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InRoads Creates Better Connectivity in Des Moines with Fleur Drive Reconstruction

by: Debra Wood
InRoads paved with a Roadtec 175 equipped with a Carlson EZ-IV and MOBA-MATIC II sonic grade and slope control.
InRoads paved with a Roadtec 175 equipped with a Carlson EZ-IV and MOBA-MATIC II sonic grade and slope control.
InRoads paves a section of Fleur Drive in Des Moines, Iowa.
InRoads paves a section of Fleur Drive in Des Moines, Iowa.
InRoads operates an asphalt plant by the interchange for Interstate 35 and Interstate 80.
InRoads operates an asphalt plant by the interchange for Interstate 35 and Interstate 80.
The InRoads crew (from left to right): Nedzad Grahovic; Andrew Haus; Walter Ponce; Steve Jordan Jr.; Brian Glauner; Ryan Cloonan, City of Des Moines Inspector; Brett Lewis, City of Des Moines Design Engineer/Project Manager
The InRoads crew (from left to right): Nedzad Grahovic; Andrew Haus; Walter Ponce; Steve Jordan Jr.; Brian Glauner; Ryan Cloonan, City of Des Moines Inspector; Brett Lewis, City of Des Moines Design Engineer/Project Manager
Crews used a Caterpillar 1055F with a Weiler SE10 front-mount, extendable screed.
Crews used a Caterpillar 1055F with a Weiler SE10 front-mount, extendable screed.
InRoads paved the road in tandem, staggering two asphalt pavers to eliminate a cold joint.
InRoads paved the road in tandem, staggering two asphalt pavers to eliminate a cold joint.
A major thoroughfare in Des Moines, Iowa, connecting downtown with the airport, received a rapid upgrade, with the reconstruction of southbound Fleur Drive in one construction season, with the successful project attributed to collaboration among InRoads, its subcontractors, and the city.

“InRoads put together a good team, and we were blessed with that good team and good weather for construction, very mild without a lot of rain days,” says Brett Lewis, a civil engineer and Project Manager with the City of Des Moines. “They had a plan and schedule in place. They were able to meet that schedule. … All of the contractors pushed and made the road a priority to get the work done as soon as they could.”

More than 30,000 vehicles drive on Fleur Drive daily, one of the highest traveled north-south roads in the city, according to Lewis. The city completed the $8.1 million northbound lanes in fall 2020, under a separate contract. A third contract is planned to start in 2023, reconstructing the north- and southbound lanes from McKinley Avenue to Watrous Avenue.

“It’s a major arterial and a gateway to the city,” Lewis adds. “This project will improve the pavement and pedestrian connectivity.”

Perpetual Pavement
The current $6.5 million project was designed inhouse by city engineers and included a full-depth reconstruction of the southbound lanes from G. Flagg Parkway to Watrous Drive. The contract included 159 items, including removing 8 to 10 inches of old, deteriorating concrete and asphalt pavement; replacing the subbase; paving with nearly 12,000 tons of hot-mix asphalt (HMA); replacing the median topsoil and plantings and adding drip irrigation to the median; improving the storm sewers with new intakes; and installing curbs, retaining walls and 5-foot wide sidewalks.

“It was designed as a ‘perpetual pavement,’ meaning it was designed and constructed so that over time, the asphalt would never have to be fully replaced, only periodically milled and resurfaced,” says Bill Rosener, Vice President of InRoads in Des Moines.

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InRoads milled off the old asphalt and recycled it into the new HMA. Reilly Construction of Ossian, Iowa, removed the old concrete, crushed it, and returned it as a modified subbase. Crews installed 12 inches of rock subbase to stabilize the road and paved with 10 inches of asphalt. The asphalt allowed paving against the medians and will enable the city to resurface the road in the future, Lewis says.

“If the surface needs repaving, the base will provide a good foundation for a long time to come,” Lewis adds.

Working Towards Incentives
InRoads began work on this second 1.5-mile phase in early 2021 and completed the road near Thanksgiving in November 2021, receiving significant incentives.

“The incentive to get the job done in one year was $130,000,” Rosener says. “If we were able to get it done by December first, we received an additional 30 days of incentive at $4,000 per day. That was a total of $250,000 on the table. We wanted it all.”

InRoads scheduled a pre-construction meeting in early February 2021, with all of the subcontractors in attendance, and built the schedule from beginning to end.

