Hoffman Bros. Benefits Saline Community with Downtown Upgrades
Nearly completed, the U.S. 12 reconstruction project in Saline, Michigan, gives the downtown an updated look and a wider roadway for enhanced traffic flow.
"The U.S. 12 project in Saline was selected as a reconstruction project due to poor pavement conditions," explains Kari Arend, Spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). "The city of Saline also had aging infrastructure, water and sanitary, that needed to be replaced."
The water main downtown was 100 years old, and 30 years had past since the last infrastructure improvements had been completed.
"We also made the downtown more walkable," says Todd Campbell, City Manager of Saline. "It will benefit our community for decades to come."
The nearly mile-long project had been delayed several times due to financial constraints within MDOT. In the interim, MDOT was able to do a maintenance fix until it could add the project back into MDOT's Five Year Road and Bridge plan in 2016. The city and state DOT teamed up to complete both entity's projects and a city streetscape.
"Doing all the work at the same time - road and infrastructure - helped to reduce the impact to the motoring public while still making the necessary repairs," Arend says.
The city and MDOT received a $539,602 Transportation Alternatives Program Grant for the streetscape project. State and federal funds paid for 87 percent of the $11.1 million project, according to the city. Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber of Lansing, Michigan, managed the job for MDOT.
"We're very pleased; it was a great partnership within our community," Campbell says. "We had a terrific crew."
The project entailed widening U.S. 12 to five lanes, thereby adding a center turn lane; upgrading storm sewer and water main lines, improving the sidewalks and crosswalks with 12,000 square feet of brick paving, adding mid-block islands, upgrading traffic signals and street lighting, and adding planter boxes.
"It's a nice looking project," says Mike Mallos, Project Manager for Hoffman Bros. of Battle Creek, Michigan, which began the project in April 2016, completed all of the road reconstruction last year and has a few finishing touches and landscaping to finish this spring.
"The schedule was important," Mallos says. "We had one season to perform the job. It was a big job in a small amount of time."
"Maintaining access to the businesses was a top priority of the project," recalls Tom Gray, Senior Vice President with Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber. "With downtown projects, the big thing is people can access parking and businesses, and at the same time we have to balance that with construction."
Gray credits everyone working together as a team. U.S. 12 was reduced to one lane with the traffic in the other direction diverted to a parallel road.
"It was a matter of diligence in keeping the driveways open and communicating with businesses and residents," Mallos adds.
Hoffman Bros. kept parking lots open for drivers to park while walking to businesses and worked around the need to keep access during concerts. At some events, the contractor relocated the festival, and construction crews set up the concert venue for the city. That allowed the crews to continue working until just before the concert. Campbell expressed his appreciation for the team allowing the festivals to proceed.
"The contractor did an exceptional job of accommodating those needs," Gray says. "They modified their own operations to ease the impacts to businesses - a very positive job."
Excavation Benefits from Machine Control
Hoffman Bros. used Trimble Total Station Grade Control for all phases of the job. At one point, the company had three systems set up on the Saline job, one system for each operation, working on different aspects of the job.
"It helps accuracy, and it helps production," says Mallos, adding that Hoffman Bros. uses machine control on all projects. "It's another look at the grade."
A 3-D plan is imported into the computers on the heavy equipment. If an error occurs, Mallos says, it is easier to catch.
The road has a depth of 4 feet, due to the poor soil conditions. That includes 3 feet of sand subbase, 6 inches of aggregate and 6 inches of pavement. Hoffman Bros. excavated 46,132 cubic yards of dirt; added 42,300 cubic yards of sand subbase, 38,616 square yards of 21AA aggregate base; and placed 11,750 tons of asphalt pavement.
"The decision was made to undercut the entire job," Gray reports.
However, Mallos adds, "When you are that deep, you are hovering over a lot of existing sanitary service lines and water lines. You are tippy toeing above those services."
The project included a significant amount of utility relocation, including water mains, and storm and sanitary sewers. The team also found some unexpected utility lines.
"Until you start digging, you're not sure what you have," Gray says. "But it's not unusual with these downtown projects."
While excavating, crews found some abandoned street car tracks from the 1800s. The tracks were removed, after checking with the MDOT historical team to make sure there was no historical significance, Gray says. An art group is planning a sculpture with the track and the historical society plans a display with the track in the local depot museum.
"When you open up the earth that has not been opened for many moons, you find all sorts of things," Campbell said. "One of the highlights for the community was finding the tracks from our former street car."
Hoffman Bros. used vibration monitoring throughout the project to protect the adjacent buildings and storefronts. The company also modified its demolition techniques. Rather than lifting concrete and dropping it to break it, crews saw cut the concrete and removed it in sections.
"We never had any issues with vibration," Mallos says.
The team installed 13,000 linear feet of curb and gutter, 2,123 linear feet of sanitary sewer, 4,015 linear feet of ductile iron water main, 7,511 linear feet of storm sewer, 68,650 liner feet of electrical cable, seven traffic signals, 68 copper water services and 54 sanitary service leads.
The work progressed smoothly and remained on budget and schedule. Citizens are now driving on the new and improved road.
"Everyone worked as a team," Gray says. "It was a positive project because of that and the key to the success of the job."