The Missouri Dept. of Transportation’s request for proposals was challenging: The agency wanted 11.5 miles of Interstate 64 through St. Louis redesigned, upgraded and modernized, with 30 bridges and overpasses rebuilt; it wanted the project completed in four years, and it wanted it all for $420 million. Two teams vied for the contract. One proposed to deliver eight miles in 48 months. The winner proposed to deliver 10 miles in 45 months.

With I-64 closed, contractors were not distracted by maintenance-of-traffic issues.
Photo: Missouri DOT
With I-64 closed, contractors were not distracted by maintenance-of-traffic issues.

Don Rasmussen led Gateway Constructors Inc., the winning design-build joint venture that conceived the plan to completely close half of the highway in 2008, reopen it and close the other half in 2009. “Gateway’s approach to shut the entire highway down in five-mile segments and use Interstate 170 as a pivot-point on the project is what allowed them to come up with constructing this entire thing without having to go through a lot of temporary traffic controls and temporary shoring and paving,” says Ronald Morris, MoDOT’s deputy project director.

The solution was not immediately popular. St. Louisans feared the worst when the road they loved to hate was closed. And Rasmussen, project executive in the Minneapolis office of JV member Granite Construction Inc., admits that he saw maintaining the “aggressive schedule” as his biggest challenge, followed by maintaining the regional traffic and keeping the public informed. But close teamwork between the owner and contractors minimized disruption.

“This is a true team project,” says Rasmussen. “There were a number of different organizations and leaders,” all of whom had to cooperate to make the complex reconstruction project work. Granite formed the JV with Fred Weber Inc. and Millstone Bangert Inc., both of St. Louis. The design team, led by Parsons Corp., included five subconsultants.

Rasmussen’s joint-venture design-build team of three partners and six design firms conceived and executed the innovative reconstruction of a deteriorating highway through St. Louis’ heart.

The I-64 rebuild was MoDOT’s first design-build project and the first to employ the cost cap with a geographically defined scope. Now, its success has led the legislature to authorize other design-build projects, says Morris.