I-69, Section 1, Package 5

September 25, 2014

Upon receipt of a Record of Decision for Section 1, Governor Daniels and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) wished to advance design and construction of this critical economic artery as quickly as possible. For this reason, Section 1, which encompasses 13 miles of new construction (interstate rural freeway), was divided into five packages. Thanks to Lochmueller Group’s (Lochgroup) intimate knowledge of the corridor from its role as Program Management Consultant for Tier 2, Lochgroup provided design services for all or a portion of three of the five packages, as needed to fast-track design and construction.

Package 5 largely crossed open field with some unexpected rocky areas and featured 10 bridges, 11,200 feet of interchange ramps, and 9,100 feet of state and county road reconstruction. Lochgroup managed the design team responsible for the 5.57-mile segment that featured two 12-foot travel lanes; 10-foot-wide paved outside shoulders; 4-foot paved inside shoulders; a 60-foot-wide median, and a 34-foot-wide clear zone.

In addition to overall Project Management, Lochgroup provided final design of a 1.7-mile section, an interchange at I-69 and SR 64, and four structures. In order to accelerate the schedule, other sections of the road and design of several bridges were taken to 30% design, and then finalized by other team members under Lochgroup’s direction.

Interchange Design

Since there was no good local detour on SR 64 to maintain traffic during construction, Lochgroup evaluated several alternatives. A diamond interchange in conjunction with changes to the alignment of SR 64 made it possible to use the existing road as part of the phasing of construction instead of building a temporary run-around saved $911,800. In the fill area along SR 64 wick drains were designed to remove the excess moisture in the existing ground and thus reducing the amount of time needed for settlement.

Changes to the SR 64 alignment involved the design of two new bridges:

Additional Structures

Located in a Seismic Zone1, all bridges required careful detailing to address safety issues depending on the soil characteristics. Given the prevalence of farms in the area, bridges were designed to be both wider and taller than normal to provide clearance for combines and other large farm equipment.

I-69 over Unnamed Tributary to West Fork of Keg Creek.  The Level 2 design involved twin, single-span (100’) structures with no skew, supported by integral concrete end bents on piling. Composite prestressed concrete Bulb-Ts were used for this structure. Each structure provides a 40’-4” clear roadway width.

I-69 over Norfolk & Southern Railroad.  To ensure the horizontal and vertical alignment and provide adequate clearances for the railroad crossing, Lochgroup provided 30% plans for this structure just north of SR 64 interchange. The twin single-span (80’) at a 14° left skew. The structures are supported on integral concrete end bents on piling, which are protected by MSE Walls.

Utility Coordination & Mineral Rights

Utility coordination was a critical consideration given the proximity of a large natural gas distribution facility owned by Texas Gas Pipeline Storage Facility. Extensive coordination was involved to ensure impacts to five major intrastate gas pipelines could be scheduled during seasonal windows when pipeline usage was low.

In addition, Lochgroup recommended changing the geometry of CR 350S that resulted in not only shortening the overpass, but avoiding impacts to natural gas storage caverns and eliminating the need to replace an existing county bridge-saving $500,000.

To mitigate for the silty soils between CR 350S and SR 64, chemical stabilization was performed early on to stabilize the ground for fill. Mineral rights were also of special concern in developing right-of-way requirements throughout the package. Lochgroup team members worked closely with INDOT to develop guidelines for valuing mineral interests.

At SR 64, it was also necessary to coordinate with Vectren on the relocation of a major transmission line south of the interchange. Other considerations involved an overpass crossing the Norfolk Southern Railroad and presence of another high-voltage transmission line to the north of the interchange.

Property Impacts & Public Involvement

Another key to maintaining schedule involved impacts to a property owner agreement that had a previous agreement with US Fish & Wildlife Service’s “Partners for Wildlife” program. This agreement involved 35 acres of compensatory property for wildlife habitat development located on the Gelhaussen property north of CR 450S. After sitting down with the property owner at their home, reviewing the property with them, and understanding their concerns, minor changes in the alignment were incorporated to eliminate taking a portion of their lake.

These proactive, personal “kitchen table meetings” became the foundation for a public involvement process used throughout later sections of I-69. This process, which has proven invaluable in accelerating the project, has continued to evolve, resulting in INDOT being recognized with a Gold Performance Excellence Award by AASHTO for its outreach efforts in I-69, Section 4, on which Lochgroup also played a major role.

