Route 119 reconstruction earns industry honors |

Route 119 reconstruction earns industry honors

Jeff Himler
Celeste Van Kirk | Tribune-Review
Russ Hunter with Golden Triangle Construction cleans dirt from the road along Route 119 in Dunbar Township on Monday, June 29, 2015. The project, at a cost of $7.246 million, began on April 1 and involves a new concrete overlay.

A project that reconstructed a section of Route 119 in East Huntingdon has gained national recognition, receiving an award for excellence in concrete paving workmanship.

Completed during the 2016 and 2017 construction seasons, the PennDOT project updated a 5-mile section of the highway, from the Westec Drive exit to the Route 819 interchange. It has been selected as an American Concrete Pavement Association National Award for Excellence “Gold Winner” in the “National Divided Highways” category.

It also was one of two pilot projects in the state that evaluated the use of fly ash and granulated blast-furnace slag as substitute materials in the concrete mix.

PennDOT Engineering District 12, contactor Golden Triangle Construction and project design consultant SAI Engineers will be recognized for the ACPA award at the Pennsylvania Concrete Conference Feb. 20 at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel.

“Despite the complexity of the project, as well as unforeseen delays, we were able to complete the work in just 20 working months,” Golden Triangle project manager Anthony Pastin said in a press release.

“The award was for the overall high level of quality on the paving project,” said ACPA spokesman John Becker. He noted the contractor had to compensate for weather-related challenges and delays in relocating utility lines, in order to complete the project by PennDOT’s November 2017 deadline.

During the 2016 paving season, when soaring daytime temperatures became too hot for the paving process, the contractor used a water chiller and worked during the night.

“You have to light up the area. It’s not as easy as paving in the daytime,” said David Sciullo, vice president of construction for Golden Triangle.

Abundant rainfall in 2017, averaging three days per week from April to July, interfered with planned work and pushed some paving into weekends to keep the project on schedule.

The $37.8 million project required more than 190,000 square yards of concrete pavement. It also involved upgraded drainage and storm water retention systems along a stretch of more than 3 miles, median upgrades with a concrete barrier, mine stabilization and paving of inside shoulders.

The Route 119 reconstruction was selected as a pilot project, to study various concrete mixes that are meant to help offset the problem of alkali-silica reaction.

According to the Portland Cement Association , silica aggregates can react with alkali hydroxide in concrete “to form a gel that swells as it absorbs water from the surrounding cement paste or the environment. These gels can induce enough expansive pressure to damage concrete,” possibly leading to cracking.

In the pilot program, Becker said, a percentage of the cement ingredient of the concrete was replaced with slag or fly ash to control the adverse reaction. The study looked at how much material could be substituted without affecting the strength of the concrete, while crews tweaked construction techniques.

The special concrete mix, applied in the left southbound lane near the Westec Drive exit, has held up well so far, Sciullo said.

“We’ve all learned a little bit from the effort,” said Becker.

Recycled concrete also was used in the project, and a truck inspection area was paved with roller-compacted concrete.

Golden Triangle worked on earlier Route 119 projects, including improvements at the Route 819 interchange and a concrete overlay in Dunbar Township, Fayette County.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.