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Michigan roadwork see increased risks, costs in the winter



Road construction in snow

By SHAWN D. LEWISThe Detroit News

DETROIT — The pushing of Michigan’s roadwork into the colder months comes with great costs and risks for two of the area’s biggest projects.

Work laying concrete has continued on Interstate 696 in Macomb County and Interstate 75 in Wayne County despite temperatures below or at 40 degrees, which, according to the American Concrete Institute, is the temperature for which measures to prevent freezing must be addressed.

Costly precautions must be in place, including protecting fresh concrete from freezing by placing heaters along a route to ensure the concrete will take.

“Nobody wants to build roads in the winter,” said Kevin MacDonald, a principal engineer with Minnesota-based Beton Consulting Engineers.

In other words, he said, for every dollar spent on a road project conducted in July, it will cost between $1.30 and $1.50 in the winter.

MacDonald said the cost for heating and enclosing concrete pavement is approximately 30 to 50 percent of the cost of the material and labor, “depending on a number of factors.”

“Modern highway construction in cold, wet climates requires highly durable, as well as high-strength concrete,” he told The Detroit News . “This can be achieved in cold weather, so long as precautions are taken to ensure that the concrete has adequate strength.”

But MacDonald noted taxpayers usually are not footing the bill for the higher costs.

“Typically, these types of costs fall into means and methods over the contractor,” he said. “As such, the contractor will bear the cost.”

A Michigan contractor working on one of the major road projects said his employees are using necessary precautions, and they are being closely monitored by the Michigan Department of Transportation to minimize the risk.

Joe Goodall, vice president of Dan’s Excavating Inc. in Shelby Township, which is working on the I-75 project, said yes, contractors are working to prevent the ground from freezing.

Goodall said workers are “covering the concrete when temperatures look to be dropping below freezing overnight or throughout the following days. The specifications for cold weather protection are being met on the project.”

They also running heaters on the ground to keep it from freezing, he said.

“We are keeping the concrete within the specifications for cold weather paving by any means needed,” Goodall said.

The construction work is happening later in the season because the projects were delayed in September when the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association instituted a work stoppage after multiple failed attempts to bargain a new contract with the Operating Engineers Local 324. A prior, five-year deal expired in June.

The construction rift prompted the shutdown or partial halt of 89 Michigan Department of Transportation projects and 75 local projects.

“We are bound by contract with MDOT to complete the project in a time frame, with the lockout and inclement weather after the lockout, we are continuing to complete the project in a timely manner.”

MDOT spokesman Jeff Cranson said state inspectors perform quality assurance on all contractor efforts throughout a project.

“So among other things, the inspectors will ensure the heating and housing is correct,” he said. “Ultimately, the contractor is responsible for the work completed, and a job is not accepted until MDOT engineers are confident in the quality.”

And so far, Operating Engineers 324 spokesman Dan McKernan said he has not heard any complaints from contractors about corners being cut to get the jobs done.

“Certainly, there is frustration from the workers for having to work through the winter when it didn’t have to be this way,” McKernan said. “But I talked to the agent who oversees the road workers, and there haven’t been any complaints. At the end of the day, MDOT oversees everything, and they are very strict.”

The American Concrete Institute recommends specific measures in its “Guide to Cold Weather Concreting,” noting that “the necessary degree of protection increases as the ambient temperature decreases.”

Cold weather concreting “results in extra costs because of potentially lower worker productivity and additional needed products such as insulating blankets, tarping and heaters.” But it adds that these measures also most likely will allow a project to stay on schedule.

Detroit averages highs of 36.1 degrees and lows of 24.1 degrees in December, according to date from the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

Daniel DeGraaf, executive director of the Michigan Concrete Association, said placing heaters is a major element of keeping the ground warm. A hydronic heater is used to heat frozen ground or concrete surfaces by pumping heated fluid through closed-circulation tubing and a heat exchanger.

“The ground cannot be frozen when building a road on top of it,” he said. “It can be very expensive.”

He presented an analogy.

“Imagine running a furnace with the doors and windows wide open,” he said. “Not only do they have to heat the ground, but you can’t go as far with the work as you can on a fall day because you’re limited by how far the equipment can stretch.”

Meanwhile, Cranson said state inspectors will hold contractors accountable for the quality of the concrete.

“All materials must meet specifications,” Cranson said. “Inspection to ensure specification compliance; and enforcement based on significant research and testing.”

But Cranson acknowledged risks when concrete is worked on in the winter.

He released details that noted: “The top couple inches (estimated) of the concrete below the exposed surface could potentially act as a sacrificial layer, protecting the inner concrete mass from frost-related structural damage. But, if not protected from the cold weather exposure, this top exposed surface could undergo irreversible damage as it freezes. Over time, this damaged concrete surface will erode and scale away, ultimately resulting in loss of the pavement surface.”

