Asphalt plant to increase efficiency, safety during Fortify project
Posted February 19
Raleigh, N.C. — A sprawling plant that will supply work crews with asphalt throughout the duration of the Fortify road project will be functional by the end of February, Granite Construction Inc. officials said Wednesday.
Located in the median near the split between Interstates 40 and 440, the plant will supply up to 350 tons of asphalt per hour during the three-year rebuild project, Michael Derksen, Granite's project executive, said.
Lane closures associated with the Fortify project – an entire rebuild of an 11.5-mile stretch of Interstates 40 and 440 between U.S. Highway 1 in Cary to U.S. Highway 64/264 in Raleigh – have been in place for several weeks along I-440 West east of downtown Raleigh, but weather has repeatedly delayed crews from completing closures in eastbound lanes.
As temperatures heat up during the spring, however, the pace of work will likely pick up. Once lane closures are in place on I-440 East, the project will begin in earnest.
The plant will be a key piece to the success – and efficiency – of Granite's work, Derksen said.
"There are several reasons for the location of the plant," he said. "We're able to pave a significant portion of the project without having trucks in the travel lanes. They can work on the inside, and they won't have to be out in traffic. They won't impede the public."
Derksen said the plant will also save Granite money because dump trucks won't have to travel from an off-site asphalt plant. The company will need fewer dump trucks, and the location of the plant will allow crews to work during the day and night.
"It also helps with the efficiency of the paving, because the asphalt won't cool off as quickly as if it was trucked in from outside," he said. "We like to have it at a certain temperature, and the closer it is to the paving crews, the better."
By the time crews complete the Fortify project in 2016, the plant will have produced "2 inches of asphalt 12 feet wide from Raleigh to Houston," Derksen joked Wednesday.
The giant structure is clearly visible from I-440 East, as two silos tower over the plant. They each hold up to 300 tons of asphalt, and they are centered over truck scales that allow crews to track how much asphalt is going out each day.
The silos are filled by a conveyor system, and several bins of aggregate materials – sand, recycled pavement and more – will make up the new pavement that will be put down on I-40 and I-440.
Once the project is over, crews will remove all of the heavy equipment and re-forest the land near the split, Derksen said.
Granite crews are continuing work on several sections of the project, including a temporary bridge that will allow trucks to access the asphalt plant from I-40.