San Antonio streets have been feeling the weight of bus traffic the past few years with sections adjacent to bus stops having become rutted.
From fiscal year 2002–03 to 2006–07 San Antonio's VIA bus line total annual ridership for all services went from 37.6 million trips to 42.3 million trips, according to VIA records. VIA is planning on adding additional rolling stock to their fleet in the very near future.
"We were having difficulty with existing sections maintaining integrity," said Dean Bayer, San Antonio Public Works pavement engineer. "The buses stopping is the worst part. Stopping creates a forward energy force that is transferred into the pavement, pulling it and causing failure, unless that pavement is very strong."
San Antonio's asphalt-paved streets were not strong enough to handle the energy force of the buses screeching to a stop on the same spot over and over, according to Bayer. City engineers decided that replacing an area of asphalt pavement with concrete in an area adjacent to each bus stop would solve the rutting problem, creating a more consistent ride.
"We chose reinforced concrete, 10 inches thick and rated at 4,000 psi at 28 days," Bayer said. Because traffic is not allowed on the new pavement, VIA designates alternate stops during the construction and curing time.
Clark Construction of Texas has been awarded two contracts to install concrete bus deceleration pads as part of a city street maintenance program. In all, these two contracts include the construction of around 150 bus pads. In the overall picture, installation of concrete bus pads in existing streets will provide the city a longer-lasting asset.
"It's a better practice to lay the road, then cut out and match the concrete pad to the asphalt," explained Annie Dadian-Williams, P.E. Clark engineer. "That way the finished concrete matches the asphalt for a continuous smooth ride."
The process begins with a Clark crew milling the right lane at bus stop to a depth of 10 inches to 11 inches. The replacement areas are 12 feet wide and most are standard at 250 feet in length.
JCD Construction, LLC, also of San Antonio, was subcontracted to complete the bus pads. JCD crews install steel reinforcement bars supplied by Palmetco, and place the concrete, which is supplied by Ingram Readmix. The ride surface is left with a semi-rough texture.
JCD specializes in concrete infrastructure — parking lots, inlets, streets, and curbs for new developments, and now bus pads. Most of their work is in the San Antonio area, but they have also performed work in Del Rio and along the San Antonio-Laredo corridor, in Medina, Cotulla and Pearsall.
Jerome and Syndie De Salme formed JCD Construction almost four years ago. Jerome worked for Zachry Construction Corp. as an engineer for a number of years and Syndie had amassed 25 years' experience in the real estate management field. Together, they brought to the kitchen table just about all the skills necessary to go into business for themselves. Their business has grown from zero to $3.4 million in contracts for 2006.
"We're hoping to reach $4 million for 2007," said Syndie De Salme. "We have 40 employees now in four crews and we're looking to add more."
Bonding is a challenge for small, young companies, but as long as JCD can work as a subcontractor to larger general contractors like Clark, they are covered under the GC's bond.
"We own equipment; we rent equipment; and we're looking to buy more equipment, perhaps even a concrete truck to help on our smaller jobs," Jerome said. "Owning a concrete truck of our own should help our crews keep moving, which makes dollar sense."
"We're growing a little at a time," Syndie explained. "We're almost debt-free already. We want to make sure our employees are taken care of, by all means. We wouldn't be where we are now if we didn't have good employees."