July 10, 2014

Challenges met on exhaustive I-95 job

Materials and trucks were in short supply on the paving of I-95 near Island Falls, a town of 600 in eastern Maine. Challenges were not.

The project featured:

  • Wide-width paving to eliminate longitudinal joints;
  • The use of reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) as a structural layer;
  • A remote location; and
  • A tight deadline, combined with the second wettest summer in state history.

The work was ambitious, to say the least. A 10-mile stretch of the northbound interstate was closed for two months. Plans called for milling 9 in. of existing asphalt, fine-grading of the subgrade and then placing and compacting 23 in. of dense-graded aggregate. Next came crushing and placing 3 in. of RAP followed by a 3-in. lift of rich asphalt.

Two 2-in. lifts of asphalt with a stone size of 1⁄8 in. were placed on top at a width of 25 ft.

Logistical challenges that resulted from the remote location were further complicated by the weather, but Lane Construction still managed to finish 12 days ahead of schedule.

Exhaustive planning was crucial to the project. “Planning started two months before the first shovel was put into the ground,” said Cecil Dillon, project superintendent. “It was a moving jigsaw puzzle, and we had the pieces. We had an excellent work force, and we utilized a paver capable of pulling two travel lanes at once.”

The planning included some adjustments, such as constant monitoring and communication about the weather and implementation of a wide-width paver, the Cat AP1055E, when placing the asphalt.

“We were using the 1055E with an extra-long, 25-ft screed that would allow us to do two lanes at once,” explained Ken Blakely, Lane’s mechanical supervisor for the state of Maine. “We were going to be paving in an area where frost heaves cause a lot of damage, and the extra-wide screed on the 1055E would eliminate the central longitudinal seam where water seeps in.”

The Lane team was pleased with the asphalt paver and the way the machine proved itself on the job. “The performance of the wide 25-ft paver—I believe there is a comfort level now that wasn’t previously there,” Dillon said.

Other factors that had contributed to the project’s difficulty were the long distances to the asphalt plant and the remote location.

“Trucking was an issue,” Dillon said. “There were not enough trucks available in that area so we brought them from all over, and there were no silos at the plant for storage so we had to plan the trucking perfectly to ensure we were able to keep the plant running while not having trucks waiting idle.”

The tight truck timing did have a benefit: It helped ensure mix was promptly placed, which in turn helped prevent segregation. Continuous movement was another effort in the attempt to fight segregation. “There was a constant flow of material,” Dillon said.

RAP is not commonly used as a lift on top of the dense-graded material. “The DOT proposed it because it’s green and because it was available,” Dillon said.

Aggregate, like trucks, was in short supply because of the remote location. The RAP used on the Island Falls job was removed during milling, crushed to a 1-in. sieve size and then placed on the dense-graded material.

The RAP exceeded expectations. “After the first half mile we realized that it was going to work really well, and actually we will propose the use of it on other jobs,” Dillon said.

A challenging job, to be certain. Yet in some ways, it was business as usual for Lane. “Personally, I think the secret is to focus on doing every single ton as if it were the only ton you’re doing,” Dillon said.  R&B

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