VIDEO: Fun with snowplowing

Snow_shovellingWho says shoveling your driveway can’t be fun?

Last year, I tried to make shoveling the driveway fun by having my two boys shovel along with me and make a fort while doing so. We had races with who could push the most snow and then make snowballs. When my husband’s job was such that we lived in two different states for eight months and then four month, both of which fell during some pretty rough winters, I tried everything I could to be creative and still get the boys to help!

However, this is one cool way to plow the driveway. It might not be the most efficient, but I certainly know that the boys would be more than willing to help. In fact, my husband might be first in line to get the driveway shoveled if we used this method.

I think some remote-control snowplows are on the list for Christmas this year!

New poll shows 67 percent of people are against a gas tax increase

2601232514_3ccf1e29ef_zTwo-thirds of Americans oppose the idea of increasing the 18.4 cent-per-gallon gas tax that’s used to fund the country’s transportation infrastructure, according to a survey that was conducted by SKDKnickerbocker and Benenson Strategy Group.

“Despite the fact that a majority of voters support more funding for road and bridge repair and believe it will help the economy, two thirds of voters oppose increasing the gas tax to sustain the fund for a longer time,” the groups said in the report, titled “Beyond The Beltway: Insights Initiative.”

While Congress tried to come up with a long-term transportation bill, there have been several polls and surveys done on the topic. The results of most surveys are similar to the one done by SKDKnickerbocker and Benenson Strategy Group. According to a Reason-Rupe poll conducted in August, the majority of Americans would rather pay tolls than taxes.

Another survey by Associated Press-GfK showed that six out of 10 Americans understand the importance of good roads and bridges, but disagree on how transportation infrastructure should be funded. In the results of that survey, only 14 percent supported a gas tax increase.

Congress had a chance to pass a long-term highway trust fund deal earlier this year, but passed a temporary extension that runs through May 2015 instead. The current trust fund is on target to run out of money in September 2015 if Congress doesn’t take action.

Ho-ho-ho and a cup of Joe! Free Christmas Eve coffee at Illinois Tollway

coffee-293220_640Good news, coffee lovers! The Illinois Tollway oases 7-Eleven stores and McDonald’s restaurants will offer free cups of coffee to holiday travelers on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The free cups of coffee will be available at the following times and locations:

Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90)

  • Des Plaines Oasis, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. – 7-Eleven
  • Belvidere Oasis, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. – 7-Eleven and McDonald’s

Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80)

  • Lake Forest Oasis, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. – 7-Eleven and McDonald’s
  • O’Hare Oasis
    • 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. – McDonald’s
    • 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. – 7-Eleven
  • Hinsdale Oasis, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. – 7-Eleven and McDonald’s
  • Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis
    • 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. – McDonald’s
    • 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. – 7-Eleven

Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88)

  • DeKalb Oasis, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. – 7-Eleven and McDonald’s

Have a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

Last second Christmas gift ideas for highway and bridge construction workers

Construction SantaHopefully you’re not one of those people who wait until the last second to do all of your Christmas shopping. If you are, stay safe trying to fight the crowds of shoppers as the big day approaches.

Thankfully there are several last second gifts that are sure to please the highway and bridge construction worker on your list. Below are a few cute ideas to help you leading up to the 25th. For more Christmas gift ideas check out Equipment World’s 12 Days of Construction Gifts.

 

Hammer Stress Relieverhammer-stress-ball-toy-stressed-construction__31970.1411403371.1280.1280

Whether on or off the job, never separate a construction worker from his hammer. For under five dollars, EggheadToys.com is selling a hammer stress reliever to help out during those difficult days. Whether you feel like taking your anger out on a computer monitor, a co-worker, or even a not-so-nice boss, this is one hammer that can’t do a whole lot of damage, but it will certainly help you relieve some stress.

 

Construction Ornament

2010-construction-ornamentEveryone has that person on their Christmas list who is near impossible to shop for. What do you get them, what could they use? Well, you can always play it safe by getting him/her a construction ornament for the Christmas tree.

This construction ornament is currently being offered by OccupationGifts.com for $8.95.

