Homeless forced to relocate due to bridge construction

fresnotentsSeveral homeless men who live beneath the 9th Street overpass in Jeffersonville, Indiana, have been forced to move. That’s because Walsh Construction has begun demolition as part of a new phase of Ohio River Bridges Project.

This is not the first time the homeless have been forced to move. Last year around a dozen homeless living under the 7th Street overpass were relocated when it closed.

Last year officials were forced to apologize to the Jeffersonville-Clarksville Homelessness Task Force after a subcontractor cleared a homeless encampment just east of Interstate 65 in Jeffersonville. Following the incident, the city adopted a policy that requires the task force to give 48 hours notice before removing items belonging to homeless people.

Project officials have said homeless people living in a construction area is a matter of safety. “If we see someone in an obvious unsafe position, we have to do something,” said Max Rowland, a Walsh project manager.

Rowland says the construction company has had incidents involving the homeless in the past. One incident involved an intoxicated homeless man who refused to leave the area. Another time a homeless man stole a worker’s lunch box.

Barbara Anderson, executive director of Haven House, estimates Southern Indiana needs 200 units of affordable housing, and more intensive case management, in order to keep the homeless out from underneath state bridges.

Have some time to kill? Check out this video of a half-mile, 30 million-pound bridge sliding into place over the Ohio River.

Recent toll road poll proves nothing; private financing of public roads is still a bad idea

traffic jamThe Reason Foundation and the Alliance for Toll-Free Interstates recently traded jabs over a poll that purports to show Americans prefer toll roads as a solution to our declining transportation infrastructure.

Not unexpectedly, the Reason-Rupe Poll  found favor with Reason’s longstanding position advocating toll roads. The Alliance shot back with a press release citing a Rasmussen Report that said two-thirds of Americans oppose a White House plan to toll existing interstates.

I have news for the both of them. Polls may help marketers sell toothpaste and tell politicians which side to part their hair on, but they’re a lousy way to shape policy.

Fact number one is the average American is blithely ignorant of even the basic facts of almost every public policy issue extant. If FDR had followed the polls he would have let Europe fall to the Nazis and Asia to Imperial Japan. If Truman or Eisenhower had governed by polls we likely would have dropped nuclear bombs on China and Russia.

Fact number two: transportation infrastructure and its funding mechanisms are complex issues. Given that most Americans know almost nothing about history, science, finance or current events, one would certainly not expect them to enlighten us with their wisdom when it comes to something only the policy wonks understand.

Last year I watched, dumbfounded, an amazing half-hour of television wherein Fox news put together a panel of talking heads to examine the infrastructure funding crisis. Not a single person on the panel knew the first thing about gas taxes or the relationship between state and federal funding mechanism. But that didn’t stop them from filling a half-hour pretending they did. So if the number one cable news channel in the country can’t bother to do it’s research or learn the facts, are we really to expect that the average man on the street is going to know any better?

As I have written before in this space, the private funding of public infrastructure is a bad idea, a giant money grab by the big banks and politically connected mega-construction companies. Many of these companies are in fact international consortiums, accountable to nobody but their bondholders. And as the defeat by voters of the Trans-Texas Corridor  proved, most citizens of the Lone Star State don’t want to pay money to Spain for the right to use their own roads.

The Reason Foundation purports to be a libertarian think tank, and I have a lot of sympathy for the libertarian point of view. But when it comes to highway funding they’re clearly on the side of the big banks, the crony capitalists and the government entities that would enable the financial world to build our roads for X number of dollars and charge us 3X dollars, or more, to use them.

The current gas tax system of financing most highway construction is a pay-as-you-go system, fiscally sound and sober. P3s are like a zero-down home loan that you never pay off, just continually refinance into the indefinite future until the bill comes due to your children. Is this what libertarians stand for?

No doubt the poll wars will continue. Polls give readers simplistic, easy to understand nuggets of information and in the age of Facebook and Twitter appeal to people’s narcissism.  But policy or governance by polls is posturing, not leadership.

Our 32nd, 33rd and 34th presidents made tough decisions that sometimes ran counter to public opinion—and America and the world are the better for it. They broke the back of fascism, kept the peace and built the interstate highway system. Would only we had that kind of courage and intellectual fortitude in Washington today.

This article was written by Tom Jackson, Executive Editor of Equipment World.

VIDEO: Country music star Kip Moore's ballad for the construction industry

Kip Moore On the Case

Kip Moore has penned his share of hits, most notably the platinum-selling “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck’ which reached number 1 on the U.S. country charts. And now the country star has dedicated a song to the men and women of the construction industry as well as Case Construction Equipment.

