PERSEVERING UNDER PRESSURE
In March 2019, Kinsley was selected as the low bidder for the $31 million new Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) at SR 851 and I-83 Exit 4, in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania. This project included replacing the I-83 bridge over SR 851 with a two-span bridge that realigns four lanes of traffic from I-83 into the DDI configuration on SR 851. It also lengthened, widened and reconfigured the ramps, replaced the culvert carrying Deer Creek beneath I-83, and modified/added traffic signals, drainage, signage, sidewalks, stormwater management systems, highway lighting and landscaping.
As the first exit interchange from Maryland into Pennsylvania, the project was highly visible, congested and under major scrutiny. It occurred simultaneously with another highly criticized project on I-83, and as a result, our team was under significant pressure from PennDOT, from the community and even from themselves, to complete the project on schedule and within budget. The crews worked tirelessly to minimize disruption and maximize safety.
All road projects are inconvenient, but the team was determined to make this one different and they did. With help from a local resident, who posted weekly updates and photos, the Southern York County community rallied behind us.
I’ve had more compliments on this job than any other. Locals, both township authorities and residents, often stopped to thank us and tell us what a great job we were doing.Vern McFadden, Project Superintendent
From the outside looking in, this project was textbook perfect. More than 250 Kinsley employees worked day and night, and it showed. While progress was easy to see, the behind-the-scenes effort the team put into it wasn’t. For instance, they had to figure out how to install a 14-foot wide, 400-foot-long box culvert that ran beneath I-83 and the on- and off-ramps. Reaching depths of 47 feet, the crew also had to maintain the stability of the I-83 bridge and ramps to ensure traffic flowed unimpeded. As such, the culvert was installed in phases:
A COMPLICATED CULVERT
Because crews were excavating several stories deep, they had to install extensive shoring every time they began a new section of the box culvert. They also had to perform major traffic shifts before starting each new section because of the congested traffic traveling on I-83, the on- and off-ramps, and SR 851.
Most challenging, however, was the installation of the median section of the box culvert. Working in a 65-foot-wide area, crews had to excavate an 18-foot-wide tunnel with I-83 hovering above them to the east and west, and SR 851 directly south of them. In this small area, four crews and their associated equipment worked simultaneously: excavators dug while welders worked on the shoring, concrete crews formed the culvert, and structure crews installed the new bridge pier and abutment. When asked about the danger, Vern said, “It’s a balancing act. You have to be aware of your surroundings enough to stay safe, but you can’t focus on the worst-case scenario. It will drive you nuts.”
AND THE HITS KEEP ON COMING
The box culvert wasn’t the only major challenge. New storm sewer, installed in the center of SR 851, required excavating 15 feet through solid rock while dealing with unforeseen existing sewer pipe and utility lines. There was also a tractor trailer crash on I-83 that took out 400 feet of guiderail and damaged the bridge parapet. Thankfully no one was hurt, but it definitely added to the crews’ already taxed workload. Every other week, crews had to perform emergency work to repair crash cushions that were damaged due to negligent driving. Lastly, PennDOT mandated that the new diverging diamond be paved and operational over a single night and weekend.
Despite all that the crews faced – the publicity, the traffic, the challenges – they still managed to complete the project on schedule and within budget. Everyone agrees the project’s success can be attributed to one thing – the crew! When asked if there is anything he would like to say to the workers, Vern replied, “Great job! Everyone worked together toward one common goal, did what they were supposed to do and got it done.” Scott Prowell, Project Manager, added, “We had total buy-in from every person on the job site. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.” Even Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill was impressed by the team’s hard work, dedication and perseverance, as mentioned at the project’s ribbon-cutting ceremony in September 2021.Categories: Completed Projects