Alexander Lumber | Champaign, IL

Intersection closures that benefit taxpayers

Warren Mohar, PE | with 0 Comments

Intersection closures that benefit taxpayers

It appears that 2015 will be marked as the most-traveled year in history, when measured in road miles. If estimates are correct, motorists traveled three trillion miles on US highways. With motorists racking up all those miles, road construction will surely follow. Road construction costs are a burden each of us bear as taxpayers, but there are certain staging techniques that can lessen that burden.

According to the US Department of Transportation, full-road closures during construction projects save states and their taxpayers millions of dollars per project. By closing an entire 15-mile project, the South Carolina DOT (SCDOT) completed a three-year project in only eight months, resulting in a cost savings of more than $34 million.

Saving taxpayers money and creating a better intersection is what prompted City of Baraboo officials to close the South Boulevard and Highway 123 intersection while they paved a roundabout.

On a slightly smaller scale, the City of Baraboo tested this method on a recent intersection project. City officials’ motives were two-fold – they wanted to save taxpayers’ money, and they also wanted to construct a strong, long-lasting intersection. Normally, paving operations are completed in phases to accommodate traffic flow. In this case, the paving contractor, DL Gasser Construction of Baraboo, Wisconsin, used multiple pavers to keep the paving train and compaction operations continually paving against a hot joint. The process allows for a better overall fit to the joining lanes and the curb and gutter. This process could only be completed by closing the intersection.

Any time roadway maintenance is performed there are the hard costs of labor and materials, plus the intangible cost of the inconvenience to residents. If maintenance can be delayed, even by a few years, everyone wins. Closing the intersection for the roundabout paving in Baraboo allowed for the construction of what the City expects to be a higher quality intersection, which will delay the need for routine maintenance projects in the future.
Full closure of intersections and roads during construction is not always feasible. There are benefits, though, so it is worth investigating the feasibility for your next construction project. 

Warren Mohar has over 35 years of experience in management of highway and bridge construction projects including traffic staging and WisDOT specifications. Contact us for more information on transportation infrastructure.

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