Dry, mild weather in the Toledo area Wednesday was just perfect for pouring concrete, and at the site of U.S. 24's northerly Waterville interchange, there was plenty of concrete to be poured.
About 825 cubic yards, actually, for part of the deck of a viaduct that eventually will carry the new expressway over its westbound exit to Waterville and parallel Norfolk Southern railroad track.
"It's been the best weather we've had since we started, except for last November," Stan Miller, the project manager for Beaver Excavating, said Wednesday of the sunshine that had graced the project since Labor Day. Only on Saturday has significant rain fallen in Toledo since then.
That's helping keep construction of the new U.S. 24's easternmost 6.5 miles, now officially 38 percent complete, on schedule for a summer of 2012 opening.
And Theresa Pollick, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman in Bowling Green, said construction changes recommended by Beaver Excavating and Mosser Construction, the project's two joint-venture contractors, trimmed its price tag from $64.37 million to $62.95 million - at least for now.
The middle 9.9 miles, between Hertzfeld Road in Providence Township and Henry County Road 4A in Liberty Township, is just a bit closer to completion, but also has increased in cost by about $2.6 million, to $58.49 million, because of unexpectedly extensive soil replacement, Ms. Pollick said.
"The soil is wet and does not allow for proper compaction," Ms. Pollick said. "On this project, even during dry periods, the soil contained excessive moisture."
The westernmost 5.1 miles of the Napoleon-Waterville project, west of Road 4A, is 77 percent finished and just $460,000 more than its $47.92 million bid, according to ODOT.
The portion started a year earlier than the other two sections, but all are scheduled to open simultaneously.
Miller Brothers Construction of Archbold is building the westerly 15 miles.
While extensive earthwork and bridge construction is under way throughout the three contracts, the viaduct north of Waterville is a major structure and very prominent to travelers on the existing U.S. 24. It accounts for about $5 million of the Beaver-Mosser contract.
The viaduct will provide 23 feet, 2 inches of clearance over the railroad track and will be about the same height over the new ramp. The exit ramp will be built during the next few months and will serve as a temporary roadway for all U.S. 24 traffic for most of the rest of construction.
While traffic is using the ramp, the rest of the viaduct and its approaches will be built, as will be the future entrance ramp from old U.S. 24, on new fill east to the existing roadway, said Dan Meyer, the ODOT project engineer.
The viaduct will have about 6,000 cubic yards of concrete, along with earthen fill, when finished, Mr. Meyer said.
Parts of its approaches will use "mechanically stabilized earth" retaining walls that will allow the project to fit in a tighter space than would be possible with traditional embankments that require a 2-1 slope, Ms. Pollick said. The spans over the ramp and railroad are using slab construction, rather than pillars and beams, because of the structure's sharp angle, she said. The viaduct looks huge now, Mr. Meyer said, but will seem less massive once its approaches are built.
He noted that the portion now under construction was scheduled to be done last, but the contractors recommended a change of sequence so the viaduct could be used as part of a haul road to bring fill dirt into the rest of the construction site, instead of using local roads for that purpose.
That recommendation, Mr. Miller said, will eliminate the hauling of about 380,000 cubic yards of dirt on those roads and thus divert a lot of truck traffic and prevent related pavement wear.
With a deck 2 feet, 8 inches thick, he said, the viaduct "will handle anything you want to put over it."
The project includes rebuilding the nearby U.S. 24 bridges over Stitt Road. The westbound bridge has been finished, but traffic won't be rerouted onto it until the roadway between there and Waterville is ready for traffic.
A nearby bridge rehabilitation project on U.S. 24, unrelated to the expressway construction, is nearly complete.
Two closed ramps at the U.S. 24 interchange with I-475/U.S. 23 reopened early Tuesday afternoon following the end of full-time work on the $2.35 million makeover, and round-the-clock lane closings have concluded too.
Ms. Pollick said some day-to-day lane closings on U.S. 24 and nighttime closings on I-475 remain possible for the next two months while finishing touches are put on the project.
Contact David Patch at: