Superior Bowen Gets Consistency in Kansas City
The Superior Bowen crew approached an overlay requiring the shutdown of the I-670 Loop in Kansas City for two weekends in exactly the same way that they would any other interstate paving project. This consistent approach is one of the primary reasons that the crew earned bonuses for smoothness and compaction and completed the work on the highly traveled highway within the project’s allotted time.
The complete closure of 1 1/4 miles of westbound lanes began Friday at 5:30 p.m., and was reopened to traffic Monday at 6 a.m. In that short time, the crew milled existing pavement up to 2 inches deep, placed approximately 44,000 square yards of hot mix in a single 1 1/2-inch lift, and reached a compaction rate of better than 95 percent for the new driving surface.
Several weeks later, Superior Bowen’s crew successfully completed the same work—at the same high standards—on the I-670 Loop’s eastbound lanes. A project that could have taken weeks to complete was essentially completed in two weekends. “We can complete a good amount of work in a small window of time to minimize disruption to the public,” Matt Bowen, company owner, said. “Our employees are our best asset. We have great crews.”
The use of a material transfer machine is a common thread on the I-670 overlay and virtually all of Superior Bowen’s interstate highway work.
“For all of our state projects, we use the same set-up,” Nathan Brown, field superintendent, said. “We use a transfer machine with the paver, then a breakdown roller, intermediate roller, and finish roller. We try to keep consistent on the state jobs. We’ve had really good success that way.”
On the I-670 job, work began with the milling of 1 1/2 inches off the existing roadway. “Beneath the overpasses we have a variance for height. We went one-half inch deeper there,” Brown noted.
A small amount of concrete was milled, mainly where patches had been made or to straighten gutter lines. “For the most part, we’ve taken off the surface lift of asphalt,” Brown said. “There’s no rebar at that shallow a depth.”
Repair work had to be completed before paving began. “There was quite a bit of full-depth patching,” Brown stated.
Beginning at about 4 a.m. Saturday, paving crews worked in 12-hour shifts. Much of the paving was completed using a Cat® AP1055F paver with a Weiler SE10 screed. Brown explained that they use Cat electronics on the paver with an averaging beam with success. “We can place 45 feet per minute and we have virtually no bumps.”
All five of the company’s pavers are Cat machines. “We have four paving crews and we keep one Cat paver as a spare to keep projects going if we have a breakdown,” Brown said. “Production has increased because the newer pavers are so user friendly. The machines are also fuel efficient and very precise.”
On the overlay, the Superior Bowen crew placed 250 to 275 tons per hour. “That depends on how the lanes are laid out. When we’re on the main pulls, where we have straight 12-foot lanes, we’re at 275 tons per hour,” Brown said.
Lanes were typically paved in 12-foot wide lifts, but alongside the loop’s barricade, widths varied from 8 to 14 feet. The front-mount extendable screed made variable widths relatively easy to accommodate.
“We’re running an 18-foot screed. When we’re down to 8 feet, we lay it as narrow as we can and stringline it so it’s a nice, straight line,” Brown explained.
The mix was Superpave with polymer binder, 25 percent recycled material, and 3/8-inch aggregate. Binder was dust-fractured granite and manufactured sand. The crew placed the mix in a single lift.
Continuous paving was integral to the job’s success. “We don’t want to stop the paver. That can create a bump,” Brown said. “The public doesn’t like it, and there’s a bonus from the state if we meet the smoothness result in the profilograph results.”
To keep the paver fed and paving train moving, 10 trucks hauled hot mix from a Superior Bowen asphalt plant 12 miles from the site. The company owns and operates six asphalt plants. The mix left the plant at approximately 350 degrees, and was laid at 310 to 315 degrees.
Two breakdown rollers (a Cat CB54 and Cat CB64) closely followed the paver and worked in tandem.
“They are offset by six inches,” Brown stated. “They make a pass up and a pass back together. They make a five-pass pattern. We’re looking for a compaction rate of 95 to 96 percent.”
An oscillating roller followed the breakdown rollers to finish the compaction process and clean up any marks or lines. “We try to finish at about 180 degrees with the oscillating roller. It provides a kneading effect, instead of just an amplitude punch straight through the mat.”
The crew reached the desired compaction rate quickly. After the lanes were striped, the I-670 Loop was reopened to traffic. Both sections of the overlay were finished on time and met the smoothness and compaction specs set by the Missouri DOT.
Superior Bowen’s approach to highway work was successful once again.
Superior Asphalt and Bowen Construction, two companies that made names for themselves managing projects ranging from residential roads, highways, airport runways and expansive parking lots, merged in 2000 to form Superior Bowen. Since then, the company has grown to become the dominant asphalt paver/producer in the Kansas City region, noted for quality of work, on-time completion, and responsible use of recycled materials including RAP, RAS and rubber.
Commercial and private jobs are about 65 percent of the company’s work, and governmental jobs approximately 35 percent. The four paving crews work jobs as big as interstate paving work and as small as driveways. Cold milling, paving, roadwork, and highway construction are the company’s backbone. Employees are one of the company’s greatest assets. People tend to stay at Superior Bowen, and pass along their hard-earned paving knowledge to new employees.
“We have people that have been here 20 and 30 years, and made careers here,” Matt Bowen, company owner, said. “We have great crews.”
Superior Bowen also produces and sells hot and warm-mix asphalt, often using recycled materials, and formulates and innovates additives to improve the performance characteristics of various asphalt mixes.
Paving bonuses are awarded based on meeting specified criteria. A crew and equipment that you can count on to complete the work at the same high level of quality every day without fail is required to earn bonuses. To maintain a high level of uptime and performance, Superior Bowen relies on Cat® machines.
“We run mainly Cat machines in the Paving Division,” Nathan Brown, field superintendent, said. “We have very little downtime, probably two percent. They’re put together very well.”
When a new machine is purchased, Foley Equipment personnel train paving crews on the use of new technology and provide support as the new machine is introduced to the paving train.
Dealer service also includes parts delivery. “We call them and they get right on it,” Brown says. “They understand that every minute counts for us.”