Imagine having to blast and reconstruct a 1.5-mile-long, two-lane road while installing 16,000 feet of underground utilities all around it. You probably picture a closed road with multiple crews and heavy equipment seamlessly working from one end to the other. Now picture sharing this road with tractor trailers and dump trucks making deliveries. This is a real challenge our Site team faces every day on a road improvement project in Central Pennsylvania.
The project location seems idyllic with its rolling hills, farmland and streams, but unseen are two active quarries and a major egg production facility. As the only accessible, approved road for heavy trucks, it needs to remain open to keep these businesses operable. In addition, two, large building projects also require access to the road.
Keeping the road open for neighboring businesses and multiple construction projects requires extensive planning and coordination. When we took our road reconstruction plans to the township for approval, we invited a representative from one of the quarries. It was important to get the quarry's buy-in since they use the road most often. Because the plan has the best interest of the project and neighbors in mind, the township and the quarry both approved it.
Using three pipe crews and two road crews, our plan keeps one lane open for heavy truck usage from 6am - 6pm. During these hours, the crews work on milling, excavating, grading, paving, curbing and installing utilities. From 6pm - 6am a shift change occurs as other crews work through the night blasting the existing roadway and installing the deep utilities. By 6am the next day, all debris is cleared and the roadway is open to truck traffic again. Our crews have successfully worked this way since May 2021.
However, complicating things, even more, is this project’s heavy utility work, which is required to accommodate a new warehouse building. The utility installation, which we are self-performing, includes 5,000 feet of sanitary sewer lines and force main, 3,100 feet of storm sewer and 8,100 feet of 12-inch main water line. This amount of underground work is a lot to coordinate for such a narrow and active roadway, but our pipe and road crew leaders are working together to sequence activities around each other.
Early in the project, utility work required boring under two creeks to install the water lines. One of our challenges was excavating down 20 feet through solid rock for one boring. Another area of the creek required an open cut for making a dam and pumping water around the work area. On one occasion, it rained so hard that it took eight additional pumps to divert the water so the pipe crew could finish the job.
Thanks to the commitment and long hours put in by our superintendent and work crews, who are also self-performing the bulk excavation, demolition and milling, curbing prep, grading and paving, this complex, 10-month-long project will be complete in nearly half the time, wrapping up four months early. The road is on track to reopen completely by Thanksgiving 2021.