Founded in 1890, Lane Construction Corporation is one of the ‘biggies’ in civil infrastructure contracting. The company regularly takes on, and successfully completes, projects ranging in scope from $15 million on up to $1.5 billion. With that much work completed over so many years, Lane Construction has used pretty much all of the infrastructure solutions available to today’s contractors, but in 2014 they came across a simple new technique that made a big difference on labor, according to Project Manager Brian Basnight.
Lane Construction was resurfacing and rehabilitating a total of nearly 15 miles of I-64 and I-264 in Norfolk, Virginia. Those 15 miles included a lot of storm water inlets. “We were raising grade by 3.75 inches, which would affect hundreds of inlets,” Basnight explained. “To raise the inlets, we were looking at a process involving demolition, raising with brick and mortar, and pouring new concrete. I didn’t want to go through that; it could have taken hours per inlet, and wouldn’t be cost-effective.”
That difficult, potentially costly detail set Lane Construction on a search for a better inlet-raising solution. That search led to American Highway Products, a company that has specialized since 1978 in durable, convenient products that raise utilities to new pavement grades without excavation and without the need for new concrete.
The American Highway Products Catch Basin Risers slip into existing utility frames and provide a new rim, at the correct grade, for original grates. This eliminates the need for excavation and patching with new concrete or asphalt—the risers are placed prior to paving, and are held in place by new pavement, so they are solid and no cracks or seams are introduced into the brand new road surface. This makes finished roadway projects look better and last longer, without the need for future repairs around inlets. The risers themselves are made of domestic steel, an important feature since many departments of transportation, including Virginia’s, specify domestic steel for state roadway projects.
Perhaps the most important feature of the risers, especially compared to cast-iron risers, is the flexibility of their sizing. “We’re able to fabricate our risers to exact specifications—1/16-in. increments for grate thickness, length, and width, and to ¼-in. increments starting at ¾-in. for riser height—on short notice,” explained AHP President Scott Fier. “So our risers are quick and easy to install, and fit snugly into existing frames without gaps or rattling. They really reduce labor and costs, and they can also reduce the need for traffic control by 50%.”
Lane Construction Project Engineer Ismail S. Ahmed, who has been on site for most of the riser installations, agrees. “The American Highway Products risers have been great to work with; training for installation was simple, some good visual materials were provided, and setting the risers and reinstalling grates is about a 20-minute process. We set them just before the second lift, which is convenient for us, and our crew can easily stay ahead of the paver,” he said.
Lane Construction has used 229 3-in. risers in two different configurations on this project so far. Approval for their use was straightforward. “American Highway Products filled out the VDOT form for us, and submitted their mill certifications to document that we were using domestic steel,” Basnight said. “And we found that they’ve already been used and approved on many state and federal highway projects—so no issues with approval.”
As for their performance, Lane Construction feels the risers have proved themselves. “We’ll use them again, if we have a project that calls for them,” Basnight said. Also, Ahmed, who has been monitoring their actual installation and inspection, said “they’ve been working great, and save a lot of time—I’ll certainly look into using them again.”