 

Work Apparel 

It probably goes without mentioning, but every construction worker can appreciate quality work apparel. Whether it be new work boots, gloves, or even a durable watch that can take the abuse of the job, it would almost certainly bring a smile to his/her face.

 

Caterpillar Dozer for Kidsscreen-shot-2014-12-15-at-8-26-37-am

If you’re shopping for a child, or maybe even a construction dad who wants to relate to his kid, check out this Caterpillar dozer from Kid Trax. It has a working blade that the child occupant can raise and lower. It also has two motors that allow the diminutive dozer to turn in place just like the real thing.

 

When All You Got’s A Hammer…62526982_155x155_pad

“When all you got’s a hammer, everything looks like a nail!” Can you think of a better saying to put on a construction worker’s shirt, coffee mug and/or shot glass? We didn’t think so! The saying can be ordered on several different items at CafePress.com.

 

Bridge Builder Mug

Know a bridge construction worker who takes a lot of pride in his job? If so, this “bridge builder” mug, also on CafePress.com, would make a great Christmas gift.

construction_worker_mug

 

 

Blinking Traffic Cone4193_blinkingtoytrafficcone_1.jpg

If you know somebody who spends most of their time on highway and bridge construction sites, this traffic cone could help them feel right at home. It can be used as a paperweight, or to warn family members that they better use caution when messing around on your computer desk.

 

Work, Dogs, Work 51oSVncOF7L

What kind of highway construction worker doesn’t love some one-on-one reading time with their kid? In Work, Dogs, Work: A Highway Tail, a crew of dogs work to repair a road. This picture book is a potential gift that would bring joy to any highway construction parent.

Interchange projects become Oklahoma DOT’s largest awarded contract of all time

In this ODOT photo looking south, both I-35 interchanges in Norman involved in the state’s largest construction contract ever awarded are pictured.

In this ODOT photo looking south, both I-35 interchanges in Norman involved in the state’s largest construction contract ever awarded are pictured.

The reconstruction of two interchanges on Interstate 35 in Norman has generated the single largest construction contract ever awarded by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The department awarded the contract to Sherwood Construction Company of Tulsa with a $71 million base bid with possible financial incentives.
The contract calls for the reconstruction of the northern half of the I-35 interchange at State Highway 9 East as well as the reconstruction of the Lindsey Street Bridge as a single point urban interchange. A project reconstructing the southern half of the interchange began in 2013 and is nearly complete.
The new Lindsey Street interchange will feature longer on and off-ramps at I-35, a wider bridge and a single array of traffic signals on top of the bridge to allow large volumes of traffic to negotiate the area, ODOT announced.Work is scheduled to start early next year and both projects are expected to be completed halfway through 2017.The state bid the projects together due to their close proximity, but work on the State Highway 9 interchange will be completed before crews begin work on the Lindsey Street reconstruction.

Sherwood will earn financial incentives if the company is able to complete all of the work in less than two years and minimize the temporary closure of 24th Avenue Southwest during the State Highway 9 reconstruction project.

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

Ohio's 'Jobs and Transportation Plan' continues to fuel infrastructure investment

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich.

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich.

Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich’s “Jobs and Transportation Plan” is entering its second year with a projected $2 billion investment in the state’s infrastructure, economy and jobs over the next several years.

The state’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) has given preliminary approval to continue the governor’s plan that – once complete – is expected to create up to 60,000 new jobs and make a total investment of $3 billion, most of it coming from money leveraged by the Ohio Turnpike.

“Under the leadership of Governor John R. Kasich, we have been able to turn a $1.6 billion budget problem into a $3 billion infrastructure investment in just a couple of years,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray said in a statement. “While other states debate tax increases to dig their way out, Ohio has proven that with innovation, we can continue to make progress and build these massive transportation projects that communities tell us they want and need.”

Some of the more notable changes or additions to the second-year plan include:

  • Constructing a new interchange at State Route 16 and Cherry Valley Road in Licking County;
  • Advancing the next phase of the Interstate 270/State Route 315/U.S. Route 23 reconstruction project in Franklin County by eight years;
  • Expediting construction of two future phases of the Cleveland Innerbelt project in Cuyahoga County;
  • Adding a third lane on Interstate 70 from U.S. Route 68 and State Route 72 in Clark County;
  • Reconstructing Interstate 70 at U.S. Route 40 and State Route 331 in Belmont County;
  • Upgrading the interchange at Interstate 71 and Western Row Road in Warren County; and,
  • Building a new railroad crossing on Grand Avenue and adding half-mile extension with new intersections at U.S. Route 127 and University Boulevard in Butler County.

