McNeil Brothers Brings Smart Paving Technology to Arizona DOT Highway Project
McNeil Brothers recently completed work on a 2-mile stretch of interstate in Tucson. It is a project for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) that involves widening Interstate 10 to four lanes of traffic in each direction between Ruthrauff Road and Prince Road in Tucson. This new stretch of interstate was needed to better handle increasing traffic demands in the city. Entrance and exit ramps are also being rebuilt to improve access to the traveling public.
McNeil Brothers, based out of Phoenix, Arizona, is a concrete paving and barrier contractor that was formed in 1994 and completes work throughout the Southwest. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pulice Construction Inc.
For the project, McNeil Brothers purchased a new GOMACO Two-Track GP-4000 Paver with a 5400 series mold and In-The-Pan Dowel Bar Inserter (IDBI). They also equipped their new paver with two paver-mounted GOMACO Smoothness Indicator (GSI) units.
"It's 84 feet of paving at its widest point, including the four through lanes, shoulders, on/off ramps, and even some frontage roads that go along with it," explained Matt McNeil, Vice President of McNeil Brothers.
The company has their mobile batch plant on site mixing the standard concrete mix with a 57 aggregate. Slump averages between one to 1.25 inches. Fifteen trucks run between the mobile batch plant and the paver, each carrying a 10 cubic yard load. The concrete is dumped directly onto the grade in front of the paver.
The GP-4000 is paving the passes 24-feet-wide and 15 inches thick. The paver is equipped with three different bar insertion systems, including a front-mounted center bar inserter, two rear-mounted side bar inserters, and the IDBI that inserts the dowel bars for the transverse joint.
The IDBI is inserting 22 dowel bars across the width of the slab, spaced on 12-inch centers. Each bar is 18 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter. Joints are every 15 feet.
Experience with IDBI
McNeil Brothers are seasoned professionals paving with an IDBI and have been using one on a GOMACO paver since 1996. In fact, they helped GOMACO field test the IDBI. They paved with it on a project in Phoenix. After a successful test and verification of accurate bar placement, they purchased one of their own for a project in Las Vegas, Nevada, and many others.
"If concrete placing is going to include dowels on a majority of the work, we feel like we need an inserter to be competitive," McNeil said. "We believe that this is easier and less labor intensive than setting dowel baskets. To us, that was always a fight."
Now, after upgrading IDBI systems over the years, they're using GOMACO's newest dowel bar insertion system. It's already been used in the field on four-track pavers, but McNeil's is the first one for a two-track GP-4000 paver. Interstate 10 is the first of many highway projects they will pave with it.
"GOMACO has improved a lot of the IDBI's convenience issues and cleaned everything up," McNeil explained. "I like the use of smart cylinders, the bar cart works better, the painting and marking system is better, and the control system is easier... It's numerous small improvements from years of research and development to the IDBI that makes the system work so much better."
Another feature new to McNeil's and their paver are the paver-mounted GSI units for monitoring the smoothness of their newly paved roadway. ADOT uses the two-tenths blanking band to measure smoothness. McNeil Brothers is averaging less than 1-inch on the project. Their ride has been so good that they decided to see what the numbers averaged on the IRI.
"We've consistently been under an 80 and I am impressed," McNeil said. "The GSI gives us instant feedback and you can watch what happens going through the paver, see what it does, and what effect it has on the ride, so we can make instantaneous changes instead of waiting until the next day." The GSI also helps determine the optimum paving speed for maximum rideability by providing instant feedback on variable factors including the concrete itself. McNeil Brothers' production averages 250 cubic yards an hour on I-10.
"Different concrete mixes will like different paving speeds, or if you're going to pave faster you run the concrete a little bit wetter," McNeil explained. "The GSI takes the guesswork out of all of it. If we're running a little bit wetter, dryer, faster. We know how it's affecting our ride and have that information on the spot. That makes it a valuable tool."A GOMACO T/C-600 Texture/Cure Machine follows the paver applying a burlap drag finish with longitudinal tining and white spray cure.
With the completion of the Interstate 10 widening project, McNeil Brothers expanded out their GP-4000 and IDBI to 36 feet and started work on another one of Arizona's highway projects.