When Superior Bowen Asphalt bid the Economy Parking Project at Kansas City's International Airport (KCI), the contractor knew it was going to have to rely heavily on its subcontractors and the engineer to get the job done right and in a tight 18-month schedule.
Formed by the merger of Bowen Construction Co. and Superior Asphalt Co. five years ago, Superior Bowen Asphalt employs 300 people and operates seven hot mix asphalt plants, all in the Kansas City area. A paving and milling contractor, Superior Bowen generally works as a subcontractor on this type of project.
"We concentrate on paving and cold milling for a broad range of commercial, residential, or public agency projects," says Bob Jewett, estimator and project manager for the airport parking lot project. "We are the prime contractor only on jobs where the asphalt paving work is the dominant item, otherwise we are a subcontractor. The reason we got this job is because we did the general contracting as well."
But that meant coordinating a broad variety of work among the owner, KCI; the engineer, SK Design Group; and a number of subcontractors. It is that coordination, combined with a well-designed project, and quality paving efforts that earned a Quality in Construction Award from the National Asphalt Pavement Association.
A complex job
KCI is laid out with three separate terminals, A, B, and C. Originally one parking lot served all terminals with a bus route connecting the parking to the terminals. The problem was that anyone departing from Terminal C had to ride the bus and wait out stops at terminals A and B before getting to his destination. Under the new plan each terminal has its own parking lot with a bus route connecting that parking lot to its appropriate terminal.
So the Economy Parking Project was constructed on a 300-acre site that included construction of 30 bus shelters, five bridges, three box culverts, a bus operations building, a 10-lane exit plaza with eight attended booths, and much more.
It included 130 acres (more than 300,000 tons) of hot mix asphalt paving, including streets, several highway ramps, boulevards, upgrades and improvements at five intersections, construction of three roundabouts, 93,000 feet of curbing, 4,000 feet of guard rails, and more than 100 miles of striping that included 15,000 parking stalls (paint) as well as road striping (thermoplastic). The crews moved 1 million cubic yards of earth, and installed 11,000 feet of 8-inch and 16-inch water lines, more than 35,000 feet of 12-inch to 54-inch storm sewers, and 11 miles of underdrains, miles of power, telephone, security, and data lines.
"This was a complex job with a lot of different elements, but it was well thought out and well designed ahead of time," Jewett says. "Things that weren't handled in the planning were handled quickly and easily in the midst of the project. It was a model project from that standpoint."
Sassan Mahobian, president of SK Design Group, Overland Park, KS, which engineered the project, says his firm actually "builds" the job on computer before turning it over to the contractor. So the engineers had worked through many details and tried to avoid many potential problems before the work started.
"That's what we brought to the table, a completeness of drawings and specifications," Mahobian says.
And the thorough planning enabled the work to be completed with change orders totaling less than 1% of the $53 million job.
Support and coordination
"The best way to handle any job is to create a partnering atmosphere in which everyone takes ownership of the job," Mahobian says. "Superior Bowen did a great job creating an environment where everyone felt a responsibility and everyone worked together.
"We're all trying to make money and we're all proud of the work we do, and if we can work together then we're going to end up with a high-quality job brought in under budget and on time," he says. "We had a very good relationship among the whole group - the owner, the contractor, and the engineer - and the project went very well as a result of that."