Gohmann Asphalt & Construction Company: Interstate 69, Evansville to Indianapolis
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is undertaking a highway project that has been in the works for over 50 years. Corridor 18 – a section of Interstate 69 (I-69), which connects Mexico to Canada by way of the U.S. – is under construction between Evansville, Ind., and Indianapolis. There will be no tolls along the segment in Indiana, as the project is being funded by state and federal agencies as an asset to infrastructure, and therefore it is being doubly scrutinized and requires expert workmanship. Known for the ability to design and build challenging highway components, the Gohmann Asphalt & Construction Company (Gohmann) has been fulfilling three contracts that required a 60-mile stretch of the project to be completed within a two-year timeframe.
Gohmann is an experienced regional contractor specializing in heavy highway construction throughout Indiana and Kentucky. The company’s portfolio incorporates a broad range of horizontal construction services, including earthwork, bridge construction, plus concrete and asphalt paving. The company, which began operating in 1950 and is based in Clarksville, Ind., has involved all of its divisions on the I-69 project, which is moving along despite geographic and diplomatic challenges, as the project has crossed a lot of coal areas that have required the jump from asphalt to concrete and back because of strip mining or underground mining. In addition, finding enough trucks, equipment and materials in such a compressed period has been a challenge.
Jason Yeager, regional vice president for Gohmann, says the toughest part of the project has been scheduling. “[INDOT] wanted the job done in two years,” he explains. “We’ve held an aggressive schedule from the beginning, but before construction could begin we had to wait on right-of-ways and permits.” One of his contracts has lost nearly six months of work time waiting on right-of-way.
Taking Care of Business
While the I-69 project has had some setbacks, Yeager says the project is back on track and he doesn’t foresee any more significant delays. “The most important strategy is to plan ahead,” he explains. To resolve right-of-way and permitting issues, he says his team took the initiative to push for “right-of-entries” on its own. “We couldn’t just wait for the state,” says Yeager. Gohmann ended up taking on most of the right-of-way permit process, resolving landowner concerns and developing agreeable terms with the private parties.
Gohmann is one of several contractors along the many sections of the new highway. Gohmann has worked with many of them before, and the cooperative efforts have run smoothly so far. However, Gohmann is self-performing a vast majority of the work wherever possible in its multiple contracts on the I-69 project. “We’ve got a lot of resources [from machinery to quarries],” he explains. “We really only sub specialty items like soil stabilization, guardrail, fencing, striping and signs.”
Gohmann has previously finishes two prime contracts on the 60-mile I-69 corridor, and currently holds three prime contracts and two additional contracts as a paving subcontractor. Gohmann’s current contract responsibilities on I-69 include design-build and design-bid-build segments, as well as hot-mix asphalt and concrete paving duties. In the last two years alone the company has moved over 4 million cubic yards of dirt, built 26 bridges, laid over 500,000 tons of hot-mix asphalt, and poured 400,000 square yards of concrete pavement. In addition to the design/build contract, Gohmann has proposed significant value engineering plans for both bid/build contracts that have saved Indiana a substantial amount of money. One value engineering proposal saved Indiana over $4 million and won a 2011 Be Inspired Award from Bentley’s architecture, engineering and infrastructure global design competition.
To assure all of these components are properly coordinated there are three project managers onsite at the highway project. “Larry Miller doubles as general superintendent,” explains Yeager. “He’s been in the business as long as I have and he’s got a lot of experience.” Scott O’Neil, another of his project managers, is also an engineer, which Yeager says comes with big benefits. “He understands a lot of the constraints the designers are under,” he elaborates. “He can understand the ins and outs, the cans and can’t dos to make feasible suggestions to the design engineer.” Brian Schaeffer has joined the team and has provided valuable experience to help with these projects.
The chain of supply has been another important factor in the success of the project, and the company is selective about vendors and subcontractors. “Mainly we look at the experience we’ve had with them in the past,” explains Yeager. “A good reputation is important. We want people who can meet schedules and provide quality work.”
With the help of these important subcontractors, Gohmann and other companies involved in the project are securing a safe, efficient route of transportation. The planning of the highway focuses on regional present and future transportation needs. Concerns were initially raised that the new corridor project would act simply as a duplicate of other cross-country routes between the country’s northern and southern borders. I-69 has been specifically planned to provide better access to the United States’ cities where manufacturing, processing and other facilities will benefit from better highway systems to move goods around the continent.
So far, Yeager is feeling good about the project, and he has a lot of experience with what makes for a successful job. “I’ve been in this industry full time since 1991,” he explains. Prior to working for Gohmann, he was employed by INDOT as a project engineer. “Looking back, it’s offered me a lot of perspective,” he explains. “It’s helped me make better suggestions and solve problems in a way that is more meaningful to the project.” He prefers working with a private contractor, however, as it allows him more freedom and a different set of challenges, and clients appreciate his experience, which has been integral to the I-69 project.
The I-69 project utilizes proper planning and traffic control to build efficient routes. Planning teams have collaborated to reduce congestion along the corridor, allowing businesses to move product more quickly than on older routes and highways. When the Corridor 18 segment of Interstate 69 officially opens, the Gohmann Asphalt & Construction Company can be proud to be a part of one of the nation’s corridors of the future, as well as many invaluable infrastructure arteries to come.
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