Strong approval rating

May 11, 2009

With a large video screen showing coverage of America’s inauguration of change just off to the left, Lindy Paving stood together on a subtle stage in a ballroom at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina and showed everyone exactly what it is capable of doing during a four-year run.

With a large video screen showing coverage of America’s inauguration of change just off to the left, Lindy Paving stood together on a subtle stage in a ballroom at the San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina and showed everyone exactly what it is capable of doing during a four-year run.

The western Pennsylvania contractor shared the day Barack Obama was sworn into office as the first African-American U.S. president to display its continued pledge to motorists following a second Sheldon G. Hayes award since 2005. The prize, presented by the National Asphalt Pavement Association, goes to the top paving job in the country.

“It is refreshing to see that everything that we have been building on is paying off and working,” Dan Ganoe, operations manager for Lindy Paving, New Castle, Pa., told Roads & Bridges. “Going after the first one, we put a lot of effort into focusing on quality and really striving to do the best, and it is nice to see we have been able to sustain that.”

Lindy’s dedication certainly is a sight to behold. Driving the latest Hayes victory strip, 5.8 miles of I-79 just outside of Pittsburgh, in Ganoe’s robust GMC silver pickup in mid-April it did not take an NAPA-approved expert to realize the quality behind the work. It’s been over two years since the feat was completed, and it drives like the material was fresh off the asphalt paver.

“There is not a job we start or a road we go to that our intent isn’t to leave with the best possible project that we can execute,” said Ganoe.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) got its start toward smoother pavements with the approval of a ride specification over a decade ago. According to Lindy Paving President Vince Tutino, bonuses for concrete paving had been in place in the state for years.

“The asphalt industry went out and tried to convince state agencies to write a specification where we could have some benefit for a smoother pavement, and that is where it all started,” he told Roads & Bridges.

“You can benefit from placing a smoother pavement financially,” added Ganoe. “There was now a bonus involved, as well as penalties.”

Lindy Paving, however, already had all of the incentive it needed coming from the dedicated spirit within the organization. It was using 40-ft skis on pavers before an asphalt ride specification was on the drawing board. The quality tactic was used on Lindy’s first Hayes Award job, which consisted of 6.1 miles of Parkway West (I-279 North). Coincidentally, I-79 provides a link to I-279.

Different take, quality given

Lindy Paving was outside of the box looking in as plans for the I-79 work started heating up. Originally, PennDOT wanted to completely reconstruct the route, calling for complete removal of the concrete pavement. Lindy Paving along with its joint venture partner Trumbull Corp. instead saw a solid foundation to work off of, and suggested a crack and seat, which involves saw cutting the existing concrete pavement, cracking the concrete using a 6-ton guillotine hammer and using a 50-ton proof roller to seat the fractured pavement. By using the existing pavement as a support structure that is 10 in. thick, the contractor eliminated the chance of exposing subgrade material under the aged roadway. Antigo Construction, Antigo, Wis., performed the crack-and-seat portion of the I-79 job.

Another tinker involved the asphalt lifts. Original designs called for 14 in. of a 37.5-mm base course, 2.5 in. of a 19-mm binder course and 1.5 in. of a 9.5-mm wearing course. The 37.5-mm base course contained a larger stone, diminishing the chances for a smooth ride. Lindy Paving, at its own expense, decided to substitute the top 3 in. of the base with a 25-mm mix that is higher in asphalt content. Total thickness of the new asphalt road was 18 in., except around transition areas leading on and off of a total of five bridges, where the mat buffed up to 21 in.

“We were worried about placing a binder on top of that 37.5,” said Ganoe. “We still kept that same 14-in. base structure but for that final lift we used 25 mm because it can be placed in a thinner lift than the 37.5 mm. We thought that it would improve our chances of achieving a smoother ride on the next two lifts.”

The surface and binder course contained PG 76-22 binder, while the 25-mm and 37.5-mm base carried a PG 64-22 binder. All four Superpave mixes are designed at 4% air voids and to carry between 3 million and 30 million equivalent single-axle loads (ESAL). The 9.5-mm lift averaged 5.4% asphalt content in production (4% on the 200 sieve) while the 19-mm binder mix carried an average of 4.2% asphalt content (3.9% on the 200 sieve).

Two Gencor asphalt plants cranked out the product. One was located 10 miles from the jobsite in Neville Island, while the other one sat on Second Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh. At the peak of production there was 3,000-4,000 tons of asphalt a day delivered at 290-300° to a Roadtec SB2500 Shuttle Buggy on the jobsite. The material was transferred to a Caterpillar 1055D asphalt paver sized up with those trusted two 40-ft skis. When conditions were right, crews placed the 10-ft-wide shoulders first before moving over to the 12-ft-wide travel lanes. Lindy Paving then combined the 12-ft-wide passing lane with a 4-ft-wide shoulder. The northbound lanes were constructed first, followed by the southbound lanes.

By firming up the 10-ft-wide shoulders before the rest of the new pavement, Lindy created a roaming area for the Sakai steel double-drum vibratory rollers. When the three machines had to be refilled with water or needed to roll off to change directions it was done on that shoulder or previously placed lane to prevent roller marks from developing in the fresh mat.

The rolling pattern on a typical 12-ft-wide paving pass for the binder and wearing courses consisted of a total of 10 to 12 vibratory passes at 4,000 vpm. A Troxler 3440 nuclear gauge was activated at a minimum of every 200 ft behind the rolling operation to make sure density readings fell within the acceptable 92-97% range. For the 9.5-mm wearing mix, crews were achieving 94.3% density, while on the 19-mm binder mix it was 94.2%.

“An up to 30 million ESAL [Superpave] mix, by its nature, is going to be very difficult to compact,” Joe Conti, quality control manager for Lindy Paving, told Roads & Bridges. “You have to maintain a very diligent effort in order to meet the required specifications for density. I mean, you really have to keep after it.”

Lindy Paving has been obsessing over the details since the quality initiative was put in place 10 years ago.

“Every year it just got better for us,” said Tutino. “The first thing that the paving crew [on the first Hayes Award win] asked at the end of the day was what our numbers were. The following day they went out to try to improve on that. That not only carried through the course of that job, it carried through the next three or four years.”

A K.J. Law profilometer was used to check for smoothness. The average IRI for the northbound lanes came in at 35 in. per mile, and 91 of the 138 lots available ended up in the maximum bonus classification under PennDOT’s ride specification.

The southbound lanes came in just as sound, registering at 36.5 in. per mile.

“As we place each lift, we are riding it and testing for smoothness as we placed it,” said Ganoe. “So we gauge each lift with our past history, and we have an idea of what kind of improvement we should see on each lift and are able to make necessary adjustments.”

Dabbling in bridges

Lindy Paving has a good feeling about its latest project, one that involved just over 61?2 miles on I-79. It won a Quality in Construction Award for 2008, which means it is in the running for another Hayes Award.

Bridge construction and maintenance is coming up a winner these days in Pennsylvania. After the I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the state has made a commitment to solidifying its structures, prompting Lindy Paving to purchase a small bridge construction company, Gulisek Construction LLC out of Mt. Pleasant, Pa. The contractor was not expecting any stimulus money to be invested in any significant asphalt paving work this season.

“There is an initiative in the state to repair and/or replace a tremendous amount of bridges, so for the asphalt industry it is kind of dismal to say the least at this point, and we are going to see a reduction in asphalt tons in the state. It could drop 30-40%,” said Tutino.

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