Reconstructing The I-95/I-695 Interchange

Staff | September 28, 2010

The joint venture of G.A. & F.C. Wagman, Inc., York, PA; Corman Construction Inc., Annapolis Junction, MD; and McLean Contracting Company, Glen Burnie, MD, is at work on a 42-month, $208-million project to reconstruct the I-95/I-695 interchange. This project is the first of two contracts necessary to realign the existing travel lanes and ramps, and add the new Express Toll Lanes (ETLs) along I-95.

The I-95 Express Toll Lanes Project will reconstruct I-95 and three interchanges to include two Express Toll Lanes and four general-purpose lanes in each direction along 10 miles of I-95 between the I-95/I-895 split and New Forge Road north of MD 43. The ETLs will be physically separated from the general-purpose lanes, with designated access points along the highway. Motorists will have the option of using the general-purpose lanes at no cost or paying a toll to use the ETLs. The tolls will be managed to maintain relatively congestion-free traffic flow. The toll for using the ETLs will vary depending on the time of day and amount of traffic on the road.

The interchanges within the project limits will have to be reconfigured to allow direct access to, and from, the general purpose and express toll lanes. Construction on Phase 1 of the I-95/I-695 Interchange extends approximately 1.3 miles along I-95 between the Kenwood Avenue overpass and the Rossville Boulevard overpass, and along I-695 from west of the Lillian Holt Drive overpass to the I-695/MD Route 7 interchange.

The scope of work includes construction of 11 new bridge structures, excavation and embankments, full-depth pavement construction, new storm drain improvements, wall and sound barrier structures. In addition, work includes major utility relocations, stream relocation, landscaping and lighting.

Phase 2 of the I-95/I-695 Interchange reconstruction includes the construction of managed lanes on I-95 and the connecting ETL ramps, as well as work on I-695 eastbound and westbound.

"We're into various phases now in terms of opening ramps," says Wagman General Superintendent Joseph Nestlerode Sr. "We recently opened two new ramps, which include I-95 northbound to I-695 eastbound, and I-95 northbound to I-695 westbound. The I-695 westbound to I-95 northbound was opened September 15. In the spring, we'll open a second flyover structure from I-95 southbound to I-695 eastbound, and a third flyover structure from I-695 westbound to I-95 southbound. We should open a bridge or new traffic movement once a month starting in March until the project is completed."

Although the team received the initial notice to proceed on December 15, 2006, environmental permit issues delayed the start of the project until January 22, 2007. Clearing, grubbing, line painting, and barrier erection began on February 1, 2007. Work on the structures began April 1, 2007.

All the bridge structures are on pilings, which are 14 inches wide, 72–89 pounds to the foot, and 35–60 feet long. Driven by a D30 diesel hammer, some of the pilings were driven 65 feet deep. Pile driving proved to be a challenge on the project because of the high traffic volumes and noise restrictions.

"There are approximately 350,000 cars a day that go through this project," explains Nestlerode. "Between our close proximity to the highway — and not wanting to shock people with the diesel hammer firing — we had some problems initially. Noise restrictions required all pile driving be done during daylight hours; also there could be no lane closures on I-95 or I-695 during the day. We drove soldier piles and put up screens so we didn't impact the driving public."

The team has constructed 51 piers and their foundations in 18 months. Although there were five different-dimension piers on the project, Nestlerode states that once they had assembled the form systems and got into a rhythm, construction went very well. "We actually started the first form system for the piers in April 2007, and just completed the last pier cap in November 2008. Also, we currently have five bridge decks totally complete and we're 50 percent complete on a sixth one."

S&G Concrete Company, Edgewood, MD, has a batch plant on site to keep a constant supply of concrete ready for the project. Nestlerode states that many pours were in the 300–400 yard range. "Some of our pours were taking 12–13 hours because we were doing split pours. On an 80-foot pier shaft we were pouring half of it at one time; it took 12–13 hours so we didn't blow the forms out."

Project engineers also specified 70 percent fly ash as part of the mass concrete specification to decrease the volume of cement on the project and reduce cracking. "There was extensive testing and temperature instrumentation associated with the pours," says Nestlerode. "We monitored the temperatures, and were able to estimate the strength of the concrete by the core temperatures of the cement."

During the bulk of the project, the Joint Venture of Wagman/Corman/McLean has had 17 cranes on site ranging from 65–300 tons. "A lot of our form systems weighed between 40–50 tons," says Nestlerode, "and we had to go 80–90 feet in the air. There were some pretty good loads to handle there."

Since the mainline roadway could not be closed during the day, the superstructure steel was set on weeknights, typically between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. "When we had to do complete closures, a lot of times we only had a midnight to 5 a.m. window," says Nestlerode. "Some of the girders were 10 feet tall and 147 feet long and weighed (up to) 78,000 pounds a piece. We used a 175-ton Terex on one end, a 300-ton Manitowoc 2250 on the other end, and 140- and 165-ton holding cranes. Our subcontractor High Steel did an excellent job with the steel erection."

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based High Steel Structures also fabricated and shipped approximately 16,000 tons of steel on the project. American Infrastructure, Worcester, PA, is the paving subcontractor on the project.

The 3 1/2 year interchange project at I-95/I-695 is expected to be completed in 2010.

Editor's note: Additional material provided by the Maryland Transportation Authority.