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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / August 2001

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-RD-01-066
Date: August 2001

In and Out in 72 Hours

Seventy-two hours and time to spare. Faced with three intersections on U.S. 395 in Kennewick, Washington, that needed to be completely reconstructed last fall, the Washington State Department of Transportation (DOT) took the unconventional route and shut each intersection down completely for one weekend to perform the necessary repair work with full depth concrete. The roads were closed at 7:00 p.m. on a Thursday and were required to be reopened by 6:00 a.m. on Monday. In each case, the contractor, Inland Asphalt, completed the work ahead of schedule and the roads were back in service by Sunday evening.

"Many people think concrete streets require 14 or 28 days of curing before allowing traffic on them," says Tom Nelson of the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA). However, these intersections were reconstructed with a high early-strength Portland cement concrete mix that allowed the roads to be opened to traffic within about 12 hours. To ensure that the project stayed on schedule, the contractor used a critical path timeline based on hours, not days. Inland Asphalt also employed such techniques as keeping an extra milling machine onsite as a backup, in case the machine being used broke down.

Three intersections in Kennewick, Washington, were completely closed to traffic for 3 days, allowing for uninterrupted reconstruction work.

Equally critical was keeping area residents and businesses informed about the reconstruction plans and letting motorists know about alternate routes. Numerous meetings were held during the design phase of the project to allow for public input. The DOT also contacted local business owners prior to the construction work to explain the reconstruction process and held weekly meetings to update the media. Media coverage started a week before the actual road closures, which allowed the public time to prepare for using detour routes. "Going into this, the community was skeptical. But when all was said and done, they were very happy that they were only affected one weekend," says Nelson.

Following the weekend closures, the DOT interviewed about 40 businesses surrounding the intersections. While all of the businesses reported being affected by the closures and most had experienced a loss in sales, every respondent indicated that he or she would support weekend closures in the future for reconstruction work, rather than construction occurring over a longer period of time. Typical responses included: "Less impact overall," "Get it over with-It is more clogged doing it during the week," and "Businesses will not be affected as long with closures."

Men at Intersection.
The three intersections were reconstructed with full depth concrete
Open House Booklet.

"The DOT's South Central Region was very pleased with the way things went. The project ran smoothly. We got the people in, got the job done, and impacted the public for just a short time," says Jeff Uhlmeyer of Washington State DOT.

To highlight the project and how it was accomplished, the Washington State DOT, Federal Highway Administration, and ACPA held an open house on June 19, 2001. The event was intended for design and construction personnel, material suppliers, contractors, and representatives from government agencies. It drew 75 people from Canada, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Washington State, with city and county agencies, public works offices, contractors, consultants, and State DOT officials all represented. Attendees heard from the project engineer and the contractor, as well as the city manager and local merchants. They also had the opportunity to tour the project sites and see the finished product. "Everyone was very impressed," says Nelson.

The intersection reconstruction work was documented as part of the Innovative Pavement Research Foundation's research program. A video and report on the reconstructions are currently being prepared.

For more information on the Kennewick intersection reconstructions, contact Jeff Uhlmeyer at Washington State DOT, 360-709-5485 (email: uhlmeyj@wsdot.wa.gov), or Tom Nelson at ACPA, 360-956-7080 (email: nelsontl@uswest.net).

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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