AGL Constructors – 35Express Project

AGL ConstructorsAGL Constructors is growing 30 miles of Interstate 35E in Texas.

By Alan Dorich

Sometimes the best way to approach a massive project is with partners. Archer Western Contractors, Granite Construction Inc. and The Lane Construction Corp. have joined together as AGL Constructors to build the Interstate 35E (IH-35E) Managed Lanes 35Express project in Dallas and Denton counties, Texas.

Joe Dooley, a project manager for Granite Construction, notes that the project has a budget exceeding $1 billion and consists of work on 30 miles of IH-35E. The project will span nine cities.AGL Constructors info box

“The gist of the project is we’re adding 18 miles of managed lanes,” he says, adding that AGL will rehabilitate, rebuild or expand more than 75 bridges. The project team also will complete major interchange work, including the construction of the north side of the interchange at the Sam Rayburn Tollway, grade separation of rail and frontage roads at Belt Line Road, and add connectivity to the LBJ Freeway.

AGL also will construct a new southbound bridge across Lake Lewisville, which will include bike and pedestrian lanes, and frontage roads.

The multiphase project, Dooley notes, started construction in 2013 and will be finished by mid-2017. “We’re approximately 70 percent complete,” he reports. “Some of the interchange work is further along than the roadway work.”

Granite Construction has previously worked with Archer Western and Lane Construction on other projects, Dooley notes. He adds that the cultures of the three contractors are very similar.

“Everybody thinks along the same lines, and everybody brings a little something different to the table,” he states, noting that this includes safety practices. The three companies have taken their best practices and applied them to the project.

Not Your Average Project

Dooley is proud of how AGL has managed the sheer volume of the IH-35E project. “We’ve got 1.2 million tons of asphalt and half-a-million yards of structural concrete,” he says.

Employees will ultimately spend more than 6 million man-hours on the project, which includes marine work on barges over water. “That’s not something you have on every project,” he says.

AGL used the barges to self-perform drilled shafts and structures on the water, but also had to cope with significant flooding in Texas. “We had to change the way we were building the work and had to get a 300-ton ringer crane to finish the work on Lewisville Lake,” he states.

The joint venture has worked around traffic moving in and around its sites. “Our contract requires that the south end of the job will keep three lanes of IH-35E open in each direction, and two lanes in each direction on the north end,” Dooley describes. The #safedrive 35 campaign was initiated to assist in maintaining safe travels through the corridor.

While the project team has to keep drivers safe, AGL also is responsible for maintenance. “So when there’s snow and ice, we’re sanding, salting and plowing to clear up the road,” he says.

Additionally, if light poles or guardrails are damaged, the project team is responsible for fixing those, as well. “The challenge is that all of those are unplanned events you have to react to instead of being able to plan ahead,” he admits.

Learning Experiences

Eight hundred and fifteen craft workers and multiple subcontractors are at work on the IH-35E project, which brings its own challenges of keeping people trained and safe. “The first 400 people or so that came on board knew the safety requirements and our expectations,” Dooley recalls.

But once AGL gets new employees in, it takes some time to get them acclimated and new workers undergo a 90-day orientation. They also are partnered with people who have been on the project site for a long time.

“They help them understand what the rules and the responsibilities are,” he says, noting that the joint venture has allowed the three companies to learn new practices from each other. “You get a lot of different hazard alerts from the partners. These may be incident or near misses. It’s a great way to see additional risks that may arise, without having to learn the hard way.”

Carrying On

Based in Watsonville, Calif., Granite Construction’s portfolio includes infrastructure, transportation, and power and water projects. “As one of the nation’s largest diversified infrastructure providers and construction materials producers, we strive to provide our customers with the highest standards of quality, safety and service,” the company says.

Dooley, who has been with the company for 16 years, credits the company’s success to its people. “That’s the key,” he says, noting that its staff helps attract other good people to the company. “They want to work for people, not necessarily the company name that’s on the shirt. Granite has a lot of great people working for them.”

The Texas market will keep Granite Construction busy, he predicts. “There’s plenty of work to chase, but there is also a lot of competition,” he says. “A lot of companies recognize the strength of the market.”

He also anticipates that Granite Construction will continue working with Archer Western and Lane Construction, since the same joint venture is pursuing other projects together. “It’s been a pretty successful group and it looks like we’re going to carry it on,” he says.

Strong Partners

Based in Cheshire, Conn., The Lane Construction Corp. says it is one of America’s leading heavy civil construction companies. “We specialize in highways, bridges, mass transit and airport systems, as well as the power and energy sector,” it states.

The company adds that it is the largest private producer of hot mix asphalt in the United States. “We provide full-service construction management and self-perform a majority of the work, in addition to selling plant and aggregate materials directly to our clients,” the company says.

Lane adds that it has been a national leader in design/build and P3 methods of delivery over the past decade. “We are committed to partnering with agencies, investors and the public in developing win-win solutions for incredibly complex transportation initiatives,” it adds.

The Atlanta-based Archer Western Contractors has seven regional offices across the nation. The company also is a subsidiary of The Walsh Group, a general contracting, construction management and design/build company.

“[Archer Western] performs as an open shop contractor and is an expert in various building, civil and transportation sectors,” Walsh Group says. “In all of its years of construction operations, Archer Western has never failed to complete a contract.”

Bridging the Gap

Granite Construction excels at bridge construction. “Our structural experts bridge the gap between fundamentals and innovative practices,” the company says.

“Solutions include simplifying pier and pylon design to reduce construction costs, streamlining design to improve navigational clearances and design/build for future growth and prosperity,” the company says. “Our scope includes structures, drainage, drilled shafts, maintenance of traffic, shoreline protection, slope stabilization and demolition/removal.”

Granite Construction also performs bridge construction alternative delivery contracts, which require it to partner early in the design process. “Factors to consider during design include adherence to the requirements, schedule, lifespan, environmental impact, performance, maintenance, aesthetics and weather events,” the company says. 

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