Bell Road

Arizona DOT Keeps Tight Schedule on US 60 Interchange Project

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) hopes to soon reopen a section of Bell Road in Surprise, Arizona, that has been closed since April. The road was closed as part of a project to construct a new Bell Road bridge over U.S. 60 (Grand Avenue) and the adjacent BSNF railroad tracks. With the aim of increasing safety and reducing congestion, the bridge is replacing the previous ground-level intersection and crossing.

The closure was planned in order to reduce overall construction impacts and speed the entire project. The work is being carried out in a busy commercial section of Surprise, a burgeoning community northwest of Phoenix, which Forbes magazine listed, along with two neighboring municipalities, as among the 10 fastest-growing suburbs in the United States.

Multi-Phase Project

The full closure of Bell Road between 134th Avenue and West Point Parkway began in April, timed to occur after the conclusion of the Cactus League season at Surprise Stadium. The goal of the project team was to reopen Bell Road to traffic in time for the holiday shopping season, and the current estimate is that it will be open by the end of the year. Although not all of the work will be completed at that time, reopening Bell Road will allow improved access to businesses in the area.

The project began in January, with contractor Coffman Specialties, Inc., focused on work along the center median of Grand Avenue near Bell Road. That construction along the Grand Avenue median prepared for the addition of the median on- and off-ramps connecting to the new Bell Road overpass. The work was done in stages, with the initial activity focused on the center median area and the ramp construction. Later in the schedule, traffic switched toward the median to allow construction of the Grand Avenue “through lanes” in the area.

MUD Interchange

Transportation officials see the new interchange as an important improvement. Laying out the alternatives, a Design Concept Report in January 2015, said building an interchange would provide a significant benefit by constructing a new grade-separated intersection that would eliminate the existing BNSF Railway at-grade crossing and allow traffic movements on U.S. 60, Bell Road, and between U.S. 60 and Bell Road to occur at the existing intersection location.

Steve Elliott, Assistant Communications Director for Public Information for Arizona DOT, explained that a number of factors went into deciding on the preferred alternative for the design of the interchange project.

“The MUD (medium urban diamond) design satisfies the traffic operational characteristics, provides the railroad grade separation, provides access between the two roadways and minimizes right-of-way and impacts to the neighboring commercial centers,” Elliott said. “Other interchange types would have required more land and more impacts to businesses.”

The MUD interchange design means that through traffic on Grand Avenue will no longer stop at Bell Road. Instead, the two roadways will be connected via new on- and off-ramps constructed within the Grand Avenue median.

Cost Savings with Design-Build

Elliott noted that public agencies involved in the development and evaluation process included ADOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the Maricopa Association of Governments, Maricopa County Department of Transportation and the City of Surprise.

The original cost estimate for the project was just over $66.5 million, with $14 million going to right of way acquisition. And, although over $52 million was programmed for design and construction, Elliott said, “The contractor bid came in roughly 20 percent less than programmed. This is a typical trend for a design-build project.”

Elliott said the design-build delivery process was used following the established federal regulations in Title 23 C.F.R. Part 636. Coffman Specialties, Inc., a San Diego, California firm specialized in large public and governmental projects, won the contract with a bid of $41.9 million. “This yields a $10 million savings in construction cost,” Elliott said.

One notable aspect of the project was the use of a mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) wall. Not uncommon, Elliott notes, and it did not require deploying any special machinery, but “still unique and requires use of an engineered fill.” The project also has several custom aesthetic treatments (Fence, Barrier finish, MSE panel finish). As in a growing number of projects, LED street lighting will be used.

Construction is continuing, but some estimates on quantities are:

    Structural Concrete: 7000 cubic yards
    Portland Cement Concrete Poured: 20,000 square yards
    Asphaltic Concrete: 25,000 Tons
    Borrow: 60,000 cubic yards
    Reclaimed asphalt and concrete have been used.
    The contractor crew size varies depending on activities of the day, Elliott said, “but we have had as many as 110 employees of the contractors and subcontractors personnel working in one day on various items.”

The contractor hasn’t encountered any major difficulties to date. Elliott said, “In this high commercial area, utilities were the biggest unknown. Though there were some surprises along way, no major delays resulted.”

Article by Peter Eisenhauer of Rocky Mountain Construction

Cajon Pass Project

Cajon Pass Pavement Repair Project Begins

Caltrans: Two years of work to yield 50 years of durability.

CAJON PASS • Commuters will drive around moveable work zones in the Cajon Pass area for the next two years, but the construction results are expected to last 50 years.

In the Interstate 15 Cajon Pass Rehabilitation Project, Caltrans will undertake resurfacing and restoring the roadway pavement while managing traffic flow for peak-travel-hour efficiency.

The affected area runs from about two miles south of Highway 395 in Hesperia to just south of the Kenwood Avenue exit in the Cajon Pass.

Contractors will use mobile K-rail moving equipment to shift the concrete lane barriers daily to manage traffic flow.

Coffman Specialties Inc. and Parsons Corp. joined efforts to design and build the $120 million project. All funding comes from the State Highway Operation and Protection Program, which pays for restoration projects on aging highways not otherwise funded.

The 10-year SHOPP plan estimates an average $2.3 billion in work to be delivered each year. Only the highest-priority statewide needs are targeted this year, according to Caltrans.

Caltrans says the Cajon Pass project will extend the interstate lanes’ service life with minimal expense. It consists of replacing two outer Portland cement concrete pavement lanes and asphalt concrete shoulders and patched areas; grinding and replacing slabs needing repair in interior lanes; rehabilitating ramp pavement; and upgrading and installing roadside safety features.

Future nighttime lane closures generally will take place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., depending on day and direction of travel affected, Caltrans spokeswoman Joy Sepulveda said.

The moveable-median concept for enhanced driver safety was pioneered during the recently completed Doyle Drive Bypass/Presidio Parkway construction in San Francisco, project managers said.

A brief, narrated video describing the process can be viewed at Cajon Pass Project Narrative.

Information about the project, including the managed traffic-flow animation, was made available to the public at two open houses hosted last week in Victorville and Phelan.

Work on the Cajon Pass Rehabilitation Project began recently with contractors strengthening the roadway shoulders. The project is slated to be completed by June 2016.

The project can be followed online at Cajon Pass Project and through related social media channels.

Gary Brodeur may be contacted at 760-951-6245 or Follow him on Twitter @DP_gbrodeur.