Indiana DOT Modernizes I-65 Corridor
By adding new travel lanes on Interstate 65 in Indiana, the transportation department aims to improve traffic flow and modernize the 13-mile stretch of the interstate using a design-build-best value method, which saved millions of dollars and months of construction.
"The design-build-best value process is another way Indiana is leading the nation in innovative project delivery for transportation infrastructure," says Doug Moats, Media Relations Director for the Northwest District of INDOT.
The $62 million I-65 Northwest Indiana Expansion project will add one travel lane in each direction. Overpasses at 93rd, 113th, 137th and 153rd avenues will be resurfaced, and the contractor, Walsh Construction Co. of Chicago, will make bridge improvements on I-65 at 109th Avenue, U.S. 231 and State Road 2. Bridge improvements at 101st Avenue will be let under a separate Lake County contract in 2018.
The northbound and southbound bridges over the Kankakee River will be replaced to accommodate future expansion of the I-65 corridor, south of the bridges.
Selecting a Delivery Method and Team
INDOT has completed several public-private partnerships (P3). This is the first to use the INDOT P3 criteria, says Michael Ready, Project Manager for Innovative Project Delivery with the Indiana Department of Transportation in LaPorte. Unlike some former Indiana P3 projects, once this I-65 expansion is complete, INDOT will assume maintenance responsibility. The department uses a screening tool to determine whether a project might benefit from a P3 delivery method.
"We consider whether the project is one that a team can add innovation," Ready says. "This checked all of the boxes and met that criteria."
INDOT issued a request for qualifications in December 15, 2015, and received four proposals. Department officials and consultant staff reviewed the proposals on price and technical value. Walsh Construction Company II, with lead designer Parsons Transportation Group was selected as the preferred proposer team.
The design-build-best value project is administered through a public-private agreement. It encourages contractors to propose value-added construction solutions that may accelerate construction and reduce costs.
"Design-build-best value is a contracting method where INDOT establishes the project scope, technical requirements, and in some cases, the budget it is willing to invest. And engineering and construction firms form teams to compete for the contract to design and build the project," Moats explains.
Moats adds, the "method allows the design and construction to happen consecutively, rather than in sequence, speeding the construction timeline. Also, by inviting teams to compete in preparing both a technical and financial proposal, taxpayers benefit from added value and innovation in design, efficiency in construction and overall cost savings that would not be possible using a traditional "˜low-bid' process."
INDOT awarded the contract to Walsh Construction Co. in November 2016. Design began in January and construction in May. The project is on track for completion in October 2018. Walsh is working day and night.
The Walsh team's proposal achieved savings of nearly 22 percent below original engineering estimates of about $85 million, and the project will be completed nearly 18 months ahead of the planned schedule.
"Getting it done sooner added value," Ready says. "I'm not sure how they were able to do that."
Additionally the team committed to an 11 percent disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) goal, higher than the 10 percent proposed by the state in the request for proposals. The increase amounted to an additional $500,000 in work awarded to disadvantaged businesses.
"Walsh and Parsons was the only team that added value by increasing the DBE percentage," Ready says. "They are involving more disadvantaged business owners to get them work on this project, which we thought was fantastic."
Construction in Three Segments
All work is taking place within existing right of way. The project has been divided into three segments: from U.S. 231 to south of U.S. 30; south of SR 2 to U.S. 231; and the Kankakee River Bridges.
In the first segment, crews are adding 12 feet of outside shoulders and turning the original shoulder into a travel lane. The pavement will be concrete, matching the existing pavement.
From SR 2 to U.S. 231, Walsh is adding additional travel lanes in the median. The road will be full-depth asphalt in this section, again matching the existing pavement.
At the Kankakee River, Walsh is replacing the original three-span structures with single span bridges. The original bridges were 300 feet and the new ones will be about 200 feet.
The I-65 bridges over the river will have a superstructure with 93-inch-deep steel plate girders made up of hybrid Grade 50W on the top flange and web and HPS 70W on the bottom flange, weathering steel painted at the ends over the end bents and MSE walls.
"The design-build team's innovative single-span Kankakee River Bridge lessens environmental impacts and reduces bridge length which reduces future maintenance costs," Moats says.
The existing bridges had drains, so rainwater could flow into the river. Because the new bridges are shorter, the bridge is higher in the middle than on the ends, so water will drain onto the land and filter through it before reaching the river.
"It keeps the salts and chloride from having direct access to the river," Ready says.
During construction, the team has kept two lanes of traffic open in each direction during rush hours. To improve safety, it added rumble strips, which vibrate the vehicle when entering a lane shift or a lane taper. Additional signage was installed to provide visual alerts, and raised pavement markers add visibility to the lane shifts and tapers, especially at night or in bad weather.
Additionally, Walsh crews are building box structures, essentially tunnels, under the new bridges. The structures are 12 feet high and 13 feet wide, large enough to drive a vehicle through, without interrupting bridge traffic. It will give hunters access to the area under the bridges on both sides of the river.
The project has gone smoothly and remains within the budget.
"I have been working on this project since November 2015, and it's been a great opportunity for me and my pleasure to be able to proudly highlight the innovations," Ready concludes. "And more importantly, the taxpayers of Indiana will benefit from utilizing the design-build-best value procurement method."