The song is called “On the Case” and you can see the music video below. “These folks come out to my shows after working long shifts, 50-60 hour weeks, and I never forget that,” Moore said in a prepared statement. “They take extreme pride in the work they do. It inspires me to put on the best show I can every night, and I wanted to thank them and honor their work and commitment with something they can relate to. The lyrics for ‘On the Case’ were written to do that.”

Case and Moore are also partnering for a contest where through November 20 fans can submit photos of themselves, their crew or their equipment at work for a chance to appear in a second “fan cut” version of the “On the Case” music video. Fans who submit photos will also be entered to win concert tickets for the upcoming CMT On Tour 2014 event, “Up in Smoke”. You can enter the contest at CaseCE.com/OntheCase.

 This article was written by Wayne Grayson, Online Managing Editor of Equipment World.

Firefighters plea for better roads and bridges

LA_City_Firefighters_Gear_UpThe Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters are pleading with state officials to focus on the safety of state’s transportation system. The organization, which represents over 6,000 professional firefighters across the state, has released an open letter to the state.

“There are 20,000 miles of bridges and highway crossings in Missouri without shoulders,” Eric Latimer, 4th District vice president of the Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters, writes. “Missouri ranks third in the nation in structurally deficient bridges, and 65 percent of our roads and bridges are rated in “fair” or “poor” condition.”

The organization has studied the benefit of good roads and bridges. It is a proven fact that less people die when good transportation conditions are maintained.

“Between 2005 and 2012, as bridge and highway conditions improved, roadway fatalities decreased by more than 34 percent,” Latimer says.

Ultimately, it comes down to Congress working out a long-term Highway Trust Fund bill instead of consecutive short-term patches.

“If we do not find a long-term funding solution, our roads will deteriorate, putting the safety of the public and our first responders is at risk,” Latimer writes.

A road without fibers is a road soon to be in need of repair

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New research is reaffirming the benefits of steel or synthetic engineered fibers in asphalt pavements and concrete, where they enhance performance, replace fine matter, and in the case of concrete, control shrinkage cracking and keep deicing salts away from reinforcing steel.

For decades, fibers of all origins have been hawked as cure-alls for pavement problems. Engineered materials have competed with reclaimed waste products like carpet scraps for their place in pavements, and when a performance problem developed, fibers in general – not the use of questionable materials – took the blame.

But now, fibers as an engineered material have taken their place in the toolbox of products with utility in road construction.

Synthetic fibers for asphalt

Cold climates, but also heat and rain in warmer climates cause cracks and deterioration in asphalt, says Scott Nazar, technical manager, FORTA Corp., a supplier of synthetic fibers. “DOTs and owners of other paved surfaces (e.g. airport runways and parking lots) can enjoy longer pavement life and increased structural stability if the asphalt mix is reinforced with synthetic fibers,” he says.

At Jackson Hole Airport in Teton County, Wyoming, thin asphalt overlay containing synthetic fibers is placed in this runway project.

At Jackson Hole Airport in Teton County, Wyoming, thin asphalt overlay containing synthetic fibers is placed in this runway project.

For instance, asphalt at 3.5 inches of depth, reinforced with synthetic fibers, is as strong as asphalt at 5.5 inches of depth not reinforced with fibers, Nazar says. “These owners can save in the short term and in the long term,” he adds, “because roads reinforced with synthetic fibers last longer and crack less in the first place, no matter whether the environment is hot or cold.”

However, the majority of asphalt pavement work is of the mill-and-fill variety, he says. In these situations, the synthetic fibers can be used to extend the life of the thin overlay, because decreasing thickness is usually not an option.

“Not all fibers are created equal, and the difference matters for our roads,” Nazar adds. “Before contractors make the decision to use fiber technology to reinforce roads, they need to know the differences between types of available fibers that could dramatically impact the life cycle of a project.”

Engineered fibers for asphalt may include asphalt stabilization additive fibers, asphalt reinforcement fibers and fiberglass reinforcement. “Historically, discussions about using fibers for asphalt mixes have centered on cellulose fibers to prevent drain down that occurs when using stone matrix asphalt mixes (SMA) or other high asphalt-content mixes,” Nazar says. “The use of cellulose allows designers to put more asphalt cement in the mix without having a soupy mess.”

Another such mix is the polymer-modified, open-graded friction course (OGFC), which minimizes fines that could inhibit movement of surface water through the lift. Today’s OGFCs utilize cellulose fibers to forestall drain-down of liquid asphalt, although warm mix asphalt used for OGFCs can eliminate cellulose fibers in those mixes.

One of the first technologies using fibers was stress-absorbing membrane interlayer (SAMI). “Constructing SAMIs involves applying emulsion and spraying on a layer of fiberglass fibers, then adding on another coat of emulsion and aggregate chips,” Nazar says. “The SAMI provides a two-dimensional mat for preventing cracks from migrating through the pavement structure.” However, he adds, while the SAMI layer itself may not crack, cracking can occur in layers above and below the SAMI.

