concrete saws.”

The manufacturers of the saws being used include Magnum, Sanders, Target, and Slimline. Weaver believes that they are using saws made by companies that are not in business anymore.

Additional equipment being used on the project includes a 150-ton (135 t) crane brought in by the lighting subcontractor, Construction Management & Maintenance of North Little Rock. The sub is installing 150-ft. (45.72 m) tall light poles.

“The height — fifteen story light poles — takes a big crane,” Weaver explained.

The need for this project is clear when Weaver elaborates on the reasons for it.

“Interstate 630 stops at a traffic light — one of few interstates in the country that stops at a traffic light.”

Eventually, that traffic light will no longer exist. There also will be major bridgework in the future, but Weaver-Bailey will not bid for that contract.

“We do not do bridge work,” Weaver stated. “We stay horizontal — on the ground.”

The number of phases of construction for the I-630/I-430 Interchange improvement project has not been determined. What is known is that the cost, in the end, could be upward of $130 million.

“It will be massive,” Wright exclaimed.

Weaver-Bailey Contractors has been in business since 1960. The bulk of its work comes from AHTD. For more information, visit www.weaverbailey.com. CEG