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No Stranger to Big Highway Projects—
Yonkers Contracting Tackles Rebuild in NY Interstate

June 2007, White Plains, NY. The reconstruction of one of the busiest stretches of interstate in the country is not too daunting a task for Yonkers Contracting Company, Inc., Yonkers, NY. With 60 years' experience in heavy construction, general contracting, and design/build services -- often at high profile, landmark sites -- Yonkers Contracting began work on the $150 million I-287/Cross Westchester Expressway project for the New York State DOT in June, 2006.

Multi-faceted Three-Year Effort

The almost 2-mile stretch of I-287 includes heavily trafficked exits and entrances in the city of White Plains. Yonkers Contracting and their partner, Dragados USA, expect to complete the project in November, 2009.

The early stages of preparatory work in 2006 included a push to reroute a large gas line for the Tennessee Gas Co. before cold weather could make work too difficult.

The project description reads like a laundry list of everything that goes into rebuilding a highway: milling existing overlay and pavement replacement; reconstructing shoulders and ramps; demolition and replacement of nine bridges and rehabilitation of one; reconstruction of two pedestrian bridges; constructing a new frontage road; relocation of an exit and creating a new auxiliary lane; preparation and installation of 6800 linear ft. of noise barriers; rerouting utilities and construction of a new storm water drainage system; constructing a center median and new guide rails and fences; and installation of new electrical overhead signboards.

The Equipment to Meet the Challenges

As with many multi-faceted large contracts, the right choice of equipment and a team of experienced operators are critical. If certain aspects of the project are not completed in a requisite number of nights, steep fines are imposed on the contractor. On the other side of the equation, there are monetary incentives to complete the work ahead of schedule.

The project's most obvious challenge is maintaining traffic flow -- especially during rush hours -- on these already overburdened roadways. Establishing temporary lanes and rerouting traffic will be necessary during the entire 3-year project, according to Louis Marino, VP of Equipment Operations at Yonkers Contracting. Marino explained that the company has a specialized piece of equipment that enables them to shift traffic patterns for uninterrupted work. Quickchange® Moveable Barriers (from Barrier Systems Inc.) are lifted and moved laterally, one lane at a time, by the Barrier Transfer Machine to keep traffic flowing as smoothly as possible and to provide protection for both workers and motorists. The Transfer Machine can move barriers as quickly as one mile every 15 minutes. (Motorists who use the Tappan Zee Bridge to cross the Hudson River north of New York City are familiar with this ingenious system, as a lane is reversed twice a day to accommodate rush hour traffic).

One of the biggest tasks is the preparation and installation of the new noise barriers and retaining walls. Post holes will be drilled into the rock face, and panels will be lifted and positioned by cranes. As Fred Cardillo, Yonkers Contracting Project Manager, told us, "you never know what you'll find". Some areas of rock will be harder to drill than others; such natural variations will become apparent as work progresses.

Tramac Hammers Used for Proven Productivity

Demolition of eleven bridges means a lot of material to be removed. Massive concrete structures are broken into sections using hoe rams attached to CAT backhoes. Once this step is completed, Tramac hydraulic hammers are used to break the huge slabs into sizes that can be managed by offsite crushers. Presently, Yonkers Contracting has two V46s and several smaller V32s on site making swift work of the slabs. These V-Series hammers are highly productive due in part to the variable speed feature, which responds to changes in material hardness and adjusts automatically to the most desirable combination of impact power and striking rate.

According to Marino, Yonkers Contracting has enjoyed an excellent track record with Tramac and says they give him "the best production of any we've used in the past". Marino has another important reason for sticking with Tramac: the excellent relationship he has developed with his dealer, Alessi Equipment Co. in Mt. Vernon, NY. He told us they are "real hammer people" who give excellent support in the field. He adds, "They know what they're doing."

The respect is mutual. Gerry Alessi, President of Alessi Equipment, says that Yonkers Contracting is a "first class customer. They are serious about training their operators and they take proper care of their equipment."

Yonkers Contracting Has a Rich New York History

Yonkers Contracting has a long history of building and reconstructing important projects in the New York metropolitan area. Some examples give an idea of the company's scope. They fabricated and installed twin monorails at Liberty Newark Airport and built a 4200 sq. ft. substation to house the electrical equipment needed for the system. In 1998, they replaced the deck and stringers of the Brooklyn Bridge, given only 150 seven-hour nightly shutdowns to complete the job! They built the foundation for the 2,000-room Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City. They constructed a vast underground network of walkways in Grand Central Station which resulted in additional entrances and exits and tremendous added convenience for commuters. (This project involved demolition, construction, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing services and was completed without interruption to train operations.) They reconstructed a 3-mile section of Northern State Parkway (Long Island), widening it from 2 to 3 lanes in both directions, demolishing and replacing six bridges.

The Westchester I-287 rebuild will be one more success to add to Yonkers Contracting's list of complex projects completed in one of the world's most challenging work environments.