Geofoam saves time, money during three projects
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has promoted the use of expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam as a lightweight embankment soil alternative for a number of years.
In a 2006 report, the agency’s Technical Service Team described the material as a “field-tested, budget-friendly winner.” Why? FHWA engineers list the following benefits:
Payroll, transportation and equipment cost savings
Reduced labor time for construction
Exerts little or no lateral load on retaining structures
Easily constructed in limited right-of-way situations
Allows application in adverse weather conditions
The material is approximately 100 times lighter than soil, which saves time. Additionally, a single truck can carry approximately 120 cubic yards of geofoam versus 12 dump truck loads needed for an equivalent volume of earthen fill. This reduces hauling costs, both in fuel and labor. Geofoam is easy to install by hand, so it reduces expenses for heavy equipment.
Following is a discussion of tangible benefits derived from geofoam usage in real-world applications.
I-80 / I-65 interchange
For the I-80 / I-65 interchange in Gary, Indiana, FHWA recommended a net-zero load methodology for the roadbed to prevent post-construction settlement.
To reduce the amount of excavation of the high-organic content soils, the contractor, Walsh Construction, used EPS geofoam blocks. A six-member crew installed 700 cubic yards of geofoam in one week working four- to five-hour days. The geofoam was delivered to the job site on 32 flatbed truckloads, whereas traditional fills would have required more than 400 dump trucks in the highly congested project area leading into and out of metro Chicago.
Valsayn, Trinidad highway interchange
The project team for an interchange between Trinidad’s Churchill-Roosevelt Highway (CRH) and Uriah Butler Highway (UBH), the island nation’s primary highways, used an EPS geofoam sub-base to solve an engineering challenge and save time in the process.
Highway geometry required placing new lanes adjacent to both sides of an existing fly-over ramp’s support pier. The grade for the lanes required placement of about 10 feet of embankment fill on top of the pier’s pile cap. Engineers determined that traditional fills would have caused unacceptable settlement of the compressive layers located below the fill.
To build the embankment while keeping loads down on the pile cap, Vinci Construction Grands Projets specified EPS geofoam as a lightweight fill, which provided an alternative to building a concrete slab founded on piles to support the load from the road and transfer it away from the pier pile cap. No heavy equipment was needed for the fill placement, as crews were able to install the geofoam blocks by hand.
The geofoam resulted in lower and smoother post-construction differential settlements of the roadway in both the transversal and longitudinal directions. It also eliminated the need for additional geotechnical investigation for potential additional piles.
The ability to place the EPS geofoam during the rainy season was crucial to keeping the project on schedule. Crews placed 2,100 cubic yards of EPS geofoam in only 3.5 days.
Lake Cataouatche pump station bridge
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers used EPS geofoam when it needed to build a service bridge over above-ground outlet pipes at the Lake Cataouatche pump station near New Orleans.
The bridge abutments are over extremely soft soil (compressible peat). A traditional soil embankment would have added substantial load to the underlying soils.
To minimize loads on the soft soils, the project team used EPS geofoam under the bridge abutments.
In addition to being lightweight, EPS geofoam has predictable elastic behavior and will not decompose. Further, unlike other lightweight fills such as shredded tires or wood chips, EPS geofoam blocks are homogenous, which provides uniform load transfer and eliminates differential settlement. All of these factors combine to make the material an ideal choice in many road sub-base applications at the federal, state and local levels.
About the author: Nico Sutmoller is the geofoam specialist for Insulfoam, a division of Carlisle Construction Materials. Insulfoam is North America’s largest manufacturer of block-molded expanded polystyrene (EPS). Nico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternative fuel-powered Dodge Ram touted as cost-effective transportation industry option
A Dodge Ram powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) is wrapped to promote the 2014 Land Investment Expo in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Legendary oil-and-gas entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens, who is working to meet the transportation industry’s need for cost-effective alternative fuels, will deliver a keynote address during the seventh annual event presented by Peoples Company on Jan. 24 in the heart of ag country.
Alternative fuels are making a lot of buzz right now, especially with the recent U.S. energy boom. Although CNG might not quite be progressing at a rapid pace for “yellow iron” construction equipment, many dealers are embracing the alternative fuel for lighter equipment for municipalities as well as smaller equipment and work trucks.
Check out the video to the right to learn about what T. Boone Pickens calls “a Natural Gas Highway.”
Click here for a downloadable PDF with more information about the Land Investment Expo.
25 Days of RollOuts: Cat Paving Products Guide to Soil Compaction
The Cat Paving Products Guide to Soil Compaction released this year as a companion to the Cat Paving Products Guide to Asphalt Compaction released last year.
The book also features more than 100 photographs and illustrations and provides information on soil types and classifications, application, and quality control.
Field test options also are examined.
Editor’s note: We’re sharing all of our Top RollOuts throughout the month of December. To see them all, check out our 25 Days of RollOuts.
Ohio law leaves motorists in the cold
When the temperature outside is in the single digits or subzero, I like to start my car and wait a few minutes for it to get warm and toasty before I get in to drive to my destination.
However, I just found out I may be left out in the cold with my plans.
