Volvo Interchange Project Readies Berkeley County for Manufacturing Growth
South Carolina DOT Prepares Berkeley County for Arrival of Increased Manufacturing
Manufacturing is on the rise in rural South Carolina. Camp Hall Commerce Park, located in Berkeley County, will see its first tenant, Swedish car maker Volvo, open sometime this year.
Volvo, which is serving as an anchor to the Camp Hall Commerce Park, is expected to employ in the neighborhood of 4,000 people. With more manufacturing space available in the Camp Hall Commerce Park, a ripple effect is expected, and even more people will be making the trek to the rural county for their employment.
Volvo’s arrival will have a major impact on the local community and the greater Charleston area. The impact will be apparent in terms of both direct jobs and support jobs. While the pickup in manufacturing and jobs that will come from the opening of the Volvo factory will be a net positive for the area, it will also lead to more traffic in the area.
Determining Traffic Impacts
The roads in rural Berkeley County are not designed to handle the expected increase in traffic, so discussions were held on the traffic impacts. It was ultimately determined that the expected traffic flow due to the buildup in the area would require upgrades to the infrastructure. To facilitate the increased traffic flow, the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is constructing the Volvo Interchange Project, a three-leg directional interchange.
The three-leg directional interchange is being built along I-26 and will provide direct access from the Interstate to the new Volvo Boulevard which leads to Camp Hall Commerce Park and the Volvo Manufacturing Facility. The new interchange will include both at-grade and flyover ramps. As part of the project, there will also be asphalt median widening, installation of traffic controls, bridge work, and erosion and sediment control, and clearing and grubbing.
Daniel Burton is a Resident Construction Engineer with the SCDOT, and is responsible for oversight of the VolvoInterchange Project. He says, “The new interchange is needed to address the anticipated traffic associated with the CampHall Commerce Park facility as the adjacent roads are not adequate to handle the expected traffic.”
According to Burton, the SCDOT estimates that there could be up to 16,000 trips per day in and out of the Camp Hall Commerce Park. “Our new interchange is built to handle the anticipated traffic demands and get people on and off the interstate efficiently,”says Burton. He expects that in the future other adjacent routes will also be expanded and or newly constructed in order to receive the expected extra trips derived from the Camp Hall Commerce Park facility.
A Tight Schedule
The contract for the Volvo Interchange Project was awarded in December of 2016 and notice to proceed was granted in March of 2017. The goal is to finish one particular ramp this year, prior to the opening of the Volvo plant and for the entire project to be completed in early 2019. “It's a tight time frame, and it will require us to use every calendar day to get it done,”says Burton.
As of now, the project is on time. Burton credits the design-build team for keeping the project on schedule. The keys to keeping any team on task arecommunication, the ability to collaborate, and the capacity to work through challenges. These traits can be found in the Volvo Interchange Project Team. Burton saysof them, “They have worked well together, have been able to partner effectively, and there has been great transparency of any challenges.”
The pre-award team was made up of the South Carolina Department of Commerce, SCDOT, and Berkeley County, and the post award team consists of Conti Enterprises, JMT, SCDOT, and HDR (who representsthe owner for CE&I and design review service). Burton praises the team and says, “The team's ability to react quickly and make associated changes has been impressive. They have and continue to look at the bigger picture and keep progress moving.”
Wet, Swampy Conditions
As construction has proceeded, the biggest challenge the team has faced is “fairly wet conditions”.This challenge was not a surprise, and, in fact, the conditions were expected. According to Burton, builders in the area know of the conditions as they are typical. “We knew it would be an area of challenge, and the design-build team planned accordingly. The wet land has not had an overly negative effect upon the constructionprocess or timetable thus far,”says Burton.
The construction team hadto find ways to work around the swampy conditions. Ground improvements in the form of wick drains have already been installed in some locations. In addition, a cement treatment has been added to the existing ground to stiffen up the soil and stabilize thearea. In those wet areas where the soil can not be treated sufficiently, new embankment fields have been set up to get the interstate up and over the wet areas.
This design-build project is a lump sum project. According to Burton, the value of the project is approximately $44 million. The project is on budget and Burton expects it stay that way, “unless we have unexpected change orders.”The wet land and the steps to deal with it did not impact the costs originally set aside to handle it.
The number of people onsite and involved with the construction in any capacity at one time hasbeen anywhere from 150 to 250. This includes everyone from designees, to contractors, to subcontractors. The construction equipment utilized in the project to date includes cranes, excavators, dozers, front loaders and other specialty equipment associated with clearing and grubbing operations.
Rural Berkeley County in South Carolina will experience economic growth due to the incoming Volvo Plant in the Camp Hill Commerce Park. With the expectation that more manufacturers will join Volvo, the area can anticipate a burgeoning of activity. This activity will lead to more jobs and greater prosperity for the townspeople and beyond. However, challenges will also come with this bounty. SCDOT is prepared to meet the challenge of incoming traffic with the construction of the Volvo Interchange.