On May 26, INDOT shut down the route, a major access point from the northeastern suburbs that was meant to carry 65,000 vehicles but has been handling 75,000, says M. Sean Porter, project manager with local firm American Consulting Inc. The engineer is working for INDOT under a $2-million design and traffic maintenance contract and helped in the decision to shut down the road completely for repairs (ENR 2/3 p. 20).
There had been no major repairs to the interchange since it opened in 1976, says Nicol. In convincing the public and the politicians to totally shut down the link, "we had to make sure we had a fully developed plan looking at all the options and issues," says Nicol. "That was critical." The DOT spent 9 months on a public awareness campaign, highlighting alternative routes and hiring a public relations firm that came up with the "Hyperfix 65-70" tagline.
The project required unanticipated double shifts on weekends due to rough weather, including 4.8 inches of rain in July, says Walsh senior project manager Brad Koester. Demolition required a peak number of 30 workers. "We broke down the job into smaller phases and picked milestone days," he says. "We hit hard on the removal phase to gain days. Crews did about 30,000 cu yd of new paving and had to overcome one harrowing incident. "A drunk driver came through barricades into about 400 ft worth of freshly paved concrete," says Porter. "He hit a screed machine worth $200,000 and caused a couple of days setback."
"Later in the project, the contractor had to replace about 800 ft of pavement that didnt meet our standards," says Nicol. "That almost made them miss the early completion, but they doubled up the efforts."
Some successful preparation work added $180,000 to Walshs $3-million bonus, says Porter, and the contractor could add another $200,000 in the last phases. Those include widening out a northbound ramp from I-65 to I-70 and adding an eastbound lane, says Koester. Walsh has added lanes to the north and south ramps as well. The contractor was also subject to penalites, and would have payed $100,000 a day for every day beyond the scheduled 55 days if the interchange were not reopened.
The full closure was a bit of a luxury for the contractor. "Were usually behind barrier walls or worse yet, barrels," says Koester. In addition to the increased safety, "when you have the whole road to yourselves, youve got more options. You can shift on the fly and do different things," he says.
An unexpected side success benefited transit. "We have had 300 to 500 people in one location taking buses and using park and ride," says Nicol. "It was so successful that we will continue the buses through the end of the year." On the second day after the interchange reopened, 452 people were riding the bus, he notes. "It may spur some regional transit opportunities."