Paving at Night

Virginia paving contractors rely heavily on paving equipment to meet the challenges of night paving.

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Contractors from across the state of Virginia are mandated to rehabilitate heavily travelled highways in need of repair at night when traffic flow is manageable, and trucks can deliver asphalt quickly. Northern Virginia is known as one of the top 10 "Commuter Hot Spots" in the nation by AAA (American Automobile Association), just outside of the Washington, DC area.

To the east, in the Hampton Roads Region of Norfolk and Virginia - increased military base operations (Norfolk Naval Base being the largest in the world), three major Port capital improvements, and a $2.2-billion new Craney Island Terminal, has increased traffic exponentially.

Truck traffic has increased with the growth of large distribution centers along the I-81 corridor at the western mountain region. This route enables a smooth passage from the Southwest (Mexico), of the United States to New York, New England, and Canada.

These immense gridlock and traffic problems have only reinforced Virginia's solution for better roads. In a safer and more manageable method, VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation), along with city and county governments have mandated contractors to start milling or resurfacing after rush hour traffic at night. Paving is anywhere from 9 to 11 p.m. until 4 or 5 a.m. That's not much time to lay a lot of asphalt, especially when pressured by financial penalties imposed on the contractor if he is not off the road by at least 5 or 6 a.m. The dollar amount varies depending on location, $2,500 for the first 15 minutes, or up to $10,000 an hour as the common amount reported. Once that bewitching hour comes in the morning, safety becomes paramount, because the added traffic brings accidents, compounding the problem.

However, any penalty today hurts, especially when asphalt prices seem to be sky rocketing, and bidding is tighter, with fewer contracts to bid. Liquid asphalt, at the time of this writing, is over $800 per ton. So, it's imperative to utilize the best equipment on the market, with the most advantageous features, standard or otherwise, to help produce the best rideability and smoothness results. The incentive or bonus can offset any unforeseen penalty eating into a contractor's profits, and help the contractor achieve a profitable return on the project.

Equipment of choice
The Volvo Road Machinery 6000 series machines are doing their share to meet the challenge. By using the new Omni 318 10-foot electrically heated screed with the track or rubber-tired paver, and the hydraulic stationary new lighting system, paving is easier and better than before. There is also a computerized speed control, adjusted by the operator, to maintain a constant paving speed, which insures mat quality.

Five contractors among others throughout Virginia have come to that conclusion. Many of the current series 6000 Volvo paver owners are in similar generational situations. Charles Scott, founder and CEO of B & S Contracting of Staunton, has daughters, Leslie Ghidoni, and Sheila Cramer heavily involved with the company as vice-presidents. President Marlin Hewitt has his son, Luke, managing various aspects of the company.

The crew on their older PF-3200 paved the Rte 262 Staunton Bypass in Augusta County, where they were the only contractor awarded the Statewide Pavement Construction Award in 2006 from the Virginia Department of Transportation. The industrious team, along with the rest of the company, was also proud to be winners of the 2007 VTCA (Virginia Transportation Coalition Association) Safety Award.

"It's a constant effort to be safe," says Scott. "That's where the new lighting system is so important to our crew. Not only does it take two men only 15 minutes to set up for the night, the lighting is immeasurably bright. The lights don't shine in anyone's eyes or into oncoming traffic, yet give us the ability to see what is happening out there on the I-81 project, between Verona and Rte 250 in Staunton. That project is 10,000 tons of surface mix, 3.7 miles long of two, 12-foot-wide southbound lanes. It is being milled first and immediately filled with a layer of 2 inches compacted 12.5 mix. The PF-6170 Volvo paver is used in conjunction with our MC-330 Mobile Transfer Vehicle for a better surface ride. The operator programmed the paver to run 20 feet per minute, so our rollers can keep pace and compact the material correctly."

Branscome operation
Julius Branscome founded Julius Branscome Grading & Excavating in 1962 and then in 1987, started Branscome Paving Co. of Manassas, VA when the company bought a plant and paver (PF-500) to serve their customers better. His son, David, runs the paving company now, and granddaughter, Rachael, works in the office. Third generation, grandson Taz, repairs the equipment, while nephews Brent, Corey, and Jamie, work throughout the company.