“The purpose of the kitchen table meetings was to improve communication with property owners and pro-actively address their concerns. Property owner feedback regarding this program has been very positive.” – Michael B. Cline, INDOT Commissioner

The Engineer’s Report included an overpass on CR 450S for access to property owners on CR 925, a dead end road, along the east side of I-69. This approach was also revisited and a series of alternatives were reviewed. After consulting property owners and local officials, cul-de-sacs were placed on CR 450S with access to the properties being provided by reconnecting CR 925 to CR 550S. This access road would then be relinquished to the county for maintenance. Since this new alignment eliminated the CR 450S overpass and the need to purchase land-locked parcels, it resulted in a savings of $3,422,400.

To preserve habitat connectivity, small and large mammal crossings were incorporated, including a unique box culvert near CR 450S to allow for deer and other large wildlife to cross under the freeway at an abandoned railroad crossing. Because of the length of the wildlife crossing going under I-69 it was determined that a small twin bridge structure would be the best choice because it would provide a more open, natural feeling for the wildlife than a box culvert. Two types of bridges were investigated, and a recommendation was made to use a structure featuring MSE wall, along with creative grading and landscaping, was chosen to help guide the wildlife under the bridge and keep them from coming up in the median. Additional small mammal, reptile and amphibian crossings were also incorporated into a drainage structure near CR 550S.

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I-57/I-70 Rehabilitation

September 24, 2014

Highway and interchange design on I-57/I-70.

Increased congestion at the crossroads of two major freeways, I-57 and I-70, prompted the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to upgrade the section where the two highways merged through the City of Effingham. Lochmueller Group (Lochgroup) was hired to provide preliminary and final design of the roadway including five interchanges.

The additional lanes and interchange improvements would improve safety, reduce congestion, and allow for increased truck access for the movement of goods as the area continues to develop. As a result of the firm’s efforts on this $163 million project, Lochgroup received IDOT’s 2014 Award for Exceptional Consulting Engineering Service.

i57-70-2In all, Lochgroup designed the rehabilitation of 7.7 miles of roadway. This section of freeway is dual-marked and consists of 6 lanes and a 16-foot median. Lochgroup’s responsibilities also involved structural design for 11 bridges. Since the corridor serves as an essential national emergency route, the project also included the seismic rehabilitation of five bridges. Lochgroup developed in-house seismic retrofit details that restrain the bridge spans on their supports. The restraining devices were easy to construct, and they feature innovative indicator devices that will allow an emergency bridge inspector to evaluate if the restrainers are capable of resisting a second earthquake event or need to be replaced.

The bridge work also included design of three new bridges. One of the new bridges replaced the dual structures over US 45 and the Canadian National Railroad. Originally, the structures were only to be widened and rehabilitated. Due to the poor condition of one of the support piers, however, the project was re-scoped as a total replacement. This extra cost meant Lochgroup redoubled efforts to trim costs elsewhere to keep the overall project on budget. Lochgroup engineered a hybrid girder design as opposed to a standard grade 50 ksi steel plate girder. This reduced the amount of steel required for the plate girders by approximately 277,000 pounds saving at least $200,000.

i57-70A second new structure consisted of a 2-span bridge carrying a shared-use path over I-57/I-70 to support the local trail network. The bridge, which features a unique decorative railing, consists of a reinforced concrete deck supported by 40-inch steel composite web plate girders on a reinforced concrete pier and abutments. The abutments are wrapped around by Mechanically Stabilized Earth retaining walls.

The final new structure over Fayette Avenue is a 2-span bridge carrying a sidewalk, 4 lanes of traffic, and a turn lane. The schedule for design of the Fayette Avenue interchange was reduced by 14 months at IDOT’s request.

Final plans were broken into four phases to be constructed as funding became available and to allow local contractors to be able to bid on the projects. Construction was also coordinated with an adjacent project, I-70 over the Little Wabash River. The high potential for scour resulted in a complex structure design. By coordinating the two projects, Lochgroup saved IDOT approximately $1.2 million through changes to the construction phasing and compressing the design schedule from 18 to 12 months.

Another key to the success of the overall project was an intensive traffic management plan for multiple, overlapping construction contracts. This includes automated real-time work zone system with traffic sensors, video cameras, and message signs including alternate route detour and advance lane closure warning signs. Working with IDOT ITS managers and manufacturers, the plan resulted in few work queuing issues and accidents.

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