Steel support piles stretched three stories high Friday afternoon at the site of a Poplar Bluff Industrial Park overpass project, as those involved in the four- year effort discussed its progress. Those support piles mark where the bridge deck will go when work is completed on the retaining walls that sit on either side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. About 25 trains a day pass through this section of farm- land southwest of the industrial park.
“We need about 120 working days to finish. Typically, that’s an average of about six months,” explained Travis Slayton, project manager with Robertson Contractors. “It just depends on the weather. We’re down to the weather right now.”
The overpass bridge is expected to carry about 2,000 vehicles a day when it opens, serving about a dozen factories.As the $3.4 million project enters its homestretch, it has been anything but an easy process.
LOCAL EFFORT CREATES SUCCESS
NEW JOBS OFFER NEW OPPORTUNITY
The effort to fund this overpass started in early 2015, when the county received a $1.4 million grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development and $1 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The grants were awarded because of an expansion in 2014 by Mid-Continent Nail that added over 70 jobs to the industrial park. In 2015, project costs were expected to be about $2.7 million in total. While officials tried to close funding gaps, costs for the project went up and additional changes were needed to the design. When bids were sought and opened in July 2017, they were approximately $700,000 higher than the original budget. Costs for a crash wall alone had doubled, to approximately $1 million, in the span of a year, engineers said at the time.
BUILT TO LAST
“Butler County, Horner & Shifrin and our goals are to have a high quality project delivered on an expedited schedule,” said Jake Robertson, a project manager with Robertson Contractors. The design requires two and a half feet of concrete between the train tracks and the bridge supporting elements, to create a crash cushion.
The concrete walls on either side of the tracks are backed by a combined 76,000 cubic yards of dirt and 30,000 tons of rock. Steel straps are secured into the rock to hold the walls in place. This will become the road bed.
Robertson is required to closely monitor the moisture level in the soil at the project before determining if a workday can start. The correct moisture level pre- vents settlement within the embankment during construction, Slayton said. Three measurement devices are in place at the site to collect data on how much the subsurface below the new earthen structure settles over time, he explained. The field data is reviewed weekly. Construction was delayed during the winter months because of moisture levels in the soil, Slayton said. “The earth work is very sensitive,” he said. “We’re building it under DOT (Department of Transportation) specifications. It has to be a certain moisture level to work and it takes time when you don’t have the warmer temperatures of the summer months.”
FINISH IN SIGHT
Original Arcticle and Photo from
Daily American Republic/Donna Farley