- Most asphalt plants were shut down for winter maintenance
- All paving crews were off for the winter
- All of the milling and paving equipment was at the shop for winter maintenance
- Temperatures the night of December 11 were down into the low 20s
- Night paving
- Gas company shut down the surrounding area from 11:30 p.m. - 3 a.m. to test remaining gas lines in the area; crews were shut down and off the project site while this took place
Luckily, asphalt producer American Asphalt of West Virginia was still open and operating. “If needed, we also had a West Virginia Paving plant in the area that was still hot and had not been completely shut down for the winter,” says Withrow.
Chet Rodabaugh and Dallas Moore worked together in contacting the paving crew members, shop and hired truck drivers. “Everyone that was contacted was more than willing to drop what they were doing and come out and help,” says Withrow. “Rodabaugh received several calls from paving crew members around the state of West Virginia and Kentucky asking to help out.”
One factor was on West Virginia Paving’s side. “In a normal interstate paving project, we have to set up and take down lane closures,” says Withrow. “But in this case, I-77 was completely shut down by the WVDOT. This allowed us to save time.
“We were able to bring our crews and equipment right up onto the interstate without any delays from traffic,” he continues. “This also allowed our haul trucks in the milling and paving process to get on and off the interstate quickly. With the temperatures dropping down in the low 20s that night, this also helped in getting the material out to the project in a timely matter.”
The cold also affected equipment operators. “Our roller operator did a great job of staying right with the paver all night,” says Withrow. “For those that have been on a roller when it’s cold outside and the water mist is hitting you in the face … COLD!!”
While West Virginia’s crew is experienced with night paving, and the equipment is ready for night projects, Joe Burgess, safety director, was still on hand giving instructions and prepping the crew before the project began. “Burgess went out and accessed the project and spoke with the crew members before the milling and paving project even began,” says Withrow.
It takes a village
West Virginia Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox says he has never seen damage to a road like what he saw on I-77. “The road was crunching. The guardrail had melted. I’ve never seen damage like that before,” he says.
Officials thought it would take at least 24 hours to reopen that section of interstate. Fortunately, the fire didn’t damage the underlying concrete as much as highway officials initially thought it did.
Withrow and Rodabaugh credit the hard work and versatility of the West Virginia Paving crew for finishing the job so quickly.
“You can’t do a job like this without good employees,” says Rodabaugh. “Everybody stayed calm and positive as things changed from minute to minute. We had a good crew that was committed to getting the job done.”
Members of the community stepped up and helped make the night go a little easier too. “We would like to recognize that the local Red Cross that came out to the project and provided food and drinks during the night,” says Withrow.
The bottom line is that everyone came together to finish this rapid response paving job successfully. Rodabaugh concludes, “We were just glad to be a part of the response and able to help out to reopen the road.”