According to the Ohio Revised Code 4511.661 for “Unattended motor vehicles,” it’s illegal to do so. Anyone who leaves a vehicle running unattended – even just to warm it up – is subject to a $150 fine and can be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor. If you’re caught twice within a year, the misdemeanor is moved up to a third-degree misdemeanor.
The law doesn’t specifically exclude private property from the statute, which means you might have to pay up with a fine for leaving a car running even in your own driveway.
“No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition, effectively setting the parking brake and, when the motor vehicle is standing upon grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway,” the Ohio Revised Code states.
According to a Cleveland Scene magazine report on this Ohio statute, the Ohio Insurance Institute suggests the law may have been instituted to deter car theft, though the report notes that environmental issues may also be a concern.
There may be a workaround. The statute’s wording is unclear as to vehicles that have been started with remote start devices would be exempt from the fine and legal charges since the vehicle’s engine is started without a key.
By the way, this law has been effective since Jan. 1, 2004 – almost a decade – and it’s the first I’ve heard of it. The law remains in effect until 2017.
That means a little more than three years to go before Ohioans can get into a warm car in the winter without risking a fine.
I understand the environmental ramifications and certainly don’t want to encourage car theft, but I also don’t want my poor children to be freezing as I take them to school or the store. For that matter, I don’t want my own rear-end to be freezing!
Proposed bill would raise federal gas tax by $0.15 for highway funding
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced into the House on Wednesday a bill that would nearly double federal fuel taxes as a means of funding highways, according to a report from our sister site Overdrive.
Blumenauer said the $0.15-per-gallon increase would be a short-term option to make up for shortfalls in the dwindling Highway Trust Fund (HTF) — which is projected to have a negative balance by 2015 — rather than a long-term funding solution.
The bill, known as the UPDATE Act, would begin phasing in fuel tax increases next year, index the tax to inflation and replace the gas tax with a long-term solution by 2024.
Overdrive points out that the ideas in the bill come from recommendations by the Simpson-Bowles report, the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission and the National Surface Transportation Financing Commission.
According to Politico’s “Morning Transportation” on Thursday, the UPDATE Act is garnering support from groups such as the U.S. Chamber, AAA, the American Trucking Association (ATA) and unions.
And though the bill lacks a cosponsor, Politico notes that a GOP member has anonymously confirmed consideration of cosponsoring.
Politico adds that Blumenauer has a separate bill that would allow for a future VMT program. However, his current focus is on kick-starting reauthorization conversations.
Metro-North derailment demonstrates need for infrastructure investment, says LaHood
The southbound Metro-North train, which was carrying about 150 passengers, derailed in the Bronx around 7:20 a.m. on Sunday, killing four passengers and injuring 60 people, including the engineer, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
“The problem is we’re not first in infrastructure anymore,” LaHood said. “We’re 14th in the world, and at one time we were first in infrastructure.”
“It’s going to be up to Congress, it’s going to be up to the Administration, it’s going to be up to the people to decide that they are sick and tired of driving on crumbling roads, driving on bad bridges — dangerous bridges — and riding on 50-year-old transit systems that are in very bad need of repair,” he added.
LaHood said that although the Department of Transportation receives funding for infrastructure, it isn’t enough. In 2009, the DOT received a $48 billion federal stimulus from the $800 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; the money was to be used to fund transportation projects over two years.
“Rather than $48 billion it should have been $480 billion,” he said.
LaHood noted that, despite a lack of federal funding, some states have made investments when voters approved referendums that increase transportation funding and spending.
“In states where they have made the investments, they have good infrastructure,” he said.
He added that lawmakers in D.C. “are afraid to make these kind of investments.”
LaHood said “the message that needs to be delivered to Washington, D.C.” is that states are raising revenue for transportation investments because the people are voting for those referendums.
“The people are way ahead of the politicians on this,” LaHood said. “They know that their roads are crumbling, and they know that their bridges are unsafe. They know their transit systems need new infrastructure.”
“We need the leadership of people to stand up and say we’ve got to make the investments and spend the money correctly, put friends and neighbors to work and make America number one in infrastructure again,” he said.
25 Days of RollOuts: Cargill AccuBatch Automatically Measures Brine
Cargill Deicing Technology’s AccuBatch brine maker has an automatic brine concentration measurement sensor so there is no need to manually check and recheck brine concentration for optimum levels.
The brine maker has a plug-and-play design and a quick cleanout that can be completed by just one operator.
The brine maker is made from durable marine-grade fiberglass.
Editor’s note: We’re sharing all of our Top RollOuts throughout the month of December. To see them all, check out our 25 Days of RollOuts.
U.S. toll industry expected to be stable in 2014
Moody’s Investors Services announced Wednesday that it has updated its 2014 outlook on the U.S. toll industry, changing its outlook to stable from negative in its report “2014 Outlook — US Toll Roads.”
The negative outlook comes from the company’s research on traffic growth on toll roads as well as toll revenue. Moody’s says the outlook “expresses Moody’s expectations for the fundamental business conditions in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months.”
