The southwest-northeast bisector of Arkansas, U.S. Route 67, has always been a significant motor route. In 1803, the route was known as the Southwest Trail. This old military road follows the natural break between the Ozark Mountains and the Ouachita Mountains.
President Andrew Jackson appropriated money for the route in 1831, and designated it as a National Road. In the 1920s, federal money became available for road paving, and the route was officially designated U.S. Route 67.
Over the years, U.S. Route 67 has become a relatively heavily traveled route, which has required maintenance, rehabilitation, and in some cases, newly developed stretches.
REPLACING THE SINGLE LANE
In 2013, the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department let a project for construction of a section of the new location of Route 67, which runs roughly from west of Cash north to Walnut Ridge. The project creates a two-lane divided highway in the new location, which will replace the original single-lane highway.
Weaver-Bailey Contractors Inc., based in El Paso, Arkansas, won the project and became the general contractor on the $20 million, 9.9-mile section. Weaver-Bailey is a concrete paving specialty contractor that also performs the earthworks and grading prep work necessary for paving. The contractor is the biggest concrete paving company in the state of Arkansas.
The project commenced in January 2013 and is expected to be completed by year’s end 2015.
“This is brand new roadwork being constructed on former farm land,” states Roger Weaver, paving superintendent with Weaver-Bailey Contractors. “It’s a challenge since the fertile soil really holds moisture. The ground is great for planting crops, but not so great for planting a concrete highway.”
The winter was mild for the area and nightime temperatures fell into the 20s F, but during the day the temperatures would typically rise into the 40s F. According to Weaver, these were temperatures they could work in and pour concrete—when it is high 20s F or warmer.
NEW HIGHWAY TAKES SHAPE
The new concrete highway measures 26 feet wide—two 12-foot-wide lanes and a 2-foot shoulder on each side. Weaver-Bailey completed the highway with three layers: a cement-stabilizer base, a thin asphalt interlayer, and a surface layer, using a 14-man crew.
The 6 inches of cement stabilizer functions as a subbase layer reinforcing and protecting the subgrade. The 368,838 square yards of cement stabilizer was rough graded with a dozer and finish graded with a motor grader—both equipped with machine control.
A significant benefit, according to Weaver, is that with machine control the project does not require stakes and the surveyors to place them.
“We save considerable time and surveyor expense during all phases of the project by having the constant of the data points and design within the system,” states Weaver. “It’s easier to not worry about running over stakes and then replacing them when it inevitably happens. A major plus is having no stringlines in the way.”
NO STRINGS ATTACHED
The 1-inch layer of asphalt interlayer was placed by a subcontractor of Weaver-Bailey. The bond breaker asphalt lift separates the finish overlay concrete from the cement-stabilizer pavement underneath. It is designed to provide support for the overlay.
“We want the finished road surface to be very smooth, that’s why it’s critical that the cement stabilizer and asphalt interlayer surfaces are graded to tight tolerances,” Weaver says. “Then, to ensure we have the smoothest concrete surface, we used Topcon Millimeter GPS technology on our GOMACO slipform paver.“
“The machine’s operating system with stringless technology benefited us greatly in lower costs, higher production, and better results,” says Weaver. “We’ve been using 3D paving for the past 2 years and like that we get real-time navigation with direct access to the design data from our CAD project model. It accommodates radii and super-elevations automatically.”
Topcon’s Millimeter GPS Paver System controls the lift cylinders independently. The machine operator has access to critical information. The GX-60 control box in the GOMACO paver’s operator compartment features a color, graphical screen display of machine position on the job, and the sensors being used to control the left and right side of the screed, and current elevation and slope.
A 10-inch-thick finish surface layer of PCCP (Portland Cement Concrete Pavement) concrete was poured using standard Class A3 concrete. The nearly 20 miles of paving will require 319,220 square yards of PCCP concrete. Other than delays from rain, “the pour,” according to Weaver, “is going smoothly, giving us the smooth road surface we are after.”
For Weaver-Bailey Contractors, this Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department project hits the sweet spot of the type of work they do. Founded in 1960 by two brothers-in-law and licensed in seven states, the family owned company is a specialty general contractor with an emphasis on concrete paving.
Today, Weaver-Bailey is recognized as the largest main line concrete paver in Arkansas. The company employs approximately 100 during peak season, and a sister company, Webco Mining—an aggregate producer—employs an additional 15.
Years from now, Weaver and his crew will be able to look at an Arkansas highway map and know that they constructed this rerouted new two-lane divided highway section of historic U.S. Route 67 from farm field to smooth concrete pavement. ■
About the Author: Jeff Winke is a business and construction writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He can be reached through www.jeffwinke.weebly.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, September 2015
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