Ames Construction

Building a two-mile stretch of a four-lane parkway with a flyover to replace an existing two-lane road in only 18 months can cause a lot of traffic rerouting. With that in mind, Ames Construction Inc. of Burnsville, Minn., is employing several techniques to provide community outreach while working on the Milton E. Parkway in Colorado Springs, Colo. “We have our own public information manager on-site,” Project Manager Paul Gallagher points out. 

Ames Construction does community outreach on all its projects, but the company is putting extra effort into this project because the company hopes to be invited back for additional work. “One of their big evaluations was how well we could perform relations with the community, emergency service businesses in the area and homeowners or residents,” Gallagher notes about the Pikes Peak Rural Trans­portation Authority (PPRTA), a construction financing arm of the city that obtained funds for building the Milton E. Proby Parkway.

Citizens voted to increase the local sales tax to pay for the parkway, so maintaining citizen satisfaction with community outreach efforts is important. “When the vote comes up, we’d like to have people pleased with the project that we are coordinating with them,” Gallagher declares. “So we’ve had different meetings with neighborhoods, and we try to accommodate the traffic here and pedestrian traffic. We try to explain to them – and all our e-blasts go out to the news media, as well – what we’re doing and when we’re doing it. We care very much as to how our construction affects them.”

Other outreach efforts are a helpful website – – with a simulated flyover of the finished project, newsletters, e-blast updates and notifications of impacts on the public and community. 

“On the website and the email list, you can blast out to people who have signed up,” Gallagher notes. “We’re going to have a barbecue for the community coming up. We are anticipating over 200 attendees, and we are trying to let them know what is going on. We have a hot line for issues. We call them back and try to address the issues properly.” 

Ames Construction also is coordinating with the Colorado Springs Airport. “They don’t like to be impacted too much, which we really haven’t,” Gallagher notes. 

“There’s a lot of different items for evaluations of award of the project by PPRTA – all of our statements and write-ups on how we’re going to perform the work and schedules and plans. So when we were awarded the contract, it was subsequent to a lot of writing and qualifications and oral interviews.”

The section of road on which Ames Con­struction is working is part of the Milton E. Proby Parkway and runs between Academy Boulevard on the west and Powers Boulevard at the Colorado Springs Airport on the east. It starts 1.5 miles east of I-25 and 3.3 miles east of Route 115. Part of a $208 million project, additional phases eventually will link I-25 with the Colorado Springs Airport, but the funding is not yet available for that next portion. “It is known that to attract businesses, one of the evaluations is how your access is from an airport to an interstate, and Drennan Road, prior to this project, was not a very efficient nor attractive road,” Gallagher declares about the route being replaced.

Proby Parkway

The Milton E. Proby Parkway will route eastbound traffic to the airport parallel to, but away from the former route, Drennan Road. “Drennan Road is two lanes with a middle turning lane,” Gallagher explains. “It’s been in existence for a while and is not built to carry the traffic that it needs to. It will remain two lanes. We are going to rebuild Drennan Road to include some utility relocation and roundabouts along the way. It will be in the same spot, but it will be a neighborhood access road, because we are closing the west end of it as the road approaches Academy Boulevard. So it will not be a through road to the main thoroughfare, which is Academy.”

A north-south route, the Hancock Expressway, bisects the job. That enabled Ames Construction to split the project in two and close different portions of roads east of the Hancock Expressway. The project was started in May 2010, but 3/4ths of a mile of Drennan west of the Hancock Expressway was built and opened in October 2010. Gallagher expects the majority of the two-year project to be completed by November 2011, which is ahead of the contract completion date.

“There were a myriad of utilities on this job, and one of the challenges is to work around and to work with companies to relocate a lot of utilities,” Gallagher notes. These include overhead and underground electric, and underground fiber-optic, gas and water lines. “So it’s been an interesting challenge,” he says.

 Earthwork for the project involves moving 1.3 million cubic yards of soil, paving 200,000 tons of asphalt and installing three miles of drainpipe and 187 drainage structures, such as manholes, inlets and outfall and intake structures, and box culverts, including a siphon box for the irrigation company. 

