Toebe Construction Partners with Michigan DOT to Complete Westbound Construction on I-196
Rebuilding Interstate with a Team Approach: Strong Communication Between Toebe Construction, Michigan DOT, and Subcontractors Create Success for I-196 Westbound Project
Drivers on westbound Interstate 196 in Hudsonville, Michigan, have a smoother ride thanks to a $22 million reconstruction project completed in September.
“The concrete was deteriorating, and it was a constant battle with maintenance, filling potholes,” says Gregg Zack, Construction Engineer for the Muskegon area for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). “It’s now a stretch of road that will be in excellent condition for a very long time.”
About 55,000 vehicles pass through the area daily on the four-lane highway. Due to budgetary concerns, MDOT decided to complete the westbound side of I-196 last year and then tackle the eastbound this year, under a separate contract.
The I-196 project includes new drainage to try to prevent future potholes; signage; traffic signals; widened off-ramp to 32nd Avenue; and bridge improvements at 22nd and 32nd avenues.
MDOT plans to let the eastbound reconstruction in January, with a June 2020 start. During that project, traffic will shift to the westbound lanes.
Walter A Toebe founded Toebe Construction in 1922 as a small bridge building company. In 2010, the company ventured into concrete paving. Toebe works throughout Michigan on complex heavy civil projects that include highways, roads, bridges, tunnels, airport runways and aprons. Toebe Construction also self-performs site excavation and underground utility work within the state of Michigan.
“It’s a growing company,” says Chris Mondon, Project Manager for Toebe Construction. “We perform almost every stage of construction in the heavy civil industry.”
Toebe participated in some preconstruction activities. Using value engineering change proposals, the company’s team suggested traffic management changes that, ultimately, helped traffic flow and the ability of getting contractor vehicles in and out of the site safely. “It all worked out well,” says Mondon.
For most of the five miles, traffic shifted and shared the eastbound lanes, with crossovers, which were built in 2018. In a stretch of the westbound from M-6 until the end of the project at 32nd street, traffic stayed on the westbound lanes, with workers separated from vehicles by a concrete barrier wall, to accommodate traffic from westbound M-6.
“The most challenging part of the job was constructing the project in two stages, part width,” Mondon says. “We started on the median side of the roadway and constructed the inside lane and median shoulder, moved the barrier wall, and then constructed the outside lanes and shoulder. What made it so difficult was getting our trucks in and out of the work zone with many activities going on simultaneously.”
Throughout the project, MDOT kept residents updated about big staging changes with social media, official press releases and updates on the MiDrive website. Additionally, people could sign up for email notification of lane closures.
A Sharp Subcontractor Team
Work began in mid-April 2019. Toebe self-performed the concrete paving but subcontracted other aspects of the project.
Subcontractor D.J. McQuestion & Sons of LeRoy, Michigan, installed a concrete crusher on site in the M-6 interchange. Crews milled off the existing asphalt overlaying on an existing concrete pavement. Once completed, crews worked on removing the existing reinforced concrete, picked out the steel reinforcing and took the concrete to the onsite crusher, crushed to MDOT specifications and used it for the open graded drainage course. Crews used the picks and claws on the excavator to separate out the steel, which was hauled to a scrap yard. McQuestion also completed the excavation and dirt work and added under drains along the length of the project.
“McQuestion played a big role on the project and did a fabulous job,” Mondon says.
Subcontractor Anlaan Corp. of Grand Haven, Michigan, replaced joints, patched the deck and placed an epoxy overlay on the bridges. Atsalis Brothers Painting of Warren, Michigan, painted some of the steel fascia beams.
“Managing the subcontractors was challenging,” Mondon admits. “I give a whole lot of credit to our field superintendent, Jim Stover. He and I were in constant contact, with scheduling and weather events.”
The key remains communication with all of the subcontractors.
“Our field guys did a good job with all of the different subcontractors,” adds Bret Sommers, Assistant Construction Engineer with MDOT. “There were headaches, but we powered through it. And it turned out to be a good job.”
The subgrade was clay, but heavy rains in the spring, from April until June, posed problems early on, and the department added some under drains to the plans.
“McQuestion performed undercuts in locations where the subgrade was soft and saturated due to the heavy amounts of rain and placed under drains in the road to stabilize the soft subgrade locations,” Mondon says.
McQuestion used sand to stabilize the undercut sections.
The contractor rebuilt the road in the same footprint of the old road. Even so, there were environmental concerns. Toebe earned kudos from the environmental inspectors for its work in separating an area with endangered plant species from the construction activity with an orange snow fence.
“The contractor did a great job with it, and the environmentalists who came out to the project were happy with how we set it up and fenced it off,” Zack says.
Toebe placed a portable concrete batch plant in the infield, making and delivering all of the concrete necessary for paving. Throughout the project, Toebe used a GOMACO GHP 2800 Paver with Leica Geosystems 3-D guidance, eliminating the need for stringlines.
“It’s more accurate,” Mondon says. “We take the survey data and upload the coordinates and points into the equipment, which makes our paving more precise. In addition, it makes delivering concrete to the paver much more efficient.”
As the project progressed, Toebe made up time and completed the job on time in.
“It was all around a great team effort,” Mondon says. “The MDOT staff was fabulous to work with and a great group of guys. Everyone played the role they needed to play to make it a great project.”
MDOT had five full-time inspectors on the project, plus inspectors from Alfred Benesch & Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“It turned out really nice,” Zack says. “It was a really aggressive schedule; however, the contractor provided the necessary man hours to complete the project on time. The result is a quality improvement to the corridor.”