"Working 9 to 5" and "the daily grind" are standard phrases for describing the typical workday. Working the night shift, however -- and working long hours in the dark -- is all too common in the construction industry, especially when it comes to road construction. With the volume of traffic during the day, nighttime operations can significantly reduce or eliminate traffic congestion, which in turn can lower user cost and potential business disruption while improving air quality with fewer idling cars and increasing productivity.
Curtis Contracting Inc. of West Point, Va., knows all about keeping the work moving throughout the off-peak traffic hours.
From July to November, Curtis Contracting has been working quickly and diligently throughout the night to complete concrete patchwork of State Route 288 and State Route 76, also known as Powhite Parkway. "Both of these routes are main outer loop arteries for the city of Richmond," says Herb Dowling, general superintendent at Curtis Contracting. "A lot of highway jobs are done at night because of traffic regulations and restrictions. This is one of those jobs -- these roads are heavily traveled by commuters."
One Lane at a Time
The concrete roadways are being rehabilitated piece by piece throughout the night. "When all is said and done, it's about 50 miles of roadway, or if we're talking lane miles -- because we complete the work one lane at a time -- we have been rehabilitating close to 100 lane miles overall," says Andy Curtis, CPESC, vice president of Curtis Contracting. And it will all be done while the general public sleeps.
With a job of that size, Curtis Contracting has several requirements -- the right people, the right method of removal and replacement, and the right products to get the job done safely.
"Between the northbound lanes of Route 288, the southbound lanes, and Route 76, we have about 100 crew members on the job every night. And every night we complete a few hundred feet of roadway," says Dowling. "We remove the current concrete and rebar, drill the tie bars in with a pneumatic drill, replace the rebar and pour the new concrete. And that all has to happen within the contract time periods."
The contract times for the three projects vary, but usually range from 7:00 p.m. to 6:30 a.m.Dowling says the challenge comes with the five hour cure time. "It's fast-paced for the first four and a half hours. We have a couple hours for removal, then another couple hours to get the concrete back in the hole, finished, and covered," says Dowling. "We pour concrete every night and within five hours, we're putting traffic back on it. Every night."
Good tools for good work
To remove the concrete, and remove it quickly, Curtis Contracting uses four dual pressure P260/HP220 air compressors from Doosan Portable Power. "To keep the air compressors moving quickly along with the job, they pull the P260/HP220 air compressor with a skid steer loader that has a pneumatic drill mounted to the front. The drill will create two vertical holes. Anchors are then slid into the drilled holes to lift the patch of concrete to remove it," says Jon Taylor, branch manager of Diamond/Goodson Equipment Corporation. He says the job requires 260 cfm and the P260/HP220 dual pressure air compressor not only fit the bill, but also was economical and fit well with the job they're doing.
"When we're out there, we're usually running both the pneumatic drill and the rock drill," says Dowling. "If the crew isn't drilling the holes for the tie bars on the deck with the drill, there's normally a concrete breaker or jackhammer going as well. Once we turn the P260/HP220 on, we pretty much have it on full power and we let it go."
A little help along the way
To keep the air compressors running, Dowling says it's key to have a good mechanic and good service from their equipment dealer. In the case of Curtis Contracting, that dealer is Diamond/Goodson Equipment in Richmond. "If something goes down, we usually have supplies on hand to get them up and running again. But if we can't get it covered, I drop them off at the dealer and they give me a loaner so we don't miss a beat," says Dowling.