“They really like to buffer the neighborhoods from the noise of traffic, and on the west mile of the job, we excavated down to give that buffer to the neighborhood,” Gallagher explains. “Along the east mile, we are basically on the same grade as there was before. So the city installed 64,000 square feet of decorative and painted precast concrete sound wall on both sides.”

Latest Technology

The terrain on which the Milton E. Proby Parkway is being built requires creation of elevations for the flyover section and the project’s three bridges. “We’re very flat here – it’s not that hilly,” Gallagher notes. “We have to elevate or lower the roadway to accommodate the grades for sound buffering and so they can cross. When you go up to approach a bridge, you don’t have the room to make earth dirt embankments – you have to enclose them with mechanically stabilized earth [MSE] walls.”

Soil was graded to create the elevations, and approximately 8,500 cubic yards of concrete was used to construct the bridges. Patterns and rock outcroppings decorate the 26,000 square feet of MSE walls, which along with the sound walls will be stained. 

Most of the project is new asphalt 6.5 inches thick on a 6-inch aggregate base course. Certain portions of some of the streets that already are paved will be milled and overlaid with 2 inches of asphalt. Three intersections have signals. 

The latest electronic surveying and grading equipment is being used on the project. “We have our own survey crews, and they use AutoCAD for surveying and getting the job electronically, so they’re able to stake things out,” Gallagher explains. “Plus we put global positioning system equipment on our dirt-moving units, our bulldozers and our graders so we can have the job uploaded onto the computer on that equipment. That makes it a lot easier for the surveyors.”

The large flyover bridge uses post-tensioned concrete. “We don’t do it on all the jobs,” Gallagher points out. “It gives the bridge structural integrity and a longer life span. It’s basically like you’re pulling on your shoelace – you press on it, and you pull and you clamp it off – and it helps the bridge have better structural integrity. It gives it a longer life and a better bang for the buck. These days, they try to do a 75-year life design. In that design, they take into account the strength of the concrete you need to reach, plus the post-tensioning gives you a longer life span.”

The Milton E. Proby Parkway project required extensive stormwater management plans. “We have the best management practices to prevent any erosion and silt from going off our construction areas,” Gallagher maintains. “It takes quite a lot of work and money to do so, but the city has inspected it, and we have an erosion control supervisor. We’re doing constant daily maintenance. So that is one of the challenges, because we have a lot of area to handle, but we’ve been able to do it.

“We hope to be done extremely early, and we hope we’ve established a good feeling with the city and the Pikes Peak Rural Trans­portation Authority that they would invite us again,” Gallagher continues. “I’d love to have an award for a job, but my award is that we’re proud of the job and the owner is proud of the job. They pay you the money, and they’re willing to work with you again. That’s what we’re about all the time, and it’s great to get invited back. We also hope to continue our good safety record on the project.”

New Subcontractors

One of the things Gallagher says he is learning on this project is the good partnership with the city and their managers, Atkins North America. “One of the reasons I stayed doing this is because I do learn all the time,” Gallagher declares. “I’ve learned that we have a good partnership here with the managers for the city and the city itself.” At the start of the project, the principals held partnering meetings. “After a while, we decided we don’t need them,” he continues. “We partner every day – we get along very well.” 

We need a lot of good subcontractors.

Ames Construction is self-performing 60 percent of the project, Gallagher estimates. This includes the earth-moving and the concrete-formed structures and pipe work. The rest is being handled by up to 18 subcontractors. 

“We need a lot of good subcontractors,” Gallagher emphasizes. 

“We haven’t done a lot of work in Colorado Springs, so we’re trying out new suppliers and subcontractors. We try to hire a lot of local help, and a lot of subcontractors are local.” Ames Construction’s key partners include Pipe Service Inc., SEMA Precast Inc. and Ludwig Caisson Drilling Inc.

He estimates of the $27 million being spent on the project, approximately $8 million to $9 million is being spent on local companies. 

“We’re on schedule and on budget, so they’re doing OK so far,” he says of the subcontractors. “It’s a nice project, and it’s going to look beautiful.” 

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