Until now, most fibers were derived from plastic and often melted in the mixing process. A portion of the melted fiber did help to modify the asphalt, increasing rut resistance and also cold weather cracking resistance, he says.

We’re in a different age of blended fiber use today.“We’re in a different age of blended fiber use today,” Nazar told Better Roads. “High tensile strength fibers can be added to the asphalt mix during production at the plant, providing crack resistance throughout the entire depth of the pavement layer in which it is placed. High tensile strength fibers include aramid fibers able to withstand temperatures from -320 deg F to 800 deg F.”

A blend of fibers works well for the road agency, he says. “I’ve found a blend of aramid and polyolefin fibers is the way to go,” Nazar says. “It’s best of both worlds; the blend reduces both high temperature rutting potential and thermal cracking. I have even noticed improved densities of fiber mixes because the fibers keep the material from spreading out under the rollers during breakdown compaction. These high tensile fibers have also shown to provide the best benefit when tested at high-strain values equal to or greater than 250 micro strains.”

Fibers enhance thin overlays

Thin asphalt overlays are a sustainable, low-cost alternative to conventional hot mix asphalt overlays, but their performance can be enhanced with the optimal design, including additives like fibers, say Songsu Son, Ph.D. candidate, and Imad L. Al-Qadi, professor of engineering, and director, Illinois Center for Transportation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in their 2014 Transportation Research Board paper, “Engineering Cost-Benefit Analysis of Thin Durable Asphalt Overlays.”

“Significant improvement of pavement performances has been achieved with regard to material selection and modification, mix design, and construction technology,” they say. “However, most of these improvements require high-quality aggregate and expensive modified asphalt binder or special equipment for construction.”

New-design asphalt mixes have come to the fore.In response, new-design asphalt mixes have come to the fore as stakeholders seek better-performing mixes at lower cost, say Son and Al-Qadi. These new asphalt mixes offer significant cost savings while improving structure and function characteristics, including durability, friction, quietness, rutting, cracking and moisture susceptibility resistance.

To evaluate field performance of these new mixes under actual traffic loading and environmental conditions, including the control mixes, pavement sections with six asphalt mixtures and various wearing surface thicknesses were constructed.

Two typical Illinois surface mixtures were selected as control mixes: a 9.5-mm NMAS coarse dense-graded mixture (F-mix) and a 12.5-mm SMA. The SMA mixture generally requires more durable aggregates, modified asphalt binder, and cellulose fibers, which makes it more expensive than typical dense-graded mixtures.

Three fine dense-graded asphalt mixes with a 9.5-mm NMAS and one SMA with a 4.75-mm NMAS were developed for a relatively thinner wearing course. Locally available aggregates were employed, among them being a steel slag/fiber mix designed to provide good friction and high resistance to stripping and permanent deformation due to the use of steel slag.

A blend of polypropylene and aramid fibers was added into the slag mix to improve its tensile strength, allowing placement at a relatively thinner layer thickness. A PG 70-22, SBS-modified asphalt cement was utilized, and the aggregate mix was 62.2 percent dolomite, 17.5 percent natural sand, and 20.3 percent slag.

Field testing was performed immediately after construction and every four months up to two years.In-place field testing was performed immediately after construction and every four months up to two years. Testing at these intervals provided results for initial field performance and short-term performance for each section. The in-place field testing included onboard sound intensity measurement, laser longitudinal texture profiling, locked-wheel friction, and walking foot inclinometer (dipstick) rut measurement.

Then the pavements were evaluated and scored, and using a formula, the authors converted the ranks to numbers to calculate the overall performance numerically from 0 to 10 (worst to best). The steel slag/fiber mix scored second highest in their performance rankings.

“In general, the control mixes resulted in lower performance scores compared to the new mixtures,” Son and Al-Qadi. “The 4.75-mm SMA section with a 1-in wearing surface provided the highest overall performance score.”

Stay tuned to BetterRoads.com for the rest of this three part series! –>

Our 2015 Contractor of the Year contest is open for entries

Our 2014 Contractor of the Year, Jeremy Hiltz, accepts his award in Las Vegas.

Our 2014 Contractor of the Year, Jeremy Hiltz, accepts his award in Las Vegas.

Equipment World’s Contractor of the Year program—which  honors the forward thinkers, high achievers and just plain good people in construction—is now open for entries.

Each year, the editors of Equipment World select 12 finalists for this prestigious program, now in its 15th year.  Each finalist and their guest receive a free weekend at the Wynn resort in Las Vegas, capped by VIP attendance to the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on March 8th.  For a taste of what this event involves, check out the video below, which includes a personal invite from Mike Rowe.

