With earth, structural and drainage work nearing completion, the Grand Parkway State Highway 99 (SH 99) Paving team is gearing up for its busiest months. In all they will pave 166 lane miles – the distance between Houston and Austin.
Paving the 38-mile SH 99 Segments F and G is the final phase for the team, which has provided all of the concrete for the project, including bridges, drainage and curbs.
To match the huge job, SH 99 Paving is a huge 24/7 operation with about 425 employees, five concrete plants, four concrete base manufacturing plants (pugmills) and a fleet of concrete trucks and paving equipment.
Paving Manager Mark Fisher explained that the huge project needs to operate its own production plants because no local vendor could keep up with the demand. Raw materials from as far away as the Yucatan are being stockpiled as the team gears up for its busiest paving months.
“We manufacture, transport and place the materials. We did some paving last year but really began hitting our stride in May and are gearing up for our busiest time, when we’ll average 20,000 cubic yards of concrete a week,” Fisher said.
The cement-treated road base is manufactured from rock or recycled concrete at four pugmills. Four wet-batch concrete plants make wet concrete, and a dry-mix plant makes the ingredients that are mixed with water in concrete trucks.
Concrete trucks transport the concrete to the work site where specialized paving equipment places and smooths the concrete, using a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to set the exact elevation.
Fisher and his team understand the challenges ahead. “We’re all veterans of large projects and are ready to take on this massive project with its aggressive schedule. We’ve got superintendents with decades of experience, a group of young, bright, hard-working engineers, and a dedicated workforce. We have a really great team that is eager to get it done.”
What does it take to build SH 99?
- 1 million tons of base materials (almost 3 times heavier than the Empire State building)
- 1.9 million square yards of paving concrete (enough to pave more than 2 Galleria Malls)
- 387,000 cubic yards of structural concrete (enough to build 2 NRG Stadiums)
- 108,000 concrete truck trips