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North Carolina DOT Aids Interconnectivity With Macy Grove Road Improvements

by: Larry Bernstein
Crews on the Macy Grove Road Improvements project fought weather and soil challenges to save the schedule.
Crews on the Macy Grove Road Improvements project fought weather and soil challenges to save the schedule.
Keep the traffic moving. That’s the goal that the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has for the Macy Grove Road Improvements project. The project is taking place in and around the town of Kernersville (population of approximately 25,000), which is in the north central part of the state and just a few miles from Winston-Salem.

The project was split into two phases. “The goal is to help provide interconnectivity from North Carolina 150 to Business 40 or Salem Parkway and to alleviate traffic in the downtown area of Kernersville,” said Jordan Scott, Resident Engineer for NCDOT.

Currently the average daily traffic in the area is 7,400 and it is projected to grow by about 40 percent or 10,300 by 2038.

Commuters regularly experience back-ups during morning and afternoon rush hour as they try to get to I-40.  Scott said this is because the commute requires drivers getting to I-40 by going through town on a slow, low speed route. “Our goal is to provide a more direct route to the interstate area.”

For the second phase of the project, NCDOT is adding 1.7 miles of completely new road on Macy Grove. With the addition, Macy Grove will connect to N.C. 150.

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In addition to extending Macy Grove, the crew is installing three new signals, a bridge structure, a double barrel culvert, and improving an intersection.

Wet Weather Challenges
Scott described 2018 as an abnormal weather year for North Carolina. The area where the project is located had its highest rainfall in years. Beyond the challenges of doing construction in bad weather, the rain impacts the soil. The micaceous soil in the area is naturally difficult and viewed as a poor soil to build on.

Because of the poor soil, NCDOT used a 10-inch soil cement stabilization depth rather than the typical 7-inch depth. This was necessary to provide the required stabilization of the road.

The project required the crew to move 181,000 cubic yards of dirt. In order to move this massive amount, the contractor utilized multiple off-road dump trucks and excavators.

Acquiring right of way has also been a challenge on the project. One property, which is owned by a business, proved particularly cumbersome. In the end NCDOT, did not buy out the business. “We added an additional public sewer to the project to cure the property’s taking rather than buying out the business,” said Scott.

While the right of way issue was dragging on and the bridge was being constructed, the contractor was eager to continue working. “The contractor installed a temporary stream crossing, adjacent to the bridge under construction, to improve access to others portions of the project,” said Scott. “This allowed the crew to use off-road equipment to move the bulk of the earthwork.”

Borrowed Time
Phase two of the project began in July 2018. The original contract allowed for 913 days with the completion date in January 2021. However, the extremely poor weather led NCDOT to issue a statewide memo, which allowed additional review of contract times.
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With unanticipated ROW issues and weather delays, it was determined that the contractor for the project would have 1,184 days to complete the project, pushing the completion date to October 2021.

Even with the weather issues, Scott said, “The contractor has done well, and we still anticipate a January 2021 completion.”

According to Scott, there are a few ways the contractor was able to make up for last time. First off, many resources were made available for the project. He also credits the frequent team meetings that allow the team to go over any issues that could have potentially arisen and work through them. The team was also able to schedule work and relocate based on what part of the project was accessible.

“Working on both sides of the creek concurrently also helped the contractor make up some time,” said Scott.

The contract for the project was $12.8 million and is state funded. However, Scott said the project has gone a bit over budget.

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Two expenses have raised the price of the project: additional ROW costs and the additional soil stabilization depth. While installing the sewer line was less expensive than purchasing the property, it did increase contract costs. Scott notes that between the right of way and the depth stabilization tools, the additional costs were approximately $1.1 million.

Soon, commuters in Kernersville will be able to easily enter the interstate. They’ll enjoy quicker travel times from N.C. 150 to Salem Parkway and less congestion. Better connectivity keeps traffic moving.

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