“By schedule, we actually had the job being completed by October 31, but the utility conflicts cost us at least a month.” Rosener says.

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The company, and its subcontractors, worked on weekends and overtime to complete the project in time to receive the full incentive. InRoads shared the incentive with the subcontractors who helped make the achievement possible. Knowing incentive money was on the table, many of the subs chose to show up for the Fleur Drive project rather than some other job, he adds.

“Giving a contractor an incentive vs. threatening with a disincentive is more attractive,” Rosener says. “It’s easier to train somebody with a carrot than a stick. I hope more cities will pay attention to this construction methodology.”

Iowa companies Reilly Construction; I-80 Concrete of Clive; Iowa Plains Signing of Slater; Iowa Signal of Grimes; Greentech of Iowa in Slater; Hardscape Solutions of Iowa in Cedar Rapids; Tyler Land Clearing of Des Moines; The American Fence Co. of Johnston; and Meston Bros. Irrigation of Johnston were key subcontractors.

The company paved the road in echelon, staggering two asphalt pavers to eliminate the cold joint. InRoads used a Caterpillar 1055F with a Weiler SE10 front-mount, extendable screed and followed it with a Roadtec 175 equipped with a Carlson EZ-IV. Both machines ran MOBA-MATIC II sonic grade and slope control.

“It’s a very impactful project,” Lewis says. “Traffic, property owners, and utilities made it challenging.”

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Relocation of underground utilities presented risks to completing the job on schedule, including the installation of a new 6-inch gas main that the local utility company MidAmerican Energy announced the week before the project commenced. The cooperation and utility knowledge that the city engineer and inspector brought to the job from the previous northbound project was invaluable, Rosener says. Several utilities were not known to have been buried on the job site.

InRoads held weekly meetings with the city and subcontractors to discuss upcoming work, barriers to completion and plans for the best approach to handle those obstacles.

“Those meetings were invaluable in finding opportunities,” Rosener says. “Even when things slowed down in one area, we could find ways to move forward.”

Project staging focused on maintaining access, especially at intersections and for residents and businesses, Lewis says.

“We established some temporary access roads, and that allowed people to get in and out of their driveways to a side road,” Lewis explains.

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Traffic was moved to the northbound lanes during construction of the southbound lanes. Fleur Drive stayed open throughout construction. To manage left-turning vehicles, the city installed a temporary protected left-turn arrow.

The sidewalk on the southbound side will be poured in 2022, as will landscaping the medians.

“For anyone who drives this road, the project has been impactful,” Lewis says. “InRoads completing the road in one construction season really minimized the impact on drivers.”

Rosener agrees the project went “extremely well” and the road rides nicely. The Fleur Drive job was completed without any work accidents. He credits teamwork with accomplishing the job on time and celebrated by throwing a party for everyone involved.

“It was a success,” Rosener says. “We had great coordination from the City of Des Moines’ engineering and inspection personnel and all of our subcontractors. I’m really proud of our Project Manager, Brad Karsten, our production managers, and all of our crews. This project touched our entire company. Everybody rose to the occasion. As our President Joe Manatt likes to say, “teamwork makes the dream work.”

A Passion for the Industry
A vertically integrated asphalt paving, milling, materials and trucking company, InRoads was founded in 2017 by Manatt, after working for his father’s and grandfather’s paving business, which started in the 1960s. He contemplated a name for the new company for about six months. When Manatt came up with “InRoads,” it said to him, “progress, and it tells what we do inside the name.”
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Rosener joined the company in 2020 to help establish its Metro Division – securing property, zoning, and permits to build a new asphalt plant by the interchange of Interstate 35 and Interstate 80.

“It’s a prime location and the 100,000 vehicles per day going by helped us get our name out,” Rosener says.

The InRoads Portable Division travels around the state and places 200,000 tons of asphalt annually.

“I have a passion for the construction, the work, and the people we work with,” Manatt says.

Its people and good equipment contribute to InRoads success.

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“Good people are hard to find, and I feel like you have to give people the tools they need to succeed through good equipment and not fighting breakdowns or inefficient machines,” says Manatt. “One guy cannot do it all.”

InRoads prides itself on integrity, quality, and giving back to the community, Rosener adds. He predicts the company will continue to grow.

“We’re excited about being in this market,” Rosener says. “Des Moines is a great place to work and raise your family. It’s a surprisingly hip place to live. The people that live and work here are genuine. We are excited about building our company in this community.”

Photos courtesy of InRoads

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