March 9, 2023 | Articles
From Drawing to Building: Laura Capraro’s Career in Construction
The $90 million, 2.5-year (March, 2017 – October, 2019) PA Turnpike Roadway and Bridge Reconstruction project, from Milepost 39.62 to Milepost 44.04, was located in Allegheny County, approximately 15 miles north of Pittsburgh. The existing road was comprised of two 12-foot-wide lanes in each direction with 10-foot shoulders and medians. This project transformed the old roadway to three 12-foot lanes in each direction with a 12-foot shoulder and a 26-foot median. Also included in this project were ten culvert extensions, one match cast sound barrier wall, one at-grade single-span reinforced concrete T-beam mainline bridge extension, and two retaining wall value engineering (VE) proposals from Trumbull.
One VE proposal was for the elimination of a 750 linear feet (LF) Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Retaining Wall with alternate construction of a steepened slope embankment. The second VE proposal was for the replacement of a 1,600 LF T-wall, with a first-of-its-kind, permanent sheet pile wall, designed by Earth Inc. In 2019, the project won the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania Project of the Year award for innovation, largely due to the retaining wall value engineering proposals, particularly the permanent sheet pile wall.
During a preceding Roadway and Bridge Reconstruction project from Milepost 43.56 to Milepost 44.07, a partnering session was held with Hill International, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (owner), and Trumbull Corporation (prime contractor) to help ensure that all parties involved understood and worked towards the same goal: a high-quality product delivered on time and on budget. Through each of the contracts, Hill and Trumbull held weekly coordination meetings with field staff, monthly progress meetings with the full project team, and specialized “pre-activity meetings” with key personnel before beginning any new operations. Through these efforts, the construction team met its goals.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) liked the “pre-activity meetings” developed by Hill and Trumbull used these as a blueprint for writing the “Pre-Operation Meetings” section of their Construction Operations Manual (COM). These meetings are now a standard for every project. The Pre-Operation Meetings section can be found in Part C, Section 100-2, and Pages 1 through 3 of the COM.
The process consists of 6 steps:
The purpose of a pre-operation meeting is to allow the contractor’s foreman and the inspection staff to discuss all essential and specific matters pertaining to a construction operation before the operation begins. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District Turnpike Coordinator will be invited to a particular pre-operation meeting if coordination is required, as defined in COM Section B1-3. The Construction Engineer Manager (CEM), PTC Project Manager, and/or Inspector-In-Charge will be responsible for the administration of pre-operation meetings, as deemed appropriate by the CEM. These meetings are now a standard for every PA Turnpike project.
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