In addition, each finalist is featured in the pages of Equipment World magazine, with the 2015 Contractor of the Year winner appearing on our May cover. This year’s winner, Jeremy Hiltz of Jeremy Hiltz Excavating, Ashland, New Hampshire, calls being named Contractor of the Year “the pinnacle of my career.”

To be a candidate, you must:

  • Have between $3 million and $15 million in annual revenues (this can be your current revenues, or an average for the past 3 years).
  • Have at least 10 years of construction company ownership experience.
  • Have a proven, excellent safety record
  • Represent the construction industry in a positive way.

Interested? The first 50 contractors to completely fill out an application will receive a Cat hat, courtesy of Caterpillar, sponsor of the Contractor of the Year program for more than 14 years.

To apply, click here.

This article was written by Marcia Gruver Doyle, Editorial Director of Equipment World.

H.R. Green’s Larry Stevens elected as 2014-2015 APWA president

Photo credit: American Public Works Association

Photo credit: American Public Works Association

The nearly 29,000 American Public Works Association (APWA) members elected Larry Stevens, P.E., PWLF, as its 2014-2015 president during the 2014 APWA International Public Works Congress and Exposition held in August in Toronto.

Stevens, project director for Johnston, Iowa,-based HR Green Inc. will lead the organization as well as APWA’s 17-member board of directors.

Vehicles covered in oil and grime after construction project gone wrong

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Photo courtesy of Debbie Barth.

Drivers headed west on Highway 19 near Northfield, Minnesota, found an unpleasant surprise on their vehicles. Commuters saw signs warning of road construction, but didn’t think anything of it until they exited their vehicles after reaching their destination. That’s when they found their vehicles covered in oil and grime.

It was the result of a simple sealcoating project gone horribly wrong. A surprise rain storm prevented the resurfacing substance from bonding with the gravel and caused it to instead bond to vehicles.

Minnesota Department of Transportation Public Affairs Coordinator Mike Dougherty explained that the oil mixture used for sealcoating is supposed to bond with the gravel and road surface as it dries, but if water is added, the oil isn’t able to dry. Since it rained, the mixture didn’t dry but splashed onto vehicles instead.

“[The storm] was an unanticipated issue,” Dougherty said. “The rain was the component that made this go incorrectly.”

Dozens of drivers were reportedly affected before State Patrol was able to reroute traffic from the area.

MnDOT is holding contractor, Astech Corp. out of St. Joseph, Minnesota, responsible for the damage. MnDOT has said it received hundreds of calls from angry drivers who are having a difficult time cleaning the resurfacing mixture off their vehicles. Many drivers who were affected have been forced to reach out to local auto centers that claim to have a solution to restore vehicles back to their original state.

Highway and Bridge contract awards down 14 percent

contract-award2

Contract awards in 2014, compared to 2013. | Graph: ARTBA.org

 

The value of highway and bridge contract awards was down 14 percent in the first seven months of 2014 when compared to the same period in 2013.

According to American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), state and local governments awarded $29.8 billion in highway and bridge work between January and June 2014. When adjusted for material costs and inflation, $34.6 billion was awarded during the same time period in 2013.

The pullback in spending is likely due to the lack of a long-term Highway Trust Fund solution.

According to ARTBA’s analysis of McGraw Hill data, 25 states awarded fewer highway and bridge contracts by June 2014 than they did a year ago while awards were actually up in 21 states and Washington, D.C. In five state awards were flat, neither up nor down more than five percent.

 

Watch construction of Gerald Desmond Bridge 24/7

6a00e551eea4f588340147e03c0e51970b-600wiLove watching bridge construction? You’re in luck!

The Port of Long Beach is offering you real-time footage of the construction related to replacing the Gerald Desmond Bridge. Three webcams have been installed on the World Trade Center rooftop facing west toward the bridge, at Pier A facing south and at Pier T facing north, which means you can watch the construction 24/7.

The footage will broadcast at newgdbridge.com and through the project’s mobile smartphone app. Search for “LB Bridge” in the App Store, Google Play or Windows Phone Store to download the app.

People watching from the website will be able to zoom in and out, and select full-screen views for a great look of the action.

“There is a tremendous amount of public interest in the construction of this new bridge,” John Pope, Port of Long Beach Community Relations Manager, said in a statement. “However, there is not a safe, accessible vantage point within the Port to view construction activities. These new webcams offer the best, safest way for everyone to experience the historic construction of what will be an iconic bridge for our city.”

The Gerald Desmond Bridge was built in 1968 and helps to ferry nearly 15 percent of the nation’s waterborne cargo. Unfortunately it has slowly deteriorated over the years. Things have gotten so bad that nets had to be attached to the bridge to catch falling debris.

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