The governor’s plan was kicked-off last year and quickly invested more than a billion dollars in state infrastructure spending. Projects launched this past construction season, which are currently underway include the:

  • Portsmouth Bypass in southeast Ohio;
  • MLK Boulevard interchange in southwest Ohio;
  • Widening of I-75 in northwest Ohio;
  • Expansion of I-80 in eastern Ohio; and,
  • Next phase of the I-70/I-71 project in central Ohio.

A complete list of all projects TRAC approved for construction throughout the state in the coming years is located here.

Maintaining America’s most historic tourist routes

Epoxy chip seal is a favored method to bridge repair when dealing with worn decks because it seals micro-cracks in the concrete decking, protecting the  structure’s rebar from salts.

Epoxy chip seal is a favored method to bridge repair when dealing with worn decks because it seals micro-cracks in the concrete decking, protecting the
structure’s rebar from salts.

Americans love to explore the countryside in their cars, and many regions have obliged by designating special scenic travel routes. But few roads have been as deliberately designed to appeal to the sensibilities of travelers as Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota.

Iron Mountain Road is the north-south leg of the historic route 16A, which departs from Route 16 to access the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Custer State Park. Tunnels cut into rock outcroppings were situated to frame views of the faces carved into Mount Rushmore and are an integral part of the tourist experience when visiting the memorial. The road is known for its single narrow lanes as well as its spiral or “pigtail” bridges, engineered in 1932 by the superintendent of Custer State Park to traverse the steep elevation gain of the mountainous area. The steel structures of the bridges are covered by heavy timber facings, in keeping with the rustic character of the roadway.

Maintaining the historic road using modern equipment and techniques – without altering its character – was a challenge confronted by repair crews who undertook its resurfacing in early 2014. The $4,334,109 project called for milling and resurfacing 17 miles of roadway, along with bridge repair. Complicating matters was the fact that the region’s economy depends heavily upon summer tourism. While the towns surrounding Mount Rushmore have resident populations that number in the hundreds, the memorial is visited by nearly 3 million people each year. Furthermore, snowy winters – Mount Rushmore is 5,680 feet above sea level – meaning that prime construction times coincide with the tourist season. The repair schedule for Highway 16A was restricted to the narrow window of time in which temperatures were warm enough to accomplish the roadwork but closures inconveniencing the traveling public were minimized.

Repairing bridges with epoxy chip seal

By April 14, repair efforts on four pigtail bridges were underway. The repair method chosen was two-coat bridge deck epoxy chip seal. As per the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) Standard Specifications for Roads and Bridges, epoxy used must consist of a base component and a hardener; the second component of the system is a cover aggregate that conforms to specified hardness and gradation. The placement process on Highway 16A involved application of the mix at 40 sq.-ft. per gallon with a second application occurring three or four hours later, applied in the amount of 20 sq-.-ft. per gallon, explains Ryan Steinback, project manager, J.V. Bailey Co., Inc., the prime contractor for the bridge work. The two coat application of the product improves the surface’s life span and wearablilty.

Epoxy chip seal is a favored method of bridge repair when dealing with worn decks because it seals micro-cracks in the concrete decking, protecting the structure’s rebar from salts. The epoxy resin also binds well with concrete decking on the bridge. Cover aggregate provides skid resistance, improving the safety of the roadway. Epoxy chip seal’s easy application process and the fast cure time also help keep project schedules on track.

SDDOT specifications require diamond grinding of bridge decks in preparation for the placement of epoxy chip seal overlays. Grinding eliminates existing tining and irregularities in the road surface. A ground profile affords a clean and uniform surface, improving the adhesion of the chip seal coating. The SDDOT specifications dictate longitudinal grinding that results in parallel corduroy texture consisting of grooves between 0.090 and 0.130 inches (2 and 3 mm) wide, with the distance between grooves being between 0.060 and 0.125 inches (1.5 and 3 mm). The peaks of the ridges are required to be equal to or less than 1/16-inch (1.5 mm) higher than the bottom of the grooves. The existing surface on the 16A bridges had been in place since 1991 and was very rough, so grinding the surface improved its overall smoothness.

