Caterpillar AP-1055D

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A Holland opus

Work has sweet sound of success

Time and traffic had taken a toll on the Holland Tunnel, the four-lane I-78 thoroughfare connecting New York and New Jersey. The deterioration led the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to take action.

“It sounds like a simple mill-and-pave job,” said Raul Gonzalez, project manager with Crisdel Group Inc., South Plainfield, N.J. “What could be easier than milling a few inches and replacing it with new asphalt? It sounds easy, but there was a little more to it than that.”

Quite a lot more, it turns out. Many logistical challenges needed to be overcome. The Holland Tunnel had to be shut down, but the importance of the tunnel meant the milling and paving windows were extremely tight, with the road closing limited to seven hours at a time.

“We had to be gone without leaving behind a sign we had been there—with the exception of the work we had done,” Gonzalez said.

The size of the tunnel presented space challenges. Another issue was that ventilation had to be adjusted to keep workers healthy. And, asphalt had to be relayed to four vehicles before even reaching the hopper. To top it off, there also were challenging compaction specifications.

A Cat AP-1055D asphalt paver was used to pave. The rubber-track asphalt paver used an AS2301 Vers-A-Mat screed with front-mounted extenders that had 2-in. bolt-on extensions on both sides.

The temperature behind the electric screed remained consistent, he said. “Even the extensions are heated. That’s been a plus for us, using the electric-heated screed. It’s helped the mat be evenly heated.”

The electric screed also helps reduce fumes, a key benefit when paving in
a tunnel.

“The Port Authority also has a great ventilation system,” Gonzalez said. “They can create positive and negative areas to move air.”

This allowed the crew to have a manufactured 20- to 25-mph wind at their backs, and fumes to be pushed out of the tunnel.

“We paved at 10 ft per minute, which would be incredibly slow on another job,” Gonzalez said. “On this job, it wasn’t.

That was the right pace, considering the conditions, and we kept moving steadily, which helped with smoothness. I wouldn’t want to make a living paving at 10 ft per minute. But in this case, I was thrilled.”

Smoothness went well, with no penalty for profile index results of 0-15. “We averaged between 5 and 9, so we had very smooth pavement,” Gonzalez said. There were no joints to worry about, because Crisdel essentially paved the entire width of the tunnel.
It was among the most challenging jobs of Gonzalez’ career. “The paving was easy,” he said. “It’s the logistics behind the paving that created the challenge.

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