At first glance, the reconstruction of I-15 near Provo, Utah, looks like a high-production, mainline paving job.
It runs for 25 miles and is typically 10 lanes wide. By the time the paving portion of the three-year job is completed in September, Staker Parson Cos.—the only paving contractor on the job—will have placed nearly 800,000 tons of warm mix and stone-matrix asphalt (SMA).
But there is more to this job than straight-line production. The ability of a paving crew to adjust to varied mixes and widths is every bit as important as quickly placing tons behind the screed.
“In many ways, this job is about versatility as much as anything else,” said Tyler Shepherd, project manager for Staker Parson. The work includes tie-ins to 55 bridges and 4,000 drainage boxes.
“The drainage boxes are a challenge,” Shepherd said. “The paver has to accept the mix, adjust the screed without any disruption, move around the box, stay steady as the screed is adjusted again and never miss a beat.”
Even mainline passes require adjustment.
“We can go as narrow as 10 ft 6 in. and as wide as 20 ft in a matter of minutes,” Shepherd said. “It’s rare that we’re just moving down the road at the same width. We have to make those adjustments and still hit the specs.” Specs allow a deviation of 0.03 in. from the design finish elevation.
The project utilizes two very different types of mixes. The interstate mainline consists of a 3-in. lift of mix with 3?4-in. stone. That lift is later covered with concrete. The exit ramps and roads receive a 4.5-in. lift of warm mix, topped off by a 1.5-in. surface lift of SMA. Both types of mixes were placed with Cat AP1055D pavers.
“Crews and pavers have to be able to adjust to the mixes,” Shepherd said. “We meet the challenge by having well-trained, flexible crews and paving equipment that can adjust quickly and still perform quality work.”
Being part of a bigger team also requires some flexibility.
“We didn’t anticipate how many times we would have to move from one area to the next because of scheduling needs,” Shepherd said. “That was another adjustment.”
“It’s the largest volume job we’ve ever been on,” said Shepherd. “It’s the largest highway project in Utah’s history and has an extremely demanding and complex schedule to meet. The high production level required to meet these demands is being accomplished by the ability of our crew and the pavers to quickly adjust to many variables.” R&B