Tag Archive for 'highways'

Intelligent Compaction is the Key

By Jeff Winke

Long-lasting, Durable Surfaces Result From Quality Compaction

The most elemental meaning of the word “compaction,” is the exertion of force on something so that it becomes more dense.

In the realm of road construction, compaction is considered one of the most important processes in pavement and roadway surface construction. It is necessary in order to attain high quality and uniformity of pavement materials, which in turn better ensures the long-lasting performance of the road. 

It has been more than a few years since the term and method of “intelligent compaction” (IC) has become a given in discusions of paving. Today, it has become the norm – compaction is pretty much considered intelligent compaction.

IC refers to the compaction of road materials, such as soils, aggregate bases, or asphalt pavement materials, using modern vibratory rollers equipped with an integrated measurement system, an onboard computer reporting system, Global Positioning System (GPS) based mapping, and optional feedback control. IC rollers facilitate real-time compaction monitoring and timely adjustments to the compaction process by integrating measurement, documentation, and control systems. IC rollers also maintain a continuous record of color-coded plots, allowing the user to view plots of the precise location of the roller, the number of roller passes, and material stiffness measurements.

“Operators have told me that intelligent compaction takes the guessing game out of their rolling pattern,” said Daniel F. Brown, President of Phend & Brown, Inc., Milford, Indiana. “They no longer need to remember which utility power pole or mailbox they started or stopped at with their rolling pattern. Additionally, uniform pass coverage is assured because pass coverage is being measured and documented.”

The Background on IC

Back in 2011, the Federal Highway Association (FHWA) reported on a major three-year research project that was designed to verify that IC, which at the time had been considered “emerging technology,” was mature enough to be implemented in the real world. The intent of the project was to create the blueprint in the FHWA IC strategic plan. This study was under the Transportation Pooled Fund project, which included 12 participating state department of transportation: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The report’s Executive Summary states that the project “demonstrated tried-and-true Intelligent Compaction (IC) technologies through 16 field projects and open house activities, numerous meetings and training for State personnel and local earthwork/paving contractors, and assistance on the development of State IC specifications.”

The IC project’s key conclusions:

  • IC mapping of existing support layers is effective in identifying weak support areas for corrective actions prior to the compaction of the upper layers. 
  • With hot-mix asphalt (HMA) paving, IC tracking compaction roller passes and HMA surface temperatures can provide the necessary means to maintain a consistent rolling pattern within optimal ranges of temperatures for coverage of 100 percent of the construction area. 
  • IC technologies can be especially beneficial to maintain consistent rolling patterns under lower visibility conditions, such as night paving operations.

IC Technology Aids Productivity

IC technology, the report stated, will have profound influence on the responsibilities of various stages of pavement constructions and will eventually help produce better and more consistent pavement products. 

“We are currently running Topcon C-53 IC Systems on two Caterpillar CB-534 D XW Rollers, and two systems on Bomag BW190 AD Rollers,” stated Brown. “At the time of purchase, the C-53, which offers the GX-55 control box, was the newest technology available.

“We like that the technology provides for remote mobile access via Sitelink to allow process balance decisions to be based on real-time data for the entire paver/roller operation, which in turn ensures that optimal production rates and density values are consistently achieved.” 

Topcon Positioning Systems offers an IC system that is designed to track pass counts of multiple rollers or IC machines working on the same project. Through secure connectivity to Topcon’s global Sitelink3D service, each compactor not only performs its tasks, but also becomes part of the overall monitored project. 

“Each operator is not only able to see their own passes, but those made by other machines on-screen in real time,” Brown said. “And in real time, the paving superintendant, foreman, and general contractor personnel can also see what exactly is going on via the Sitelink platform. This ensures proper compaction from each machine and eliminates redundancy.” 

The IC system is designed to:

  • Leverage multiple integrated temperature sensors, so each compactor can achieve consistent results through constant feedback into the system.
  • Provide accurate pass counts, geographic locations of each run, as well as georeferenced task assignments and their completion via its GNSS technology.
  • Ensure that regulatory IC standards are being met by documenting surface stiffness values through its accelerometer.
  • Connect to the Sitelink3D Enterprise service which provides 24/7 access to project data, team collaboration, custom reporting, as well as standard export to Veta management and analysis software, which can provide additional customized information. 
  • Provide data to demonstrate specification compliance and confirm proper density claims.