Branscome's take on the new Blaw-Knox PF-6110 is that Volvo has put new technology into the main components of a paver and brought it up "a notch." That new technology has helped the company achieve good rideability results. "We are paving on I-66 in Manassas for 24 mainline lane miles, eastbound, along with several ramps, on a mill and overlay maintenance project," Branscome notes. "A, 76-22 polymer modified liquid asphalt mix, 1 ½- to 2-inch compacted layer is placed with the PF-6110 and our MC-30 MTV. The time constraints after milling are to start paving between 10 and 11 p.m. and stop around 3:30 a.m. Everything has to be off the road by 5 a.m. for Washington, DC commuter traffic. Even with that short time period, we are able to put down 1,300 tons a night."

Lee Hy Paving
Lee Hy Paving of Richmond, VA also has three generations of family members currently working in their company. Founding Chairman of the Board, Gordon Penick, Jr. can be found every morning at his headquarters, with sons, Gordon III, CEO, and Joe, president, out in the field, or in the office managing their four plants, (Richmond, Chester, New Kent, and Warsaw, VA), and eight-plus paving crews. Grandson C. R. Langhorn, executive vice-president, works there right along several other grandchildren.

Lee Hy Paving Corp. currently is making use of the latest PF-6110 paver on a major, urban thoroughfare in the Shortpump area of Richmond. Paving 12-foot-wide lanes, sometimes shutting down two lanes at a time for safety reasons, the crew can start setting up at 9:30 p.m. and must be off the road by 5:30 a.m. Broad St. or Rte 250 is a 5,300-ton mill and fill segment of the larger 26,000-ton contract for Henrico County's primary roads maintenance project for VDOT. This overlay section is milled 1 ½ inches deep, and replaced with 1 ½ inches compacted 12.5E mix of 76-22 modified polymer liquid asphalt.

The contractor produced 1,200 to 1,500 tons a night.

For better control of Lee Hy's operations, over 70 GPS transmitters were installed in the contractor's dump trucks, distributor, service and tanker trucks. At the home office, progress of supply and demand is assessed, especially during weather changes or possible equipment malfunction.

Branscome Inc. of Williamsburg, will be one of the first contractors to agree as to their use of the Blaw-Knox/Volvo Road Machinery pavers used through the generations. The Tidewater Division has used Blaw-Knox equipment in their inventory for 35 years.

Currently, a PF-6170 paver is laying an SMA performance grade 70-22 mix type 12.5mm at night on Rte 460, a heavy truck route into the lower Norfolk, Chesapeake area. The road accesses large truck distribution centers for many store chains, plus numerous ports.

The project consisted of removing and replacing raised pavement markers, filling in rumble strips, and 15,000 square yards of edge millings. Three and one-half miles of four travel lanes, and six various length, center and right turn lanes were resurfaced with 11,000 tons of the SMA mix compacted to 1 ¾ inches. Some outside turn lanes and the street connectors used the typical SMA 9.5 mix. The crews worked Sunday through Thursday, starting at 7 p.m. establishing traffic delineation, until 6 a.m., when cars and trucks were back on the paved roads.

Adams Construction Co. is also using a Volvo Road Machinery paver 6000 series PF-6170 at night in downtown Roanoke. The contractor has to lay the complex SMA mix, to resurface and inlay I-581 for 6.4 miles in both directions. The $7-million project consists of three lanes with a four foot inside shoulder and 10-foot outside shoulder. Paving is at night only, from Sunday night to Thursday. All guardrails are replaced in the contract.

Traffic cones are positioned at about 9 p.m., after rush-hour. Milling starts next with paving commencing several hours after that. Inlay is 1 ½ inches compacted SMA mix, one lane, or a lane and shoulder at a time, until about 4:45 a.m. Another portion of the project is just a 1½ inches compacted overlay of the same SMA mix.

The paver speed is programmed for 30 fpm or less, depending upon truck flow to the MTV unit. As a result, the paver will not travel any faster, so not to hinder the rideability results.

Paul Jones, foreman of the paving crew, says it's one of the easiest pavers to use. "The speed control is so helpful. Punch in the number you want for speed on the LCD screen and you can worry about all the other things an operator needs to watch, not how fast you are going."

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