Case Studies

I-90 Exit 14 Project – Heavy Constructors Inc

Creating smooth traffic flow to support local businesses and community

Slated for completion in late 2017, the I-90 Exit 14 project in Spearfish, South Dakota, will replace the existing bridge with a new single-point interchange. The existing bridge is a two-lane structure overpass with more than 11,000 cars passing over it per day. The new interchange will include new on- and off-ramps, which will improve traffic flow, access and increase safety. The steady flow of traffic will support local businesses, which include retail centers, car dealerships and hotels.

I-90 Exit 14 Project – Heavy Constructors Inc

In a standard low-bid scenario, the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) awarded the Exit 14 project to Heavy Constructors Inc., a Rapid City, South Dakota-based general contractor in the highway, bridge and civil construction markets. Founded in 1919 by Dave Gustafson as Dave Gustafson & Co., Heavy Constructors has created a rich history in numerous construction markets and has generated two subdivisions along the way — Gustafson Builders and Excavating Specialists. A family-operated business since day one, Gustafson’s grandson, Dave Gustafson, is currently the company’s third-generation president.

Always aiming to be ahead of schedule

The Exit 14 project is being completed in three phases, with phases 1, 2A and 2B completed in August 2016. In mid-August, construction began on phase 2C and will run until the end of November 2016, breaking for winter. Phase 3 of the project will start in March 2017 and again in mid-August, allowing a break for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which occurs during the first week of August.

“The city of Sturgis is 18 miles from the project and draws more than a million people every year for the motorcycle rally,” says Dave Dailey, project executive and heavy highway division manager for Heavy Constructors. “It is critical that all lanes of traffic are open for the event. There are no excuses to not have it prepared for that.” All final work and cleanup of the project is slated for June 2018.

Two years ago, Heavy Constructors adopted a linear scheduling system as its primary tool for heavy highway projects. Since then, the company has seen a major improvement in its ability to complete projects ahead of schedule. “What makes it so much better than the critical path method is our ability to see the project sequencing, timing, conflicts and areas for improving or expediting the schedule,” says Dailey. “Our field personnel are better informed and really like the ease of understanding that it provides.”

For the Exit 14 project, Heavy Constructors has four E-sized drawings that depict the entire job and are displayed in the office trailer for view every day. ‘The project owners like the schedule for the same reason our people do,” adds Dailey. “We always strive to complete every project ahead of schedule with high quality while maintaining a solid working relationship with all project stakeholders.” Tom Stalley, project manager for Heavy Constructors is on-site every day to ensure all deadlines are met and the job operates smoothly.

Dailey says that one of the top priorities for Heavy Constructors on the Exit 14 project is maintaining responsiveness to the project needs. This includes traffic control, ensuring that adjacent property owners are happy, completing project paperwork correctly and submitting certifications correctly. Climate also presents a challenge to the job as Exit 14 is located on the north side of the Black Hills, where the weather is known for tendency to change suddenly and without notice.

“The way the jet stream comes down over the mountains can turn a perfect day into a terrible one,” Dailey explains. “The weather might cause us to shut down for a day or two but we are proactive and prepare for the unexpected to happen.”

Reliable solutions

Due to its high-quality work and ability to complete jobs ahead of schedule and within budget, Heavy Constructors has been able to establish a solid relationship with SDDOT. Through the annual prequalification process, the company proves over and over that Heavy Constructors is the go-to company for heavy highway construction.

The Exit 14 project is the fourth reconstruction job that Heavy Constructors has completed for SDDOT. Other projects have included a new connector route that encompasses Rapid City and projects on Jackson Boulevard, which were reconstruction jobs on the main arterials that run through Rapid City.

With an experienced and knowledgeable staff of project managers, superintendents, safety directors, foremen and labor crews, Heavy Constructors has the capacity to complete every project on time and within budget without sacrificing excellence or professionalism. With 86 years’ experience, Heavy Constructors Inc. is recognized as one of the best contractors in the industry.

Published on: October 14, 2016


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