Case Studies

Interstate 80 Tipton Exchange

Rehabilitating Major East-West Highway
  • Written by: Interstate 80 Tipton Exchange
  • Produced by: Interstate 80 Tipton Exchange
  • Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Plowing, salting and sanding are things that go hand-in-hand with Wyoming winters. While it’s necessary to treat roads during the harsh-weather months, such treatment can create major problems come spring and summer in the form of cracks, potholes and ruts. Deteriorating roads can be hazardous to drivers, especially when such conditions fall on major highways such as Interstate 80.

To address ongoing road deterioration, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has launched a major road rehabilitation effort throughout the state. One major section receiving much needed attention is the span of Interstate 80 from Rock Springs to Rawlin. The highway is a major east-to-west route from New Jersey to California. In Wyoming, the highway reaches its highest elevation of its nearly 2,900-mile-long stretch.

For this particular portion of Interstate 80, McMurry Ready Mix (McMurry) will rehabilitate the section near Tipton Interchange. McMurry will provide the area with new pavement on both lanes. The $17 million project broke ground in spring 2012 and is expected to be complete July 2013. According to a WYDOT official, the project includes grading and drainage work at the Tipton interchange area, roto-milling the existing pavement surface, bridge rehabilitation and laying multiple layers of new pavement.

Laying Pavement for Miles

Casper-based McMurry is one of Wyoming’s largest aggregate producers. The company performs all facets of heavy construction work, including concrete and crushing. With a large fleet of construction equipment and trucks, McMurry can handle most any size project. Founded over 65 years ago, McMurry brings extensive experience in heavy highway and site work construction to the interstate project.

Many of McMurry’s employees have been with the company for quite some time. For instance, Jason Kuznia, project manager for McMurry’s work on Interstate 80, has worked for the company since 1988. Kuznia has worked on many projects for WYDOT, including a project on this particular section of road 12 years ago. “WYDOT goes throughout state and checks roads,” says Kuznia. “It was time to do this one.”

McMurry is rehabilitating an eight-mile section of Interstate 80, requiring about 130,000 tons of mix for the project. The stretch of road also includes eight ramps that need attention, as well. Having worked on many projects like this, Kuznia says, “It’s just a typical project for me.”

However, Kuznia does admit that since starting the project, the company has faced some challenges. On this particular stretch of road, McMurry is using a recycled mix for a base layer. How to create the right portions of mix is calculated by computers at the company’s headquarters, but it can still be challenging to achieve. According to Kuznia, having a mix with ratios that aren’t quite right can produce a lot of problems for workers in the field.

McMurry also subcontracts out work for pipe laying and fencing, among other things. Kuznia says working with subcontractors can be a scheduling nightmare. If subcontractors don’t do work, it’s hard for McMurry as the general contractor to get its portion of the job done. As with any project, the company is working to meet budget and scheduling restrictions to get the job done on budget and on time.

Drive with Caution

While the purpose of the project is to create safer roads for motorists, road rehabilitation often causes stressful driving, especially in this case, as Interstate 80 is a popular route for motorists. Throughout the duration of the project, McMurry crews were working in the median and cutting traffic to a single lane east- and west-bound. The first phase of the project focused on eastbound lanes. The second phase focused on westbound lanes.

Kuznia says that scheduling lane closures and working while vehicles are driving by is an important aspect of any roadwork job. McMurry subcontracts with other companies for traffic control while the project is ongoing. Weather permitting, the team at McMurry Ready Mix should be out of motorists way by summer 2013, ensuring the new Interstate 80 Tipton Exchange provides smooth driving for all.

Published on: April 1, 2013


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