NO. 5 ROAD: Revolutionizing the Foundations

Dec. 8, 2023
How a project team’s ambition for innovation led them to success

When faced with a series of complex constraints in rebuilding this heavily traveled corridor in Davis County Utah, the U.S. Route-89 project team opted for innovation. 

The $526 million project required nine miles of highway reconstruction and widening, four new interchanges, two new bridges, and the extension of a city street. Because of the project’s size, the team faced concerns relating to environmental protections, utilities, right-of-ways, and members of surrounding communities.

Instead of a traditional design-build project delivery method, Utah’s Department of Transportation (UDOT) employed a progressive design-build contractor, Oak Hills Constructors, for the job.

Utilizing this method allowed the project team to leverage valuable contractor-generated insight inherent to construction manager/general contractor delivery, alongside traditional design-build organizational structure and contracting methodologies. And, it’s why this project is on our list of Top 10 Roads of 2023.

“We’re honored to be nominated among the 2023 Top 10 projects,” said UDOT Project Director Michael Romero. “The U.S. 89 project included several firsts for UDOT and by working together with the progressive design builder, Oak Hills Constructors, we were able to achieve them and deliver a publicly supported and successful project on time.”

This was UDOT’s first project using a progressive design-build, and this required the team to innovate in regards to the phases of project development. How they considered community input on the project and how closures would be maintained needed to change.

During the design process, residents voiced their preference for the highway to go underneath the cross streets. As part of the commitments under the progressive design build, the project team formed a Community Coordination Team (CCT) to provide input on the project.

Based on input from the CCT, and after conducting further engineering and on-site data gathering, the project team found a cost effective and less impactful way to take U.S. 89 under the local streets.

This reduced the visual impact of the project’s walls and bridges. In addition, it made use of the existing topography in the area and saved time and money.

However, the need for innovation did not let up. As a result of the change in design plans, more than 150 miles of utilities within the 9-mile corridor had to be relocated, impacting over 30 third-party utility owners. The project team worked closely with those entities to coordinate the relocations and secure permits within the project delivery schedule. 

The ability to complete this work called for 73 permits to be acquired through Bureau of Reclamation permitting and required approvals from the Army Corps of Engineers. 

The design change also required a significant amount of retaining wall. The finalized walls included 298,090 square feet of mechanically stabilized earth and soil nail walls across the corridor.

Construction came with its own challenges. With roughly 37,700 vehicles a day, U.S. 89’s importance called for keeping all existing lanes open in both directions during morning and evening commutes. 

However, the unique progressive design build contract did not allow full closures of U.S. 89 and required only every other side street be open while one was impacted by construction.

What resulted from the teams’ ambition, and the adversity they faced that comes with implementing a method for the first time, is a corridor that will serve as a critical connection for the heavily trafficked area. RB

Project Name: U.S. 89; Farmington to I-84 

Project Location: Davis County, Utah 

Owners: Utah Department of Transportation 

Designer: Oak Hills Constructors JV 

Contractors: Oak Hills Constructors JV 

Cost: $526 million 

Length: 9 miles

Completion Date: July 2023 

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