The rate of traffic growth is expected to continue to be slow in 2014, but Maria Matesanz, a Moody’s Senior Vice President, points out that the slower growth is becoming a trend.
“The rate of traffic growth is slowing down overall and so the slower, albeit more stable growth rates reflect a ‘new normal,’” Matesanz says.
Moody’s notes that a recession or rising gasoline costs could shift the outlook back to negative. The company also notes that it is not likely to “take a positive view of the industry in 2014.”
Here are some highlights from the report:
Moody’s expects a median growth of 1.5 percent on toll roads in 2014, a comeback from a nearly 3-percent decline in 2009.
The company expects toll revenue to increase by around 5 percent in 2013 and 2014, marking a slowdown from an 11.2-percent climb in 2012.
Moody’s anticipates toll traffic growth to be 2 to 3 percent below gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
To read the full report, click here.
States Aren’t Waiting Around for Federal Support
The nation’s infrastructure system can be likened to an economic circulatory system – giving us freedom, opportunity and mobility – and this should never be taken for granted, said former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves at the Infrastructure for the Future (IFF) Summit held in Washington, D.C., last month.
“We should never undervalue the greatness and freedom our nation’s roads provide,” says Graves, now president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations.
This means understanding highways and bridges aren’t free – and they certainly aren’t cheap. It also means there’s no solution to the transportation-funding challenge that will be free. Touching on the current two-year transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), which expires at the end of September and the Highway Trust Fund’s impending insolvency in 2015, Graves quickly pointed out devolving to the states is not the answer.
With action lacking at the federal level, states stepped up to address the funding challenges by getting creative and taking action. Wyoming just increased fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon to fund the state’s infrastructure. This legislation passed, too, with a Republican-dominated state government. Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell just signed a transportation bill in Pennsylvania, showing that states aren’t waiting around. However, the state Departments of Transportation might be setting a dangerous precedent. “Every state will tell you we need a federal [transportation funding] program,” notes Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), at the IFF Summit.
Without a federal a component to work with the states, “we’ll have the most expensive gravel road ever built in America,” adds Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman.
Instead of letting the problem fester and hoping it will go away, a long-term, sustainable solution needs to be developed at the federal level. David Abney, chief operating officer of the United Parcel Service (UPS), has done the math about how much it’s costing by not moving forward and the critical role transportation plays in our nation. It’s astounding.
UPS delivers nearly 16.3 million packages every day, except starting around Dec. 17, when that number rises to about 29 million packages. That’s a lot of transportation for a lot of packages and a lot of money for the economy. It’s 6 percent of the U.S. GDP and 2 percent of global GPD. Just five minutes of congestion costs UPS $105 million.
For a company that has evolved from a patchwork of hand-drawn maps to a true network with calculated logistics, UPS champions treating infrastructure with a holistic approach and not in state-segregated silos. “We may cross several states, but we need a holistic system connected in the best way,” Abney says.
That’s what we need. The states have stepped up. Now it’s time for a holistic approach at the federal level.
The Last Word
Squats for train tickets
In exchange for knocking out 30 squats, you can score a free subway ticket – worth about a buck – at Russia’s Vystavochnaya station, west of Moscow, according to a Wired report.
Why the free fare?
The physical exertion in exchange for a free ride is aimed at getting people active and excited for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, which begin in February.
For a video of people squatting for tickets, go to wired.com/autopia/2013/11/squats-train-ticket. (The video has no words but has captions in Russian overlaid on the video.)
Woman skydives into moving car
This is one way to travel: start by skydiving and end up in a moving car to get you to the next location.
Traveling between 20 to 40 mph in the air, 28-year-old nurse Katie Hansen from Northern California landed into a moving Mustang convertible as part of an extreme sports event in Norway, according to ThePostGame. The car was traveling at about 40 mph.
Hansen performed the car stunt this past summer, but a video of the stunt made its way to the AviatorShow channel on YouTube in early November.
Check out the video of the incredible stunt on AviatorShow’s YouTube channel: youtube.com/user/theav8tqr.
First coast-to-coast highway celebrates 100th birthday
The highway now is made up of “a patchwork of already existing roads,” says Kay Shelton, president of the Lincoln Highway Association and a Northern Illinois University professor told National Public Radio (NPR).
The route was intended to be the straightest possible shot between New York City and San Francisco, Shelton told NPR, but the highway was updated when newer, straighter or smoother legs of the roadway were found.
The idea of the Lincoln Highway came from Carl Fisher, who was also responsible for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Miami Beach. The route, comprised of both existing and newly built roads following the most direct route possible, ran from New York to San Francisco, covering about 3,400 miles, according to The Lincoln Highway Association (lincolnhighwayassoc.org).
The Lincoln Highway Association was created in 1913 to promote the road using private and corporate donations.
- PHOTOS: Chevy unveils 2015 Colorado pickup, available fall 2014554 Views
- VIDEO: This concrete buffer is nearly unstoppable392 Views
- With lack of transportation funding, highway contractors shift to other fields275 Views
- 25 Days of RollOuts: Cat Introduces Four New D Series Skid Steers269 Views
- Construction industry avoids list of 10 worst jobs for the future267 Views