“We’re using the Topcon C-53 IC System with a GX-75 control box on our 850 Series Sakai Oscillation/Vibration Paving Roller, which allows the machine operator to monitor the compaction pattern and the temperature as they’re working,” stated Sergio Muniz, Paving Superintendent with Payne & Dolan, Inc., Waukesha, Wisconsin, who acquired the system working through his local Topcon Solutions Store. “I like that I can jump onto my laptop and see the work being completed in real time and make certain we’re complying with the tough DOT state specifications.”

Muniz added: “We’re finding the Topcon system to be essential for our high-profile big jobs to ensure we remain on task and is instrumental for when we work at night. It also is proving handy for smaller parking-lot-type jobs as well.”

The key benefit of IC is greater control over the compaction results, which in turn provides better finished paved results. Compaction at its most elemental is the exertion of force on something so that it becomes more dense, while IC provides the technological means to ensure that compaction is performed consistently, thoroughly, and accurately. The goal is to achieve optimum densities that ensure adequate support, stability, and strength. Achieving these densities uniformly is key, and clearly IC aids this process.

This feature appeared in the January 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

TRIP’s Rocky Moretti Speaks with ATM About the Country’s Slumping Transportation Infrastructure

Listen to the 7-minute podcast

In February 2018, the White House released President Donald J. Trump’s infrastructure principles and initiative with this quote from the president: “We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land. And we will do it with American heart, and American hands, and American grit.”

But almost two years later, the American public, and the business and labor sectors are still waiting for these shining words to become reality.

Every day, Rocky Moretti lives why this message carries so much meaning. As Director of Policy & Research for the national transportation research nonprofit TRIP, he examines data and information and writes, edits and presents reports that illuminate the deteriorating state of regional and U.S. transportation infrastructure — all toward the goal of promoting sound public transportation policy.

The newest “ATM Podcast,” for the Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition, features Moretti’s take on topics like quality of life and economic productivity, safety and congestion, bettering mobility, and America’s substantial transportation infrastructure funding gap. He also provides some insight into current transportation infrastructure challenges in Arizona, Ohio and Wisconsin.

In the last few years, Moretti has gone to Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina and Texas to release reports on their transportation systems.

Sign our petition at http://bit.ly/2rk7EZl and share this story with your friends on social media.

Prefabricated Modular Steel Bridges Provide Rapid, Reliable Solution to Restore Infrastructure in the Wake of Disasters

By Eugene Sobecki, Director National Sales and Military Business Development, Acrow Bridge

Transportation infrastructure is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters, and climate change is expected to intensify future risks. Events such as hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires can disrupt accessibility to essential services such as education or healthcare and create business interruptions or delays that can cause long-term economic impact. Aside from natural disasters, transportation is also susceptible to man-made events such as accidents or terrorist attacks. 

In the aftermath of any significant disaster, it is the transportation infrastructure that underpins the restoration of all critical infrastructure components. When creating and restoring transportation lifelines quickly is crucial, prefabricated modular steel bridging can provide an ideal solution. 

For emergency applications, modular bridges have a number of distinct advantages over more traditional bridge types. Manufacturers have inventory of prefabricated components along with a supply network which allows for fast turnaround of materials. Damaged roads may make transporting heavy construction machinery, a prefabricated concrete structure or the length of a long steel beam structure unsafe or impossible. In contrast, modular steel bridging components can be transported in compact, easily maneuverable trucks and installed with minimal construction equipment. Modular steel structures can often be installed in extremely tight work areas, which may have resulted from the precipitating event. Finally, the speed to erect a modular steel span of any length can be counted in days or weeks rather than months or years. 

Every project comes with unique challenges, including the following modular bridge examples.

