Walter Toebe and Michigan DOT Keep Revive275 Moving Forward
Crews have completed one half of Michigan's $75 million, 88-lane-mile concrete replacement project Revive275 with work now progressing on the northbound lanes of Interstate 275 in Wayne and Oakland counties.
"The existing pavement had deteriorated to a point where it needed to be rebuilt," says Jeff Mack, Senior Technician with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). "We are making improvements to the slope and drainage features and replacing the concrete surface."
I-275 in this area had been repaved in 1999, but the pavement prematurely began failing for a variety of reasons. Studies suggest these factors include freeze-thaw damage, an alkali-silica reaction and the air content being lower than normal when the concrete was placed.
MDOT decided to replace the concrete now, before the subbase also deteriorated and significantly increased the scope of work and cost of replacement. The agency designed the project in house and awarded the job to Walter Toebe of Wixom, Michigan. Construction began in April, with completion expected in September.
"The speed of the project is going very well," Mack says. "The pace of the project was fast, and we are meeting our goals for getting it done."
Dry weather has helped the project progress at a rapid pace. Still, crews are working seven days per week. Most team members work eight to 16 hours daily. Additional night operations are scheduled.
Scope of Work
Crews have completed replacing the concrete on the southbound lanes and in early July closed the northbound lanes for rehabilitation. Since this is an inlay project and not a full reconstruction, the shoulders remain. A saw cut is made at the edge of metal at the shoulder interface in both lanes.
"We are breaking the concrete up, and it's being removed and hauled off site," Mack says. "The existing sub-base is still in good shape."
Initially, a specialized resonant breaker from Resonant Machines Inc. (RMI) of Kansas City, Missouri, was used to pulverize the concrete. The machine moves along at 5 miles per hour and strikes 44 times per second. The impact is more than 2,000 pounds of pressure per strike. The fractured concrete can be left in place as base material. But on Revive275, the base was fine. The pieces produced by RMI were so small, it took crews too long to remove them.
"We ended up shifting to a more conventional breaking operation to help speed up the removal process," Mack says.
Mack adds that the machine, new to Michigan, worked as intended. However, the equipment broke the concrete into pebble-sized pieces. Larger pieces as a result of the traditional breaking operation made removal easier. Toebe assumed ownership and disposed of the old concrete appropriately.
Concrete breaking takes place between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., to avoid disturbing nearby residents. Additionally, a noise and dust mitigation plan is enforced at the concrete batch plants set up within the project limits.
Toebe uses an automated machine guidance system with GPS to steer the paver, rather than the driver following string lines. The 16 bridges within the project are receiving upgrades and preventive maintenance. The shoulders are being repaired and overlaid with hot mix asphalt.
"Our quality standards continue to go up with new technologies and testing," Mack says.
MDOT is closely monitoring paving of the new 13-inch thick concrete and is testing for air entrainment on a frequent basis. Air entrainment pertains to microscopic air cells in the concrete, which relieve internal pressure because the tiny chambers allow for water to expand when it freezes, according to the Portland Cement Association.
Long term, the road should be quieter than the old pavement, because the job calls for longitudinal tinning rather than transvers tinning to help with drainage.
The job has remained safe with no serious injuries. The entire freeway is closed but a lot of heavy machinery is on site.
"There has been a lot of communication between MDOT and the contractor to keep things as safe as possible," Mack says. "That has been a real positive out here."
One regulator works full time with the public, helping drivers find alternative routes and educating them about the reasons for the project. MDOT has held multiple meeting and has posted detours to help drivers unfamiliar with the area skirt the construction.
The department studied different options for completing the work and let the public weigh in through an online survey. The options were keeping one lane open in each direction, which would have taken two years and added $4.85 million to the cost; letting one lane open the entire time with traffic shifting as work progressed, adding $2.87 million to the cost and again taking two years; or closing one direction at a time, completing the work and reopening, which is what the public overwhelmingly chose. Closing the road is safer and allows a faster construction.
"We've been working hard at MDOT to work with the community," says Diane Cross, Spokesperson for the department. It has held multiple public meetings.
MDOT also has created Mi Drive, a free interactive app for Android and Apple, which shows construction areas for state roads and detours. Cameras along the roadways allow app users to visually see the delays while considering different routes. The department also updates a website, sends email and uses social media to keep drivers and residents informed.
"We do all we can to make sure everybody can find out what is going on," Cross says.
MDOT has gone paperless on Revive275. Thousands of documents are accessible through an electronic system viewable on a tablet or computer. The plans, proposals and specifications for the job total more than 3,000 pages.
"It is something we have been moving to the last few years," Mack says. "It seems to be working very well. It's a lot easier to carry a tablet with 1,000 electronic sheets than 1,000 paper plan sheets."
All work progresses according to the plans. Mack reports he is proud of the speed with which the job continues moving forward, staying on track for a September completion.