Despite a few puddles in the road, the $490 million Garden Grove (State Route 22) Freeway project in Orange County is cruising along at a rapid pace.
"This project is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving 2006, 800 days from ground breaking, an aggressive, but achievable schedule," said Jim Laing, deputy project director, with Granite-Myers-Rados, the project's joint-venture design-build team.The 12-mi.-long freeway improvement project is the largest job to date for the Orange County Transportation Authority and the first design/build improvement of an active freeway in the state.
The GMR team is made up of Watsonville-based Granite Construction Co.; Rancho Cordova-based C. C. Myers; and Steve P. Rados Inc., of Santa Ana. Design will be provided by the GMR team through lead designer, URS Corp. of San Francisco, with support from RBF Consulting of Irvine and Santa Ana-based Wei Koo & Associates.
"We all have our separate expertise," said Rick Grebner, project engineer with OCTA. "Myers is an experienced bridge builder, Rados is a highway builder and [Granite] does both."
The project, which broke ground Sept. 22, 2004, consists of adding high-occupancy-vehicle carpool lanes in each direction of the 22 between Tustin Avenue. and Valley View Street, as well as new auxiliary lanes between The City Drive and Beach Boulevard.
The team will also reconfigure the connector ramp from southbound Orange Freeway (State Route 57) to westbound 22 and create a new collector/distributor ramp system between The City Drive and the Interstate 5 interchange, which will separate and improve traffic entering and exiting from eastbound 22.
Other highlights include the widening or replacing of 55 separate bridge structures; upgraded on/off ramps; and the creation of 12 mi. each of retaining walls, drainage pipes and sound walls (averaging 14- to 16-ft. tall).
The project team said the design/build method will shave approximately three years off the traditional design-bid-build method of project delivery.
"[Design/build] adds flexibility to make adjustments," said Grebner said.
Currently, the job is about 90-percent complete with design and 25-percent finished with construction.
One big adjustment that needed to be made took place next to The Block at Orange shopping center, near Metropolitan Drive. and The City Drive off- ramp, where crews were preparing for the new 1-mi.-long 22/57 collector/distributor ramp.
While excavating, workers encountered a massive amount of underground phone, gas and sewer lines.
"Almost every major utility through central Orange County goes underneath Metropolitan Drive," said David Smith, the GMR project engineer. "We knew they were there, we just underestimated the magnitude or the time frame. We didn't realize we would spend six months moving utilities in this little .5-mi. stretch."
Smith said that thanks to design/build, GMR was able to bring together all of the power companies involved, as well as the design team and construction managers. The utilities were then moved about 40 ft. back and Metropolitan Drive was realigned.
Another flexibility issue arose after the second-wettest rainy season in Southern California history drenched the project last winter, causing the loss of between 30 and 40 workdays.
The problem was highlighted in the Santa Ana River Channel, where pier walls for the 22/57 interchange are going up. Crews were originally told they could enter the channel on April 15, but because of heavy rain, they couldn't get in until mid-May.
"It was a raging torrent," Smith said. "Even though we lost that kind of time, we made adjustments to our delivery sequencing and have been able to make up that time."
The 22 Freeway is a 12.5-mi. east-west route linking the 55, 57, 5, I-405 and SR-605 freeways in Orange County. Along the way, the thoroughfare cuts through the cities of Westminster, Garden Grove, Santa Ana and the Ccity of Orange.
The freeway has seen no major improvements since it was built in the 1960's, to handle a maximum of 115,000 cars a day. At the time, the county's population was 700,000.
Today, the county's population is nearly 3 million, and the freeway's traffic volume is more than 200,000 cars per day. It is anticipated to reach 350,000 by 2020.
Once the job is completed, it will have consumed an average of $750,000 per day. The amount of materials used will be 140,000 cu.yds. of concrete for bridges; 110,000 cu.yds. of concrete pavement; 170,000 tons of asphalt pavement; 15 million lbs. of rebar; 1 million lin.ft. of new roadway stripping; and 800,000 cu. yds of excavation material.
The 22 freeway improvement project is being funded with $323 million from Measure M, the half-cent sales tax for Orange County transportation improvement projects that was passed by Orange County voters in 1990. The balance is coming from $101 million in federal money, $56.4 million in state funds and $11 million from the local cities.