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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > December 2006 > Highways for LIFE Announces 2006 Projects
December 2006Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-07-009

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Highways for LIFE Announces 2006 Projects

Highway projects in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Carolina have been selected as recipients of the 2006 Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Highways for LIFE (HfL) program grants. Each State will receive $1 million to help incorporate new technologies and approaches that will cut construction time while improving quality, safety, and durability.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) will use the grant for reconstruction of the 24th Street Bridge interchange in Council Bluffs. The overhead structure that carries 24th Street traffic over Interstate 29/80 will be replaced in two phases. The interchange ramps, 24th Street, and westbound Interstate 29/80 will also be reconstructed to the extent required to accommodate the proposed bridge location, roadway width, length, and grade. Iowa estimates that the project would normally take two construction seasons using standard construction processes, but is accelerating the schedule to accomplish the work in half that time. Construction will begin in the fall of 2007 and be completed by the fall of 2008.

"The Highways for LIFE program goals matched the goals we have for our highway program. There were many innovations that could be used on the project that would result in a project that was safer, had a shorter construction schedule, and that would result in a longer lasting structure," says Sandra Larson, Director of Iowa DOT's Research and Technology Bureau.

Helping to accelerate the schedule will be the use of full-depth precast concrete deck panels that can be fabricated offsite and installed overnight, sparing drivers months of delays and reducing safety hazards for workers. Iowa DOT recently participated in a bridge project with Boone County, Iowa, that used precast pier caps, abutment caps, and deck panels. The experience gained in that project will be beneficial as Iowa embarks on the larger 24th Street project, notes Norm McDonald, Director of Iowa DOT's Bridges and Structures Office. "The 24th Street Bridge will be the first State-owned girder bridge to use full-depth precast deck panels," says McDonald.

Iowa will also use high performance concrete and high performance steel to improve quality, increase durability, and speed up construction. A structural health monitoring system will monitor structural stresses during construction and for about 18 months after the project is completed. In addition, A + B (cost plus time) bidding will allow Iowa to select the most efficient bid by considering both construction cost and duration.

Iowa, Minnesota, and South Carolina will each receive $1 million to help incorporate new technologies and approaches that will cut construction time while improving quality, safety, and durability.

Iowa DOT's extensive community outreach on the project to date has included public meetings, distribution of a newsletter, and a meeting with businesses that will be impacted by the reconstruction. A project Web site and user survey are also being planned.

In Minnesota, the HfL funds will be used for the reconstruction of approximately 3.2 km (2 mi) of Trunk Highway (TH) 36 in North St. Paul. The proposed upgrades, including work on resurfacing, grading, bridges, retaining walls, drainage, and lighting, will improve the safety and capacity of the roadway by converting this segment of TH 36 to a freeway facility.

An aerial view of the 24th Street Bridge interchange in Council Bluffs, IA (shown at bottom left of photo).
An aerial view of the 24th Street Bridge interchange in Council Bluffs, IA (shown at bottom left of photo).

"This project was already being planned when we heard about Highways for LIFE," says Tom Ravn, Innovative Contracting Director for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT). "Highways for LIFE really fit into what we wanted to do in terms of trying new things and incorporating innovations into the project."

Mn/DOT will close the highway segment completely for reconstruction for 5 months starting in April 2007. After the road is reopened in September 2007, work will continue with some off-peak lane closures until the expected project completion date in June 2008. The full closure will cut nearly a year off the normal construction time. Mn/DOT will also use A + B (cost plus time) bidding to reduce contract time, as well as lane rentals to cut down on the number of lane closures. After the 5-month complete roadway closure, the contractor will be charged a fixed fee for lane closures. "This will reduce the impact and annoyance to the public," says Ravn. Additional project innovations will include using intelligent compaction rollers and lightweight deflectometers to improve the quality of grading operations.

Public outreach is an important part of the project. Mn/DOT announced the road closure a year in advance and has held 10 public information meetings, as well as extensive one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders. "While there is some concern by local businesses, most public feedback has been positive to date," says Ravn. Additional outreach that is planned includes open houses, a workshop to assist local businesses with impacts during construction, direct mailings, and a project Web site. Mn/DOT will also conduct a user satisfaction survey at the completion of the project.

The South Carolina Department of Transportation's (SCDOT) selected project will replace four structurally deficient bridges on SC-377 over the Black River in Williamsburg County. The project will begin at the intersection of US 521 and SC 377 and stretch for approximately 2.4 km (1.5 mi) toward Kingstree. Truck traffic will be detoured due to the condition of the existing bridges. For safety and efficiency reasons, it is urgent for SCDOT to complete construction as rapidly as possible and shift the detoured truck traffic back to the designated truck route. "We had heard about the Highways for LIFE program and started to think about a project that we could submit. With having to detour trucks on this project, we wanted to get them back on the road as soon as possible," says Bener Amado, SCDOT Bridge Project Engineer. "The planned innovations will speed up construction time."

To encourage the contractor to use efficient production methods and achieve the shortest possible construction time, the project contract will use a project-specific A+B+C (cost plus time plus quality) bidding provision, which will consider not only the lowest cost bid but also factor in the time needed to complete the project and the desired quality level. A special contract provision will also specify a "no excuses incentive" completion date for the project. This incentive will be paid only if the project is substantially completed by the specified date.

"Highways for LIFE really fit into what we wanted to do in terms of trying new things and incorporating innovations into the project."

Additional project innovations will include conducting a road safety audit and developing and implementing a new performance-based standard specification for pavement rideability. SCDOT is also working with a fabricator and the University of South Carolina to develop self-consolidating concrete (SCC) mixes and special provisions so that SCC can be used in several bridge beams on the project. "This will be the first time we have used SCC in South Carolina," says Amado. SCC does not require vibration to achieve full consolidation, cutting down on the labor needed and speeding up construction. An SCC mix has a high degree of workability and remains stable both during and after placement. Overall concrete quality can also be improved, as problems associated with vibration, such as under vibration, over vibration, or damage to the air void structure, are eliminated.

SCDOT has held a Public Information Meeting on the project and is now addressing public comments. A special contract provision will require the contractor to provide timely notification to local media of project activities that will be disruptive to traffic, as well as project milestones.

HfL is accepting applications until January 30, 2007, for fiscal year (FY) 2007 construction projects. An updated application form for FY 2007 is available on the HfL Web site at and at (click on "Find Grant Opportunities" and then search for "Highways for LIFE"). State departments of transportation should coordinate with their FHWA division office to submit an application. For more information, contact your local FHWA division office. For additional information about HfL, contact Mary Huie at FHWA, 202-366-3039 (email:, or visit

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Updated: 02/20/2015

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