I-95 Oil Tanker Accident, Bridgeport, Connecticut

In March 2004, a tanker truck was involved in an accident on an elevated portion of the highway, which resulted in an explosion of some of the 9,000 gallons of heating fuel it carried. Both directions of the route in the vicinity were closed immediately and early reports indicated it would be weeks before the southbound overpass could open to traffic on the busiest highway in the Northeast and the major commercial route from Boston to New York. 

While overpass supports in both directions were damaged, inspection of the northbound bridge indicated it could be secured with reinforcing piers and it was re-opened to traffic in three days. The southbound bridge was not salvageable; it was immediately demolished, and after considering many options, it was decided to use a modular bridge as a detour during reconstruction.

Two days after the accident, workers began to construct the foundation and pour the concrete footings for the temporary bridge. The bridge was installed, paved and three lanes reopened to traffic less than a week after the crash.

I-10 Twin Span Bridge Hurricane Damage, Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

Just 11 days after Hurricane Katrina hit the region in late August 2005, competitive bids were requested to restore passage on the heavily damaged twin spans of Interstate 10, a major artery connecting New Orleans and Slidell. 

Upon inspection, the eastbound span was found to have the least number of damaged segments, so it was repaired with undamaged segments from the westbound side. Limited passage was restored within two weeks, more than two weeks ahead of schedule.

With much of the westbound span missing segments from the initial storm damage or used to repair the eastbound route, prefabricated modular steel components were utilized to provide another rapid solution to getting residents back to normal. The bridge was opened to traffic in late December, once again ahead of schedule.

US Route 85 Overpass Collapse, Lusk, Wyoming

In early June 2015, heavy rains caused the flooding of the Niobrara River which led to the collapse of an overpass on U.S. Route 85 onto railroad tracks below, creating an immediate stop to the passage of Union Pacific Railroad freight trains as well as vehicular traffic on the highway, which is the main artery from both Interstates 80 and 25.

U.S. 85 bridge in Lusk, Wyoming

As Wyoming DOT keeps an inventory of modular bridging components, they were quickly mobilized to the site, while additional components were purchased for the specifications of this very long span. The bridge was opened on July 25, 2015, restoring freight service and vehicular access.

Skagit River Bridge Collapse, Burlington, Washington

When an over-height tractor-trailer hit the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Burlington, Washington, in May 2013, the impact caused an entire 160-foot-long segment to plunge into the water, along with the truck and two cars. 

I-5 Skagit River Bridge in Burlington, Washington

Fortunately, there was no loss of life, but the financial impact caused by the loss of the vital crossing illustrated the need for a swift solution, and it was determined the installation of a detour structure was critical until repairs could be made to the damaged bridge.  

Two 24-foot-wide by 160-foot-span bridges were designed and installed and formally opened just 24 days after the collapse; they remained in place for four months until repairs were completed. 

Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico

In assessing Hurricane Maria’s destruction across Puerto Rico in 2017, it was found that nearly 400 of the 2,344 bridges in the inventory of the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Agency were damaged, with 26 having collapsed outright. Providing survivors with urgently needed supplies and opening up routes for medical care was the first priority, with a larger goal the return to a pre-storm “normal” and reestablishing local commerce.

PR-957 in Palma Sola, Puerto Rico

As many of the impacted structures were in remote, mountainous regions with roads compromised by the storm, transporting materials to the work sites was far less difficult with compact, modular components requiring no heavy machinery for installation.  

The restoration of each crossing immediately allowed for safe passage of relief efforts from federal and state agencies. Children and support staff were able to return to school and employees to jobs. Most importantly, perhaps, each bridge reconnected vulnerable communities and helped countless Puerto Ricans return to routine life.  

Midwest Flooding 

The flooding in the Midwestern United States, beginning in early March 2019, caused devastating long-term damage across six states. In addition to the humanitarian need to restore damaged infrastructure as quickly as possible was the certainty of continued economic losses until mobility was restored. 

U.S. 136 in Rock Port, Missouri

Railroad freight in Rock Port, Missouri, was acutely impacted when a bridge providing the only access for crews to service equipment was closed due to sever scour to the structure’s supports. In order to expedite the restoration of full freight service in the region, a modular steel bridge was “overbridged” inside the existing structure to remove stress. The detour was opened to traffic eight days after the receipt of the order.

