I-75 Work Spans Several Miles

By Aram Kalousdian, editor | September 28, 2010

Current work on a section of Interstate 75 in Wayne County, MI, and Monroe County, MI, includes reconstruction of approximately 2-1/2 miles of northbound and southbound Interstate 75, storm sewer reconstruction, sign and pavement marking upgrades, bridge approach work, bridge reconstruction, box culvert replacement, and approximately 6 miles of concrete repairs.

The 2-1/2-mile section is being reconstructed with 13-1/2 inches of P-1 modified non-reinforced concrete on a 16-inch open graded drainage course.

The project began in June and it is expected to be completed in July 2009. Rich LaPalm, senior inspector for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), said that the short time frame is a challenge on the project, due to the bridge work and box culvert replacement work. In addition to that, the project was moved up from 2009 to this year in order to take advantage of the time that Interstate 75 is closed in Detroit for the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project, thus minimizing the impact on the motoring public. The schedule was compressed for design and construction.

“We have a new alignment on southbound Interstate 75 where Fort Street merges in. Previously, we merged in the Fort Street ramp from the left lane of Interstate 75. That bridge is being doubled in length and will come over the southbound lanes of Interstate 75, where it will merge into the right lane of Interstate 75,” LaPalm said.

“We are demolishing the western abutment of the Fort Street Bridge. That will be a two-span structure when it is completed.

“Northbound and southbound Interstate 75 will be close together and will go underneath the Fort Street structure, instead of having a wide median.” LaPalm said that merging the Fort Street ramp with the right lane of southbound Interstate 75 provides greater safety for motorists.

“The Woodruff Bridge is being demolished. That will have new pier alignments. The Woodruff Bridge is directly underneath a 345,000-volt electric line. The contractor has detectors on their crane so that they don't lift up into the line,” LaPalm said. C.A. Hull, of Walled Lake, MI, is doing the bridge work.

The overhead power lines are owned by ITC, of Novi, MI. Gorette Young, project development engineer for MDOT, said that there has been a lot of coordination with ITC in order to make sure that the work goes smoothly.

“The Woodruff Bridge is a unique situation because we have very limited room to position a crane and the structure is at a skewed angle,” Young said.

“We brought together many bridge experts and people that have worked in similar situations statewide and out-of-state and we also sat down with ITC. It takes a lot of coordination with people. We ironed out a list of restrictions and a list of locations that we thought would work. We put this in front of the contractor in order to inform the contractor.”

The prime contractor for the approximately $53-million project is Dan's Excavating, Inc., of Shelby Township, MI. Dan's Excavating, Inc.'s Link-Belt 200-ton crane and Manitowoc 120-ton crane are driving H-pile and working on cofferdams and the three-sided box culverts on the project.

Joe Goodall, project manager for Dan's Excavating, Inc., said that the staged construction of the box culverts is a challenge. “There are existing box culverts and we have to put new ones in on top of those and then take the old ones out. We have to do this part width, because we must keep southbound Interstate 75 open,” Goodall said.

“We put the box culvert out to the middle on northbound Interstate 75, and then when we complete the road we switch the traffic over and build the second half.”

Young said that another challenge on the project has been the drainage. “M-85 (Fort Street) used to be on a hill. We thought that it was a very interesting alignment. Through a drainage study, we found out that some 30 years ago the drain was realigned and the original stream was buried underneath a pile of dirt. It was a challenge to make sure that all of the drainage is reasonable, because that's where we are reconfiguring the left side ramp to the right side. It was quite a challenge to make sure that the drainage works with the vertical curve and the alignment of Interstate 75 so that we can have a right-side ramp,” Young said.

Material quantities include approximately 230,000 square yards of non-reinforced concrete pavement; approximately 1.9 million pounds of structural steel; 5,800 cubic yards of substructure concrete; and 3,200 cubic yards of superstructure concrete.

Subcontractors include C.A. Hull, of Walled Lake, MI (bridge work); Ajax Paving Industries, of Troy, MI (concrete paving); and J. Ranck Electric, of Mt. Pleasant, MI (electrical and signage). Brian Scharboneau is the MDOT delivery engineer, and Mike Gorman is the assistant engineer for MDOT. URS, of Grand Rapids, MI, is the engineering firm that designed the project.