‘Chain’ of excavators tackles steep embankment project in Missouri

Dec. 3, 2019

After massive flooding hit Missouri in 2017, the hillsides along several stretches of Highway 5 sloughed down onto the road. When FEMA sought to shore up one such slope outside Camdenton, a city of 4,000 in the central part of the state, the steep task fell to Geromini Concrete (GC) Paving LLC in the nearby town of Montreal.

The firm, owned by Jamie Geromini, has carved out a niche in the concrete industry by doing a “bit of everything besides asphalt,” she said, but the slide repair proved an uphill climb—literally. Much of the work took place on a 45-degree embankment along the highway as the hill’s eroded soil was swapped out for sturdier rock.

“It was basically removing 22,000 cu yd of dirt and soils that were bad and replacing them with 22,000 cu yd of rockfill up these slopes,” superintendent Nate Geromini explained. “And there was no access above, so everything had to be taken and moved up the hill.”

The solution: Nate formed a “chain” of machines lining the hill from top to bottom. With dump trucks waiting beside the still-active highway, a fleet of Doosan crawler excavators moved dirt down the slope. A reverse process later helped move materials uphill. 

“You have a machine down at the bottom, moving it out of the dump trucks up to the other machine then up to the other machine,” Nate explained. “Then you just work your way across the hill, and you build your pad that you’re on as you go.” 

The machines on the project included the Doosan DX190W-3 wheel excavator as well as crawler excavators including the DX235LCR-5 and DX350LC-5. GC Paving purchases and rents its Doosan equipment from Bobcat of Columbia—the authorized Doosan dealer in the area.

From a pad in the middle of the slope, a DX300LC-5 excavator with a super-long-reach boom and arm moved material as quickly as two standard excavators would have, Nate said. That saved time and money on the federally funded project, which came with a Nov. 1, 2019, deadline to avoid hefty fines—the kind that can add up to $50,000 a day. The project started in mid-July, leaving a roughly three-month window.

Digging out the soil left 30-ft-deep expanses on the slope at points, ratcheting up the precision and skill required of excavator operators on the uneven jobsite. And while the project marked GC Paving’s first major test for the excavators, crews reported that they proved plenty durable for the job. 

“When you’re messing with rocks the size of small trucks moving around, they worked amazing,” Nate said. “I mean, we’re beating them up and they’re still just getting in there and just going after it.”


Editor's Note: Scranton Gillette Communications and the SGC Infrastructure Group are not liable for the accuracy, efficacy and validity of the claims made in this piece. The views expressed in this content do not reflect the position of the Roads & Bridges' Editorial Team.

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