Interstate Highway Construction
Roller compacted concrete (RCC) pavements have become an increasingly popular alternative to either asphalt or Portland cement concrete (PCC) pavements. Therefore, Interstate Highway Construction (IHC), a full-service heavy civil contractor, has made its mark as one of the few companies delivering this method in the U.S. According to John L. Edwards, vice president of business development for IHC, industry acceptance of said-pavements has been fueled by a long history of successful applications in the industrial pavement marketplace, as well as more recent successes in roadway applications.
“Beginning in the 1970s, RCC pavements were first placed in Canada in industrial applications where surface durability, freeze thaw resistance and heavy loading resistance were required,” Edwards explains. “Over the last three decades, RCC pavements have grown from only limited uses to many more applications as improvements in equipment, placement methods, design and engineering and standard specifications have improved the quality of RCC pavements.”
Edwards goes on to note that with the advent of escalating oil prices and the country’s dependence on foreign oil, RCC pavements have gained an accelerated acceptance by the engineering community, state departments of transportation, the Army Corp of Engineers, as well as other members of private industry who require the performance and durability of a pavement that in most cases is cheaper than the asphalt pavement alternative.
“Historically, RCC pavements have enjoyed a cost position between that of asphalt and concrete pavements, where owner agencies were in need of a pavement with the characteristics of a concrete pavement at a cheaper cost,” Edwards continues. “As the price of asphalt escalates, RCC has recently gained the attention of the construction industry as a third alternative pavement type where the long-term durability and heavy load carrying capacity of concrete pavements can be utilized within tight budget constraints at a cost cheaper than the asphalt alternative. By utilizing RCC pavement in such applications, the construction industry can provide these means to a more attractive pavement alternative, while also helping to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.”
Paving the Way for Postwar Infrastructure Development
While the use of RCC is relatively new, IHC’s knack for innovation is as longstanding as the company’s 66-year run in business. The contractor formed in Michigan in 1947 in a postwar and pre-interstate era that offered ample room for a small contractor with limited resources to grow.
“We started with small jobs, including highway shoulder widening, subdivisions, basements and installing sewer leads,” recalls Edwards. “We rapidly became one of the leading contractors in the Interstate and Primary Highway Program.”
Riding the postwar infrastructure wave, IHC sought geographical diversification in 1976. “We were a low bidder on a runway reconstruction project at Denver Stapleton International Airport,” recounts Edwards. “This award-winning project led to a divisional office in Denver, furthered our airfield work and launched the start of a longstanding relationship with the Colorado Department of Transportation and other agencies and owners in the Rocky Mountain West.”
In 1995, IHC teamed with CEMEX, one of the world’s largest building materials suppliers and cement producers, to bring concrete paving technology into central Mexico’s Guadalajara-Tepic concession highway.
“Today, we remain based in Englewood, Colo., with approximately 400 employees throughout five operating divisions,” Edwards says. “We are building a broad range of projects in the Rocky Mountain region, Midwest and southwestern U.S.”
Rolling Out RCC
Recognizing the advantages to the construction industry that RCC pavements provide, IHC acquired the equipment, personnel and experience necessary to build the most complex of RCC pavements for any application. IHC’s experience in the production and placement of RCC pavements includes such owners as Denver International Airport, the US Army Corp of Engineers, the Port of Houston, as well as the Port of Long Beach, where specifications and quality standards for RCC are among the highest in the industry.
“RCC is a special blend of concrete that has essentially the same ingredients as conventional concrete but in different ratios,” explains Edwards. “The composite is a mix of cement water, sand, aggregate and common additives, but contains much less water and therefore less cement than traditional concrete mixes. This RCC blend results in a significant reduction of material and placement costs, while maintaining similar water cement ratios for adherence to strength requirements.”
IHC utilizes a Rapidmix 400 Pugmill to produce the RCC mixture in sufficient quantities to meet production goals, producing up to 400 tons per hour of highly uniform material. “It’s twin shaft mixing chamber combined with its computer aided material metering processes, ensures an RCC mixture that meets the highest industry standards,” Edwards details. IHC utilizes an Ingersoll Rand ABG 8820 high-density paver for placement of its RCC pavements, to assure the highest density possible of the mat prior to the start of rolling operations.
IHC is currently constructing the RCC pavement components of the Pier E Expansion of the Port of Long Beach as a subcontractor to the Herzog/Reyes joint venture. The project consists of approximately 190,000 square yards of 13.5-inch RCC placed in two consecutive lifts, as well as some 11- and 8-inch RCC placed in single lifts. RCC will be used in areas for container storage, cargo offloading, container movement, as well as roadways within the Pier E Expansion project.
For more than six decades, IHC has been leading the industry in innovation, building a respected reputation with customers and associations. “We’re active within the industry in numerous associations and we have won awards annually over the last 50 years for quality, innovation and safety,” reveals Edwards. Interstate Highway Construction continues to deliver cutting-edge technology and products across a wide range of markets, paving the way to improved infrastructure development.
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