Bridge repair work, including the epoxy chip seal, is expected to add 12 to 15 years to the life of the structure, according to Steinback.

“The process of grinding bridges and applying an epoxy chip seal wearing course is a fast and easy way to extend the life of bridges,” says Rory Heizelman, project engineer at SDDOT. “In South Dakota, this repair method has been seeing increased use in the past few years. It also has a lesser impact on the traveling public than some other repair methods.”

Getting the job done

Considering that a full-size Target Model PR 3800 grinder was used on the bridges, navigating the road’s narrow lanes, elevation gain and tight curves was a challenge. All road repair equipment also had to be kept out of the state and national parks, so bypass routes were all that were available for crew to use.

“The grinder was too heavy to be trucked up the narrow mountain road. Accompanied by cars in front and behind, the grinder had to be driven – at a maximum speed of 50 feet per minute – up to the bridge locations,” said Dan Stoltenberg, the grinding division manager at Diamond Surface Inc. This meant unloading the equipment as much as 2 miles away from the site of the grinding.

Working on the narrow Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota, two grinder operators were required to control the accuracy of the grinding process.

Working on the narrow Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota, two grinder operators were required to control the accuracy of the grinding process.

Working on the narrow roads was also tricky. Two grinder operators were required in order to control the accuracy of the grinding process. The regular grinding machine was unable to maintain blade contact in areas near the bridge where the turning radius was tight and its use would have resulted in a gap of several inches along the turns. In these areas the Diamond Surface, Inc. team used a close proximity grinder built by the company.

“It’s a hydraulically powered 2-foot curb-and-gutter grinder,” Stoltenberg explains. “The head is mounted off to the side, so it is able to grind at angles and hug road curves.” Use of this grinder achieved cuts within 1 inch of vertical surfaces.

Terry Kraemer, president of Diamond Surface Inc., notes that some of the bridges were also entrances to tunnels and the tunnels were narrower than the bridges. “This added another element of difficulty to the grinding process,” Kraemer says.

For each bridge, the grinding process took two days (including prep work). J.V. Bailey Co., Inc. then spent several weeks cleaning and staining the wood facings of the bridges as well as performing minor repairs on spalled areas of the bridge surfaces. One timber bridge spanning a drainage area was completely removed and replaced with a culvert system and one-lane road.

To maintain the historic flavor of the route, “even concrete used on the bridges is stamped with wood grain and painted brown,” Stoltenberg says. Bridge cleaning efforts entailed stripping and repainting these sections of concrete.

An unseasonably cold spring caused temperatures to remain too low to place the chip seal until June, but by June 13, this final surface had been applied on each of the four pigtail bridges. The road was then opened to traffic and remained open through mid-August to accommodate crowds associated with the annual motorcycle rally, Sturgis (sturgismotorcyclerally.com), one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the world. The fact that early repair work had remained on schedule allowed not only for unrestricted road travel during the tourist season, but permitted the DOT to move forward in the early fall with additional repairs and maintenance of associated roadways.

At the onset of the job, it was unknown whether the bridge decks could be ground according to the stringent specifications. But “the end result was one that all parties were pleased with and we learned that – with the proper amount of finesse and excellent operators – most anything can be ground,” Kraemer says.

Article and photos courtesy of the International Grooving & Grinding Association (igga.net)

Project team members

  • Prime Contractor: J.V. Bailey Co., Inc.
  • Grinding Contractor: Diamond Surface, Inc.
  • Materials Supplier: Washington Rock Quarries
  • Materials Supplier: Poly-Carb

Tennessee eyes weight-distance tax to boost road funding

Tennessee

The Chattanooga Time Free Press has reported on a panel session in the Tennessee state legislature that showed lawmakers considering a weight-distance tax like the one currently levied by its neighbor to the north as well as the states of New YorkNew Mexico and Oregon.

