Highway 101 paving job calls for precast concrete panels

SOLEDAD – The Highway 101 paving project in southern Monterey County tested the Construction Division in a way it hadn’t been tested before.

At first glance, the $24 million Caltrans job, won by estimator Bob Williams, seems like your typical large highway rehabilitation project with 90,000 tons of rubberized asphalt and (eventually) 25,000tons of dig outs spanning 17 miles in each direction between Greenfield and Gonzales.

But this was no typical job.

On this major highway project, Caltrans wanted to try a newly designed approach, callingfor more than 600 precast concrete panels thatcoveredabout a mile and a half. That wassomething Graniterock had never done.

Caltrans believes the precast panels could provide four times the lifespan of conventional pour-in-place concrete panels, and is using the Highway 101 job as a case study. Pour-in-place panels usually last about 10 years.

“One of the biggest challenges we had was figuring out how to install the panels on a two-lane highway,” Project Manager Martin Canning said. “The panels have to be placed with such precision, and our space is so tight out here.”

The Construction team extensively planned and tested the installation process before attempting to place the panels on the highway.

The project management team, including Gary Hartranft and Doug Shirk, performed a mock-up with three precast panels in a nearby farmer’s field to simulate every step of the process.

“We did a mock-up of the whole motion so we could learn what needed to happen out on the highway,” Doug said. “That really helped us work out any kinks and we were able to be more successful because of the mock-up. We didn’t want to go out on our first night and not know what we were doing.”

The panels, manufactured by Oldcastle in Stockton and trucked to the job site, are 12 feet by 11 feet and weigh 13,500 pounds each.

Space limitations on Highway 101 prevented a crane from placing the panels, which is how they’re usually installed.

Instead, Graniterock used an excavator to carefully lower each one.

This project, which started in February, is expected to wrap up thisDecember.

Congratulations andthanks goes to everyone who has helped this project be successful.

Martin, Doug, Gary, Brian Ashford, George Jeffery, Josh Congdon, Gerrod Dewey, Robert Lauderdale, Travis Riggs, Jose Mascorro, Frankie Judd, Chris Perez, Jason Bauer, Justin Madrid, Jason Lauderdale, Oliver Ahn and many more.