In northeast Nebraska, NDOT deemed detours necessary for two projects in the Spencer Dam/Niobrara River area. At each location, residents and first responders had been experiencing lengthy detours due to impassible crossings which would continue until construction was complete on new permanent bridges. Modular steel bridging enabled delivery to the work sites over compromised roads, and rapid design, delivery and installation provided solutions to transportation emergencies. 

U.S. 281 in Spencer, Nebraska

Shipping of components for each project began in early July and the first bridge was opened on July 29, 2019, ahead of schedule. The second bridge opened on schedule on August 13.

Damaged transportation assets represent a sizable portion of economic losses from disasters. Restoring damaged routes quickly can minimize the impact caused by business interruptions and freight inventory delays as well as impacts to the public at large.

Emergency bridging allows a fixed-dollar solution to the project whether rented or purchased; in the case of a purchased structure, it can be easily disassembled and warehoused for later use during planned projects or in an emergency situation.  

There is no doubt that disasters will continue to impact lives across, and the restoration of means of transportation will always be a priority. When disaster strikes, a modular steel bridge should be an option to consider.

This feature appeared in the November issues of the ACP Magazines: California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor,
Western Builder

NAPA Notes Opportunities in FY2020 Appropriations Bill

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) 2019 Chairman John Harper, Senior Vice President of Construction Partners Inc. in Dothan, Alabama, released the following statement after final passage of the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bills:

“With President Donald Trump signing the appropriations passed this week by Congress, the asphalt pavement industry is looking forward to the opportunities that the New Year will bring. We are pleased that Congress has been forward thinking in developing and funding new programs that will have long-term benefits for America’s infrastructure, public safety, and national defense.

“Included in the $48.6 billion in funding appropriated for surface transportation programs, Congress included a new program to make sorely needed improvements to the Appalachian development highway system, support for building out critical commerce corridors to improve safety and speed the transport of goods across the nation, and research programs to expand the use of innovative materials and permeable pavements, including porous asphalt. We’re also looking forward to new innovations that will arise from the new airfield research program and the new Department of Defense program for extending the service life of military roads and airfields.

“Congress has set the stage for a productive 2020 construction season, but now our eyes turn to the future. From the heartland to the coasts, it’s America’s roads that bring us together, so while we’re hard at work building, maintaining, and improving our nation’s infrastructure, we expect Congress to be hard at work crafting a new long-term surface transportation program to replace the expiring FAST Act.”

About the National Asphalt Pavement Association

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) is the only trade association that exclusively represents the interests of the asphalt producer/contractor on the national level with Congress, government agencies, and other national trade and business organizations. NAPA supports an active research program designed to improve the quality of asphalt pavements and paving techniques used in the construction of roads, streets, highways, parking lots, airports, and environmental and recreational facilities. The association provides technical, educational, and marketing materials and information to its members; supplies product information to users and specifiers of paving materials; and conducts training courses. The association, which counts more than 1,100 companies as members, was founded in 1955.

ARTBA on: Final FY 2020 Spending Bill Ready for President’s Signature

By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA

The Senate Dec. 19 passed 71-23 an eight-bill omnibus appropriations package, the next-to-last step to enactment of a full-year FY 2020 transportation spending law. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law before the midnight Dec. 20 expiration of the temporary measure now funding government programs.

The package fully-funds the FAST Act authorized spending for all Highway Trust Fund-supported programs and adds an additional $4.08 billion for surface transportation and airport improvements from the General Fund that were not previously authorized. The supplemental investment includes:

  • $2.17 billion for highways;
  • $400 million for airport capital projects;
  • $510 million for bus and transit program grants; and
  • $1 billion for BUILD (formerly known as TIGER) multi-modal surface transportation discretionary grants.

Full details in the chart below.

The expected enactment of the full fiscal year spending bills marks the first time in five years state departments of transportation will have their full spending authority prior to Jan. 1. The finalization of the appropriations and the repeal of the contract authority rescission in November mark an eventful end of year for federal transportation investment.

With these accomplishments complete, and other non-related major legislation also in the rear-view mirror, there is a clear path for Congress to tackle bipartisan measures post-impeachment.