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With New U.S. 360 Bridge Open, Contractors Begin Demolition

Tue July 19, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Key Construction Company Inc. is nearing the half-way point on its contract for improvements on U.S. 360 in Halifax County from Route 58 to just north of Route 34 at Hodges Street.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) awarded the contract worth $24.4 million to Clarksville, VA-based Key Construction in 2003. Included in the contract, which has an estimated completion date of August 2007, are twin bridges for the John Randolph Bridge crossing and a bridge being built on Vaughan Street over U.S. 360. Gemini Drilling and Foundation LLC, of Kernersville, NC, is the drill shaft subcontractor on the project.

The 1.17-mi. (1.88 km) project is divided into two phases with Phase I, which included the first of the twin bridges, completed June 7 and Phase II now under way. The twin bridges will be approximately 2,145 ft. (654 m) long each and will have two lanes of travel apiece that will carry traffic over the Dan River and Norfolk Southern Railroad.

The two new bridges will replace a bridge that was built in the 1950s. The demolition subcontractor, Joseph B. Fay Company, of Russellton, PA, will demolish and completely remove the old bridge, from which the steel will be recycled.

Since completion of Phase I, traffic has been rerouted onto the new bridge so that the old bridge can be removed.

“We put traffic on one bridge, and we are approximately 5 percent ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Roger Hubble, general superintendent of the structures division at Key Construction. He also confirmed, “two-thirds of the old structure has been demolished and clean-up is under way.”

The contract also called for the installation of Kansas Corral railing, a cast-in-place concrete railing, on the new bridges. Hubble explained that the railing “meets all safety requirements, and it is pretty to look at.”

VDOT’s Zack Weddle, assistant residency administrator for the Halifax district, said that prior to the contract being advertised, VDOT does test borings at the job site to get soil samples.

“We have an idea of the soil prior to construction,” Weddle maintained.

Even so, contractors have to be ready for anything.

“Of course you have sand, rock, you have just a variety of things,” Hubble said. “You don’t know until you drill.”

That is when a specialized subcontractor, like Gemini Drilling and Foundation, which is working on the drill shafts for the bridges, makes all the difference. According to Hubble, Gemini has done a “fantastic job on Phase I, and they [were] to start their portion of Phase II on July 18.”

Gemini will be drilling a total of 48 holes 60 to 80 ft. (18 to 24 m) deep for the bridges. Twenty-four were completed in Phase I, and the remaining holes will be drilled in Phase II. The contract also calls for 78- to 84-in. diameter (198 to 213 cm) caissons.

Gemini rented ICE vibratory hammers during Phase I construction to drive in temporary field caissons. A Terex American HC210 crane with a 150-ft. (46 m) boom was on hand for support and service for the ICE equipment.

“We own two of the largest American-made drill rigs,” said Jeff Humphreys, district superintendent of Gemini; the Watson 3400 rigs weigh 170,000 lbs. (77,100 kg) each and are being used on the project. During Phase II, Gemini also plans to use a Manitowoc 4100 200-ton (180 t) crawler crane as a service crane.

Regarding Gemini’s role at the job site, Hubble said, “They take it to the top of the ground, and we take it above the ground.”

Key will be performing the substructure and superstructure work on the bridges, which are made of structural steel with concrete columns, piers and deck.

This contract is the last section of U.S. 360 to be widened to four lanes between Danville and Richmond in Halifax County.

“[Since] this section of 360 was the only two-lane section between Danville and Richmond, combined with the fact of the age of the bridge,” explained Weddle, “it was more cost effective to tear it down and build another.”

In addition, the finished project will improve safety and increase capacity on U.S. 360. CEG

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