The California Dept. of Transportation is nearing completion of a $5-million experimental project using a plate-pile system to stabilize almost 2 miles of embankment at an interchange near Colusa, Calif. Caltrans officials say the method may shave $3 million off the cost of a conventional method. Caltrans is using a proprietary system in which steel plates are affixed to poles, or piles, and inserted into stable strata underlying loose soil, transmitting the slide forces downward to the stiffer material. The technique has been used on several municipal projects but is a first for Caltrans, says Richard Short, founder and president
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.