Ash Grove contributes to flood-ravaged Iowa highway reconstruction

After large-scale floods destroyed vital Iowa infrastructure in 2011, Ash Grove Cement Co.’s Louisville, Neb., plant stepped up production to meet the demand of several large-scale reconstruction projects. The company supplied cement for the reconstruction of Interstate 680 and the Keg Creek Bridge replacement on US Highway 6, east of Council Bluffs, Iowa. Both projects won recognition in the America’s Transportation Awards competition, which is sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and looks at creativity, innovation and cost efficiency.

                With the joint effort of Ash Grove and Manatts Construction Co., the I-680 project rapidly reconstructed a heavily traveled three-mile stretch connecting Omaha and nearby Iowa communities and won the Ahead of Schedule award. The Iowa Department of Transportation initially estimated the project to be completed in November 2012 or later. However, in less than two months, all lanes were completely reconstructed, and the highway was reopened on Nov. 2, 2011, nearly two months ahead of the Dec. 23, 2011, deadline. “It only took 34 days to rebuild,” said Barry Cleaveland of Council Bluffs, a member of the Iowa Transportation Commission.

                Ash Grove Sales Manager Ernie Peterson described the employees’ efforts to provide product for the I-680 project “like nothing I’ve ever seen.” What began as an order for 10,000 tons in three months became 12,000 tons in six weeks and then 11,000 tons in 11 days, according to Peterson. “The flood damage came so unexpectedly and the reconstruction moved so quickly that we were running out of cement,” he added.

                The completed project required 94,500 square yards of 11-in.-thick paving and 96,500 square yards of 7-in.-thick concrete shoulders. Ash Grove’s Omaha-based subsidiary Lyman-Richey supplied concrete for the Keg Creek Bridge replacement, which earned an award in the Best Use of Innovation category. For the project, workers built the new bridge deck off to the side of the roadway while the old deck was taken out. Then, a crane lifted the new deck in place. “It was only closed eight days to traffic,” Cleaveland said. “That’s a record time.”

                “The project was so successful that information gathered during the design and construction of the Keg Creek Bridge project is being shared with the broader transportation community to accelerate changes that will ultimately improve the safety and performance of our highways, and reduce the impact of construction and maintenance on highway uses,” AASHTO said.

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