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Exit 120 Reconstruction Almost Completed - Slideshow
Posting Date: 04/03/2012

By Barbara Ellestad
Construction workers pour the final ribbon of concrete on the I-15, Exit 120 reconstruction project. The new roundabouts are set to open to traffic Apr. 10. Photo by Barbara Ellestad

Construction workers pour the final ribbon of
concrete on the I-15, Exit 120 reconstruction
project. The new roundabouts are set to open to
traffic Apr. 10. Photo by Barbara Ellestad

I hadn't been to the I-15 Exit 120 reconstruction job site since the bridge slide in January. I've driven through the construction zone many times since then and marveled at how fast the workers were making progress. So I made a visit last week to check up on the guys and see how they were doing.

I guess Alan Preston, Project Manager for the W.W. Clyde general contractor, was pretty much on target when he said at the Mar. 27 Mesquite City Council meeting that he would be opening the new roundabouts to regular traffic on Apr. 10. The day I went they were pouring the last strip of concrete under the new bridges.

When I met up with Preston, he wasn't looking near as nervous as when he was standing in the Council Chambers announcing the project had already been given its first of many awards. Out here with his hardhat on, he looked right at home.

"If we get all the concrete poured by Friday, we'll have the new road open on the 10th," Preston commented. "My plan is to have substantial completion by the end of April. That means all the signs, the lights, and the roadways will be done. All I'll have after that are the punch list items. By the end of May we should be completely out of here. That includes landscaping and painting the design work on the new bridge."

Checking it out on Monday, he was correct; all the concrete is finished.

"The landscaping will start happening in the next three weeks. The painters will start painting the structure the second week in April. The guys will be here in a couple weeks to finish the walls. When they are all done, it will look like river rock," he commented.

We walked over to the monstrous machine that was smoothing out a five-or-so inch thick layer of concrete freshly poured by the Sunroc cement trucks. Preston called the big yellow monster a "Gomaco slip form paver."

Okay, I believe him.

I'm always amazed at how someone can think up, let alone design and build, some of the intricate machinery I've seen used on this job. How did they figure out where to put the little vibrating tubes that sink into the liquid concrete and settle it into its new home? Amazing.

"You don't have to set any forms with it," Preston said as he showed me how the machine smoothes out the concrete. "One side we have to set forms because of the changing widths of the concrete. But we don't have to use forms on the other side. The concrete is dry enough it stands up by itself."

They use the machine on the outside lane and then set the concrete on the inside lane by hand, "because it's so small," Preston said. He promised to be done with all the concrete paving on Friday and he was right. "We have to let it set 10 days before we can put any traffic on it. Then we'll put all the curbs and gutters on it after that."

I teased him about when he was going to start classes to teach people how to drive in a roundabout. "Well, you just keep driving around and around

until you get tired," he teased back. Turning serious, he said, "these are actually designed in such a way that if you miss your turn-out the first time, the traffic patterns will move you into it the second time. So it might easier to say to yourself 'I missed the exit, I'll get it the second time.'"

I was thinking to myself that the Police Department could just keep an officer there full time for all the accidents and near-misses we may have.

Have you ever noticed the little grooves in cement that help with water run-off and provide traction to vehicles? Do you wonder how they get created? The answer is quite simple - use a small piece of AstroTurf hooked to a long wooden handle and pull it across the wet concrete. Now you know.

Once the concrete is cured and hardened, a worker comes in with a saw and cuts big grooves into the solid surface. Preston called them 'soft cuts.' That allows the concrete to expand and contract with the weather and prevents unwanted cracks that would cause a rough surface.

"One thing you can guarantee about concrete is that it will crack," he explained as he showed me the braces the crew fastens into the road base just before the concrete is poured over them.

"We lowered the finished road surface a foot from where it was originally," Preston said. "We've used 350 cubic yards of concrete on the project."

"I'll be excited to get the walls done," Preston said about the huge retaining walls that surround the base of each bridge. He showed me a sample of the river rock appliqué that will be applied and he's right, it is beautiful.

Explaining why the roundabouts are concrete and the rest of the roadways and ramps emanating from them are poured in asphalt, he said "concrete has a longer life than asphalt. Historically, in five to 10 years, they'll have to resurface the asphalt. Concrete won't have to be replaced for 30 to 50 years. With all the truck traffic that will traveling on the roundabouts, the roadway will last longer."

I related a question to Preston that someone had asked me; how many people had the general contractor employed from Mesquite. "Not very many," he replied. "This is a Union job so most of our workers came out of the Union Hall in Las Vegas. We've had some from Los Angeles and some from Kingman. It depends on the Union and wherever it gets its workers from."

He added that W.W. Clyde has used subcontractors from Mesquite like Forsgren Associates, and a few office workers are local residents. "The Porta-Potty supplier is local and we also got all of our fuel from local companies. Plus, we all eat in the local restaurants. I eat more than anybody," he quipped. "I've been to all the restaurants in town."

I remember Preston telling me last Fall that he intended to finish the whole project before the formal due date in June. From the looks of it, he'll be correct.

All I know is that I can't wait for the spur from the south roundabout to Leavitt Lane to open. No more fighting traffic on Riverside Road for me.

 

 
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