Additionally, the details noted, “Placing concrete pavement on a frozen base could result in significant loss in structural support as the base begins to thaw in the spring. As the base freezes, the moisture within it will expand, thus, causing the base to heave up (water expands approximately nine percent in volume as it freezes). When the base thaws, it returns to its original elevation. This will, in turn, take the pavement downward with it. “

Cranson summed up the lengths being taken to ensure quality work on roads during the winter by saying: “Contractors and the MDOT engineers overseeing their work continue to work very hard to ensure a commitment to quality while they also work as quickly as possible to make travel lanes accessible to the public.

“It is a difficult balancing act in ideal conditions, let alone in inclement weather. Please keep in mind that the people fixing and building our roads are our sisters, brothers, friends and neighbors.”

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The Nation

Big rig causes 100-year-old bridge to collapse in North Dakota



This undated photo provided by Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department shows the overweight semi that caused the collapse of a small, historic bridge near Northwood, N.D. Authorities say the semi, with a trailer load of dry beans, was traveling on the 56-foot-long, restricted-weight bridge over the Goose River Monday. (Grand Forks County Sheriff's Department via AP)

NORTHWOOD, N.D. — Sheriff’s officials say an overweight semitrailer loaded with dried beans caused a more-than-century-old bridge to collapse in North Dakota.

Grand Forks County sheriff’s officials say the bridge over the Goose River near Northwood collapsed Monday afternoon. Photos show the wooden and iron span buckling under the weight of the vehicle. The bridge is partly submerged in the water.

Police said a 2005 Peterbilt semi-truck was driving on the bridge when the structure reportedly crumpled beneath it, causing the trailer to hangover the west abutment.

The 56-foot-long bridge was built in 1906 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It has a 14 ton weight restriction. Sheriff’s officials say the semitrailer was 29 tons over that limit.

The driver, who was not injured, faces an $11,400 overload fine.

Officials say it will cost up to $1 million to replace the bridge.

It was not immediately clear if weight-limit signs were posted, and police said the incident was still under investigation

Northwood is about 200 miles northeast of Bismarck.



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Women In Trucking names its 2019 top woman-owned businesses



Angela Eliacostas is the founder and owner of AGT Global Logistics, one of the companies the Women In Trucking Association has named its 2019 Top Women-Owned Businesses in Transportation. (Courtesy: Women in Trucking)

PLOVER, Wisc. —  The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has announced its annual list of the “Top Woman-Owned Businesses in Transportation.”

The names of the companies being recognized in 2019 were released in the latest edition of Redefining the Road, the official magazine of WIT.

WIT created the list was created to recognize women in leadership and encourage more women to become proactive leaders in their organizations and even start their own businesses, WIT president and CEO Ellen Voie said. The program supports WIT’s overall mission “To encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize the obstacles they face.”

Entrepreneurship is a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations, according to Brian Everett, publisher of Redefining the Road.

Companies considered for the recognition must meet criteria that includes majority ownership by a woman, financial stability and growth, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Each company was nominated and chosen based upon business success and accomplishments, including those related to gender diversity.

This year’s list includes companies from a diverse range of business sectors in the commercial freight transportation marketplace, including motor carriers, third-party logistics companies and original equipment manufacturers.

Companies named to the 2019 “Top Woman-Owned Businesses” list and their primary female business owners are:

  • Bennett International Group; Marcia G. Taylor, CEO
  • Kenco Logistics; Jane Kennedy Greene, chairwoman
  • London Auto Truck Center; Donna Childers, vice president
  • Rihm Family Companies; Kari Rihm, president and CEO
  • Veriha Trucking, Inc.; Karen Smerchek, president
  • Rush Trucking Corp.; Andra Rush, CEO
  • Aria Logistics; Arelis Gutierrez, CEO
  • Lodgewood Enterprises; Arlene Gagne, president
  • S-2international, LLC; Jennifer Mead, CEO
  • International Express Trucking; Karen Duff, president and CEO
  • Brenny Transportation, Inc.; Joyce Brenny, CEO and founder
  • Knichel Logistics; Kristy Knichel, CEO
  • Garner Trucking; Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, CEO
  • LYNC Logistics; Cindy Lee, president
  • Ontario Truck Training Academy; Yvette Lagrois, president
  • AGT Global Logistics; Angela Eliacostas, owner and founder
  • Powersource Transportation; (Barb Bakos, president
  • LaunchIt Public Relations; Susan Fall, president
  • United Federal Logistics, Inc.; Jennifer Behnke, president
  • BCP Transportation; Nancy Spelsberg, Ardis Jourdan, Kristie Rozinski
  • Ladybird Logistics Ltd.; Felicia Payin Marfo, managing director
  • DGT Trucking; Donna G. Sleasman, owner
  • RFX Inc.; Kimberly Welby, president and CEO)

These companies will be recognized during a special program at the Women In Trucking Accelerate! Conference & Expo, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas. For more information, visit

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The Nation

Can you say oversized load!



That is big!


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