There are plenty of challenges when you are paving at high altitudes, such as Highway 34 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the highest continuously paved road in the U.S. A&S Construction of Canon City, Colo., accepted the challenges of Highway 34 and successfully completed the job ahead of schedule.
“It’s a tough job,” said paving foreman David Tafoya, “I’ve been paving for 20 years, and it doesn’t get much tougher than this. The challenges are part altitude and part element of surprise.”
Specs called for the removal of 3.5 in. of the existing mat, pulverizing and reclaiming the road, then placing two lifts of asphalt on top of the reclaimed base. Road widths varied from 22 to 38 ft.
“It’s not like a standard highway job in most ways, and the varying width is one of them. We have to adjust along the way.”
Due to the extreme conditions, A&S decided to use a Cat AP-1055D asphalt paver, the first rubber-tracked paver they have operated. It was a decision that paid off. According to Tafoya, the slopes and superelevations were as steep as 19°. “There are grades and slopes to worry about, and then there is the incredible amount of weight the paver is pulling. This paver has the power, and it also grips. You cannot afford to twist and turn, and this machine doesn’t.”
A&S owner John P. Ary agreed. “As far as the paver is concerned, you can’t even tell you are at altitude.”
Operator Kevin Clement likes the power as well, but he also is impressed with the visibility the machine provides. “You can see the very edge,” he said. “That matters everywhere—and nowhere more than here.”
Even at high altitude, you still want a smooth finish. “The paver, the screed [Cat Extend-A-Mat 1020B] are good highway rideability screeds,” Tafoya said. “Rideability counts every bit as much up here.”
Despite the demanding environment, A&S met spec for compaction and smoothness and finished ahead of schedule.
“It’s no doubt one of the most challenging projects we’ve ever paved,” said Ary. “Completion in one season was only possible due to the teamwork exhibited by all the personnel involved. The owners seem pleased that the quality work was completed in a timely manner with a minimal effect on the public users. That’s what counts.”