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Paving by Moonlight: Night Construction on I-435

When Ron Johnson, PS, CWI, wakes up at 3 p.m. and makes coffee, he doesn’t know whether to make breakfast or lunch before going to work.

Ron is the Quality Control Manager in our Junction City office. He and a few other inspectors have been working from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. on a night construction project in Kansas City managed by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Not a lot of individuals associate construction with nighttime. However, those who work in the traffic industry, like Ron, know that it is fairly common in metropolitan areas.

The main reason to conduct night construction projects is that it increases safety for workers and motorists since there is less traffic at night. Projects completed at night are also often completed faster, since traffic does not hinder construction.

Our inspectors are currently working nights on Interstate 435 in Wyandotte County, Kansas. The project begins past the Kansas River and runs north on I-435 until just before the Missouri state line.

The team starts by resurfacing the center lane of I-435 North. Once they go the distance of the project (6.7 miles), the contractors turn around and replace the asphalt going south. Contractors work from the inside out and resurface the entrance and exit ramps at the end of the project. I-435 is a three-lane highway, which adds up to almost 42 miles total of roadway for the mill and overlay.

For this project, Ron is the Project Manager and self-described “jack of all trades.” Curtis Burns, Senior Engineer Technician, completes quality assurance testing at the asphalt plant of the hot asphalt itself to make sure it is mixed correctly. Cris Ellis, Engineer Technician, provides quality assurance during the milling of the old road. Colby Bucl, Engineer Technician, tests the asphalt during the overlay.

The main tasks of the inspectors on site include sampling and testing materials used for the project as well as inspecting the workmanship of the mill and overlay job itself. Inspectors also use a project diary to document everything that is involved with the project, and report to KDOT regarding the quality assurance sector of the project. Inspectors use project diaries to document quality control and quality assurance measurements, amount of materials used, densities and testing of products, and change orders for overuse or underuse of materials.

Ron said that while his sleep schedule was switched around for these projects, it is often safer and faster to work during the night. Contractors are required to provide workers with proper lighting and safety equipment during the project, like reflective vests, that ensures workers are safe.

When Ron isn’t waking up in the afternoon to do quality assurance for night construction projects, he’s working on bridge inspections, welding inspections, surveys, mentoring employees and business development.

Inspectors began working on site in late August. The project is scheduled to finish just before Thanksgiving. Night construction may seem uncommon to the average person, but to many of our inspectors like Ron Johnson, it is not unusual. We are happy to work on unique projects, and our inspectors are especially skilled at nighttime mill and overlay projects.