Related:

California to test feasibility of mileage tax

Tennesseee Senate speaker Ron Ramsey noted the proposal was made as a measure to boost state revenues for road funding by Paul Bailey, a freshman member of the state Senate and a Republican from Sparta, Tenn. Bailey also happens to own a trucking company and small farm. According to the Times Free Press report, Bailey stressed the ability for in-state-based firms to deduct the cost of their own weight-distance fees from business taxes. According to Times Free Press reporter Andy Sher, Ramsey’s prognosis for this and other highway-funding proposals was likely to reach into 2016.

You can read Sher’s full report at this link.

This article was written by Todd Dills, Senior Editor of Overdrive Online.

Illinois Tollway helping veterans with free training Dec. 18, Jan. 8

Illinois_Tollway_logoThe Illinois Tollway has an ambitious 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, and it’s helping veterans get involved.

The agency will host four free Veterans Goals Workshops to provide an opportunity for prime contractors, subcontractors and veteran-owned businesses to learn how to identify veteran-owned small businesses or service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses and to prepare bids for upcoming construction contracts related to the Move Illinois program

The Tollway’s Veteran Goals Workshop for Contractors will be held at the Illinois Tollway headquarters, 2700 Ogden Avenue in Downers Grove, with sessions on Dec. 18, 2014, and Jan. 8, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. CT and from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT

To register for the workshop, or just for more information, click here and go to the Doing Business – Diversity Programs section of the website.

The workshops will be led by the Illinois Tollway Engineering and Diversity and the Strategic Development departments staff. During the workshops, the Tollway Authority says there will be an opportunity to ask questions and learn about documentation for the Veterans Business Program. The workshops will also cover how to find veteran-owned small businesses or service-disabled, veteran-owned small businesses.

According to the Illinois Tollway its tentative 2015 Budget includes $1.63 billion for the largest year of capital spending in agency history, including funding for the fourth year of the agency’s Move Illinois Program.

The 2015 Tentative Budget provides $1.56 billion in funding for capital infrastructure projects, including the following:

  • $839.6 million to continue rebuilding and widening the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a state-of-the-art 21st century corridor,
  • $319.8 million to continue building the new, all-electronic Elgin O’Hare Western Access Project, $107.9 million to resurface the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) from Illinois Route 251 to U.S. Route 30,
  • $19 million to begin design for bridge reconstruction on the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80)
  • $6.1 million funding planning studies for the Illinois Route 53/120 Project and other emerging projects.
  • $241.1 million has been budgeted for 2015 for system-wide roadway, interchange and bridge repairs and other work to address the needs of the existing Tollway system.

Through the State of Illinois’ Veterans Business Program, state agencies and universities are encouraged to set goals to collectively help commit 3 percent of purchases statewide to certified veteran-owned businesses, according to the Illinois Tollway.

The agency is evaluating all agency solicitations for inclusion of veteran-owned small business or service-disabled, veteran-owned small business goals. To participate in the Veterans Business Program, firms must be 51-percent owned and controlled by a qualified veteran living in Illinois and be in compliance with the Veterans Small Business Verification Act.

'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' holiday crackdown begins

19281248_BG1U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator David Friedman have kicked off the annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday crackdown on drunk driving by unveiling a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home.  New data revealing a decline in drunk driving deaths in 2013 has also been announced.

The new data reveals a 2.5 percent decline in drunk driving deaths in 2013. Yet, even with this decrease from the previous year, 10,076 people died in crashes involving a drunk driver in 2013, the equivalent to one death every 52 minutes. December 2013 was the month with the lowest number of drunk driving fatalities with 733 lives lost.

“We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said Secretary Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”

NHTSA’s new SaferRide app will help keep drunk drivers off our roads by allowing users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available for immediate download on Android devices on Google Play.

“We’re making progress in the fight against drunk driving by working with law enforcement and our safety partners, and by arming people with useful tools, such as our new SaferRide app,” said Deputy Administrator Friedman.  “This holiday season, don’t make the selfish and deadly choice to drink and drive.”

This year’s crackdown started on December 15 and continues until January 1, 2015. During this period, more than 10,000 participating police departments and law enforcement agencies will be out in force to protect the public and get drunk drivers off our roads. These efforts are supported by an $8 million dollar U.S. DOT national advertising campaign conveying NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over message.

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