U.S. 41 Design-Build Project

Story by Tom Hale | September 28, 2010

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) continues to move forward with design-build projects, having undertaken many such projects around the state during the past decade. And this movement continues with construction of a challenging and fast-paced design-build project in Knox County, located in southwest Indiana.

Rieth-Riley Construction Co. Inc.'s Mobile Group is tackling this 11.54-mile pavement rehabilitation project, under a $27.5-million contract with INDOT's Vincennes District. The project, one of the top five projects ever awarded by the District, is taking place around the east side of Vincennes, and stretches from 0.6 miles south of State Road 241 to the north junction of U.S. 50.

The work involves improving U.S. 41 from the Kelso Creek area south of the U.S. 50/U.S. 41 interchange to outside the city limits near the Willow Street interchange, according to Steve Patrick, project manager for the Vincennes District.

Main components of the design-build project, the first in the Vincennes District, include performing pavement reconstruction — including concrete pavement rubblization; asphalt resurfacing, involving the placement of 420,000 tons of asphalt; improving vertical clearance at the Hart Street and S.R. 61 interchange and rebuilding all four ramps; patching and resurfacing the ramps at the Willow Street interchange; and providing drainage improvements. "At the Hart Street and S.R. 61 interchange, we are lowering the pavement about 3 feet under those overpasses," says Patrick, a 35-year INDOT veteran.

The four-lane highway is undergoing a complete rehabilitation. This section of U.S. 41 was originally built in 1963, and no major reconstruction projects have taken place since it was built. There have been patching and paving projects, but no major reconstruction.

On A Fast Track

Initial work on the U.S. 41 project began in May 2005, and is scheduled for completion this July. "This is a fast-track design-build project," says Joe Madrid, Rieth-Riley's paving superintendent. "I have probably done 10 design-build jobs, but never fast track like this one."

"It's definitely a challenging project," adds Rieth-Riley Project Superintendent Larry Hunt, noting that there are multiple activities occurring simultaneously as the project progresses. "For example, we recently had 100 people on the job, including subcontractors, etc. We were literally working from one end of this project to the other, putting pipe in, doing breaking and milling, moving dirt, and installing guardrails and signals. It is a challenge for all the supervisors just to keep track of all the work."

Crews have been typically working six days a week, "but in different situations, such as those involving ramp closures, we will work seven days, 24 hours a day — whatever it takes," Hunt says.

Rieth-Riley Construction Co. has worked closely with design consultant Bernardin, Lochmueller & Associates Inc., Evansville, Ind., on the design-build. Other key project participants include Specialties Co. LLC, Fox Contractors Corp., Indiana Reline Inc., Trans-Tech, McCrite Milling & Construction, NES Traffic Safety, Newell Enterprises LLC, and Starnes Trucking.

According to Hunt, the U.S. 41 design-build team is making significant progress and is proceeding as scheduled — overcoming initial planning/engineering issues and overcoming inclement spring weather that hampered the project. "We had such a mild winter and were able to do a lot of dirt work," Hunt says. "But we had a tremendous amount of problems with the spring weather. Despite all that, we are getting a lot of work done in a short period of time. We hope to have the entire project finished by July 28."

An average of 17,372 cars pass through this section of U.S. 41 on a daily basis, according to Cher Goodwin, public information director for INDOT's Vincennes District. So, to accommodate the rehabilitation work, traffic is transferred from one side of the highway to the other. During a recent visit by Construction Digest, Rieth-Riley workers were busy placing asphalt on the northbound side of U.S. 41, with two-way traffic using the two southbound lanes.

The contractor's primary paving crew can typically place 4,000 tons of asphalt a day. The Superpave project features the placement of 12 inches of material on the mainline sections and 19-1/2 inches of material on the full-depth sections — the areas near the bridges.

Rieth-Riley is using a Roadtec 195 paver and a Roadtec SB-2500 Shuttle Buggy material transfer vehicle, along with three Dynapac rollers. The asphalt is being produced in Rieth-Riley's new, portable Astec plant, which is capable of producing 400 tons an hour.

Other individuals instrumental in the U.S. 41 project for Rieth-Riley are Gary Kercher, sales manager, Mobile Group, and Brent Berkley, assistant project manager. Key people in the Vincennes District are Samuel Sarvis, deputy district commissioner; Elliott Sturgeon, deputy commissioner of highway management; and Marston Fowler Jr., district construction engineer.