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Features - May 2008

Skanska Widens I-95 in Georgia

$199 Million Project Will Help Add Capacity to I-95 in Georgia

By Debra Wood

Skanska USA Civil Southeast is overseeing the largest of nearly $600 million in contracts to widen nearly 30 mi of Interstate 95 near Brunswick, Ga.

The Virginia Beach, Va.-based contractor won its $199 million contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation in 2006 to widen 5.72 mi of the highway to six lanes and rebuild four twin bridges to eight lanes to allow for future expansion. The bridges cross CSX rail lines and State Road 586, U.S. Highway 341, Gibson Creek and the Turtle River.

“The current corridor is not handling the traffic very well,” says Bryan Czech, GDOT District 5 area engineer. “This stretch is the busiest one.”

Jack Liles, project manager for Skanska, says the toughest part of the job is working with the existing conditions and tying into the existing bridges.

All bridges, northbound and southbound, are under construction simultaneously. In phase one, crews are widening the outside with a 24-ft extension. In phase two, traffic will move to the outside, and Skanska will install a temporary barrier and widen the inside by 17 ft. Two lanes of traffic, northbound and southbound, are maintained at all times.

Skanska divided the project into two sections. The 3,500-ft-long Turtle River Bridge represents 50% of the contract value, Liles says. That is under the direction of an area superintendent, with four superintendents focusing on the marine operation, substructure operation, drill-shaft operation and miscellaneous demolition, which includes cleaning the top of the drill shafts.

The rest of the work falls into the second section, under the direction of a different area superintendent. Skanska is self-performing all of the bridge construction. It subcontracted the highway work to R.B. Baker of Garden City, Ga.

Turtle River Bridge

At the Turtle River Bridge, construction requires installation of 424 54- and 60-in.-diameter, heavily reinforced, drilled caissons, up to 147-ft long, both in between and outside of the two bridges. It’s a marine operation. Subcontractor Coastal Caisson of Odessa, Fla., is placing the caissons, which are drilled under bentonite slurry.

Between the existing bridges and over sand bars, Coastal Caisson is using a trestle because the areas are not easily accessible by barge, says Bobby Smith, senior project manager for Coastal. On the trestle, the company is using a Bauer BG28 hydraulic rotary drill rig and on the barge a Manitowoc 1015 crawler crane and Bauer B36 drill attachment. Slurry plants mounted on barges support both operations.

Drilled-shaft installation was 75% complete in March, and about 20% of the concrete footers and caps were finished. The contract requires all work to stop if a manatee is spotted.

The Turtle Creek Bridge employs 60- to 90-ft concrete girders and 200-ft steel girders over the channel.

“It’s typical bridge construction,” Liles says. “The challenge is the tide. The tide is 7 ft in the Brunswick area, one of the highest and lowest tides in the Southeast.”

Crews must deal with sand bars and islands in the middle of the river. Construction is tidal restricted. Substructures must be poured at low tide. High tide can overflow the caps.

“It all has to be timed properly,” Liles says. Work progresses on the drill shafts as a 24-hour operation.

Other Bridges

The CSX, US-341 and Gibson Creek bridges are founded on 18- to 24-in prestressed concrete, square piles. The CSX bridge uses steel girders, and the US-341 overpass and Gibson Creek employ concrete girders.

On the CSX bridge, Skanska has completed substructure work for the first two phases and is building the phase one superstructure. Liles expects to shift traffic by midyear.

Paving, Other work

R.B. Baker’s $30 million contract covers the earthwork, drainage, base and paving and includes new ramps at US-341.

The earthwork is a cut-and-fill fill operation. Crews are moving dirt from sections where it needs to be removed to others requiring fill, rather than bringing in clean soil.

Lane closures for paving occur at night to maintain traffic flow, says Stoy Marlow, general manager for R.B. Baker. A permanent traffic shift will not occur until the first phase of the bridge work is complete.

The roadway north of US-341 and the interchange ramps will be paved with concrete. South of US-341 they will be paved with asphalt. APAC-Southeast Ballenger Division of Taylors, S.C., will place the concrete.

“That’s the way it was constructed in the early 1970s, and they are replacing as is,” Liles says. “It’s unusual.”

It helps tie in with the repaving project directly to the north of the Skanska job, GDOT’s Czech adds.

Skanska expects the roadway to consume 160,000 tons of asphalt; 116,000 sq yds of concrete; and 300,000 sq yds of aggregate base.

The project also includes installation of noise walls, signage and electrical and intelligent transportation systems. Liles expects to start the intelligent transportation work in mid-2008. Final project completion is set for Oct. 31, 2009. The contract calls for a $2,100 per day penalty for finishing late.

Additional Projects

The roughly $600 million in I-95 improvements – as well as numerous other interstate projects – are the result of GDOT’s $15.5 billion Fast Forward program.

On this stretch of I-95 near Brunswick, there are four other projects now under construction.

Czech, with GDOT, reports the respective project managers coordinate with each other.

Plant Improvement of Atlanta has two contracts. On its $55 million widening of a nearly 5-mi section that begins south of U.S. Route 17 and extends north to the Skanska project, it is heading for completion in January.

Also, Plant Improvement is in the early stages on a $68 million contract to widen 10 mi of I-95 from south of State Route 251 to north of State Route 57/State Route 99. It is targeting April 2010 for completion.

APAC Southeast is widening and reconstructing I-95 from just south of State Route 25SPUR to the Altamaha River Bridge. That $118 million project is about 23% complete, with completion scheduled for December 2009.

Finally, TIC - The Industrial Co. of Steamboat Springs, Co., is widening 4.8 mi of I-95 from south of the Glynn County line to north of State Route 251. It is heading for a September 2010 completion for this $97 million contract.

Project Team:
Owner: Georgia Department of Transportation
General Contractor: Skanska USA Civil Southeast, Virginia Beach, Va.
Paving Subcontractor: R.B. Baker, Garden City, Ga.
Drill Shaft Subcontractor: Coastal Caisson, Odessa, Fla.


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