03/18/12 — Interstate 795 rewarded for smooth ride after rough start

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Interstate 795 rewarded for smooth ride after rough start

By From staff reports
Published in News on March 18, 2012 1:50 AM

Interstate 795, once scoffed at for its crumbling pavement and bumpy ride, is now being hailed as one of the smoothest-riding roads in the country.

S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson, the company responsible for repairing a stretch of the highway, and the state Department of Transportation are sharing the 2011 Sheldon G. Hayes Award for Highest Quality in Asphalt Paving that is given by the National Asphalt Pavement Association.

The project was the milling and overlay of eight miles of I-795 from N.C. 222 at Fremont, north into Wilson County. The company rehabilitated the existing pavement that had not been properly designed to withstand heavy truck traffic.

The mill-and-fill portion was done in the winter of 2009 and the overlay in the summer of 2010.

According to the National Asphalt Pavement Association, Wooten focused on achieving exceptional pavement quality and achieved optimum smoothness.

Also, Wooten, with the permission of the DOT, used different lift depths from those originally called for in the contract, providing a smoother surface. The company completed its work in just 80 construction days, without accidents or penalties.

The award selection is a two-year process for highway pavement projects using more than 50,000 tons of asphalt. The project first must win a Quality in Construction Award that is based on numerical scores given by pavement engineers at the National Center for Asphalt Technology.

The scores look at how well the contractor met the specifications and achieved density on the finished pavement. The following year after a project wins a Quality in Construction Award, it may be considered for the Sheldon G. Hayes Award.

The top-ranked projects are tested for smoothness and visually inspected by an experienced independent pavement consultant.

DOT Division 4 engineers had warned the state that additional asphalt was needed before I-795 was built. However, the state did not heed those warnings and the road that was completed in December 2005 began crumbling by the summer of 2007.

The state spent $500,000 in a winterization project on the outside lanes where the most severe cracking was found. Prior to that, a section of the southbound lanes just north of Goldsboro had been patched.

Contracts were awarded in October 2009 to Barnhill Contracting Co. for slightly more than $6 million and S.T. Wooten Corp. for $5.9 million for the repair and additional asphalt. The total was $1.4 million less than the DOT's original estimate of $13.4 million.

Originally designed as U.S. 117, the 18-mile four-lane divided highway between Goldsboro and Wilson was added to the Interstate System as I-795 in October 2007.