A marathon project demands durable Bobcat equipment
Bobcat compact excavators and loaders live up to their reputation on a 26-mile infrastructure project near Salt Lake City; keep crews ahead of schedule
Mark Hagel, equipment supervisor for Ames Construction.
In what could arguably be the most substantial infrastructure project currently taking place in the United States, a team of Bobcat® skid-steer and compact track loaders, compact excavators and attachments are dotting a 26-mile stretch of Interstate 15 that is under construction.
Mark Hagel is the equipment supervisor for Ames Construction — a member of Provo River Constructors (PRC) — and equipment manager for PRC. PRC is a collection of local, regional and national contractors and engineers who are working together to reconstruct I-15 for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). The project is called I-15 Corridor Expansion, or CORE for short. Hagel has more than 30 years of experience with Ames Construction, based out of Burnsville, Minn., and is very knowledgeable about what equipment his crews need to complete their day-to-day jobs.
According to Hagel, nearly three dozen Bobcat machines are operated daily to assist with the $1.3 billion I-15 CORE project in Utah County. Specialized compact equipment, including multiple mini excavators and skid-steer and compact track loaders coupled with attachments, work efficiently alongside larger earthmoving machines.
Growth demands improved infrastructure
Nestled between the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges in Utah County is a rapidly growing metropolitan area. Utah County is considered one of the fastest developing counties in the United States. It lies just south of Salt Lake County, and Provo is its largest city. More than 20 percent of the entire state’s population lives in Utah County, and it’s expected to grow by more than 125,000 residents by 2020.
A T650 compact track loader helps with rough grading along a new bridge embankment.
I-15 CORE construction
With the needed infrastructure improvements and additions, UDOT began I-15 CORE in spring 2010 and project that it will be complete by December 2012. It is certainly one of the largest and busiest construction sites in the United States. More than 1,600 people work on the construction and management teams.
The I-15 CORE project will address long-term transportation needs for the growing area. It will add two travel lanes in both directions on I-15 from Lehi to Spanish Fork, Utah. It rebuilds or reconfigures 10 freeway interchanges and replaces or restores 65 aging bridges. Its life span is relatively long as crews are using 40-year concrete pavement along the entire corridor. When it’s all said and done, it is estimated to meet transportation demands through the year 2030.
In September 2011, the I-15 CORE project reached its halfway point. Here are some startling statistics about what had been done by then.
- More than 5 million tons of earth was moved
- Nearly 1 million square yards of concrete pavement, 12 inches thick, was poured
- 31 miles of drain pipe were installed
- 35 of 65 bridges were built or replaced
What keeps this project moving are many Bobcat machines and attachments, operated daily by the construction teams and overseen by Ames Construction. With its combination of skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders, compact excavators and attachments, Ames Construction crews are helping the project stay ahead of schedule.
Hagel says the equipment is critical to the project’s success.
A Bobcat excavator and compact track loader work in tandem along new pavement for Interstate 15.
“The Bobcat machines are always on the site doing something,” he says. “Some of the first models we purchased have well over 2,200 hours on them.”
Why compact track loaders?
A majority of the loaders on site are of the compact track variety … 13 to be exact, including three M-Series T650s. Hagel says the ground conditions are one of the biggest reasons for selecting loaders with a rubber track undercarriage.
“Flotation and low ground pressure are important to us, especially when we’re building walls and we’re working in rock,” he says. “The compact track loaders float across the rock. In that application, we have to have them. We do a lot of topsoil and curb and gutter work, where we just don’t want to disturb the ground.”
On sites where compact track loaders are working side by side with much larger equipment, Hagel says his Bobcat loaders hold their own.
“Our Bobcat loaders take the place of a small wheel loader,” he says. “They’ll do quite a good job. We use the loaders to fill 10-wheelers; they’re moving the material to the backfill areas. All of our Bobcat compact track loaders have been excellent machines.”
For being in the industry as long as Hagel has, he’s worked with many brands and has compared Bobcat compact track loaders to other models. He says Bobcat loaders are far superior.
Bobcat compact excavators complement larger construction equipment along the I-15 project near Provo, Utah. Bobcat excavators help with numerous underground installations, backfilling and grading projects.
Throughout the construction project, Hagel has developed a strong working relationship with his local Bobcat dealer, Intermountain Bobcat. The Salt Lake City-based dealership provides three-fold assistance to Hagel: service, parts and rental.
“Service-wise, Intermountain Bobcat has technicians on the jobsite daily,” he says. “They check the equipment and service it according to the recommended intervals. They keep track of that for us.”
Genuine Bobcat parts are important to Hagel, which is why he uses only Bobcat parts for the machines. “They (Intermountain Bobcat) keep us supplied. I don’t even have to talk to the dealer about it; they keep a supply readily on-hand.” A trailer full of parts is kept near the jobsite in a secure area.
As the need for additional machines arose, Hagel called upon his Bobcat dealer again for support. He’s rented nearly a dozen compact excavators and compact track loaders to supplement his current inventory.
“You’re not just buying a machine, it’s the parts, service and support you get from the dealer,” Hagel says. “We know who we can go to. If you can’t get the support, then a machine is no good to me.”
On an infrastructure project of this magnitude, Bobcat compact equipment and attachments have been instrumental in helping Hagel and Ames Construction and PRC crews stay on schedule, even get work done earlier than planned. Bobcat machines, coupled with unmatched dealer support, have proven their trademark durability that sets them apart.
Read more about the I-15 CORE project online at www.udot.utah.gov/I15core.
Here are some specific examples of how Bobcat equipment is being used in the I-15 CORE project:
“The Bobcat loaders do a lot of backfilling, especially around bridge abutments,” Hagel says. “We install a lot of MSE (mechanically stabilized earth) walls and barrier walls alongside the interstate, and the Bobcat loaders and excavators work together on the installations.”
2. Breaking concrete
Occasionally, Hagel says a concrete section needs to be replaced. A Bobcat loader and HB980 breaker step in to handle the task.
“If we have a bad concrete panel, we’ll break up the 15-by-15-foot panel with a Bobcat loader and breaker, and then pick up the pieces with a Bobcat excavator and clamp,” he says. “We’ll place the broken concrete into a loader’s bucket and the loader will dump it into a truck.”
3. Loading trucks / moving material
“Our Bobcat 335 and 337 compact excavator models and loaders work together to fill dump trucks. The excavators and loaders finish topsoil areas and do touch-up work.” PRC’s crews have 10, 48-inch pallet fork attachments to quickly move material with Bobcat loaders.
A Bobcat compact track loader is paired with a 24-inch planer attachment to mill asphalt approaches. “They’ll even do some concrete milling. We’ll use it if we’re trying to tie in two surfaces, say a new and an old, trying to taper it down. We have two planer attachments and they’re going steady.”
5. Underground installations
Hagel says the Bobcat machines help around small utility installations such as pipe in areas where larger equipment wouldn’t fit.
“Bobcat equipment is quite versatile. The machines are wanted and they’re needed badly. You don’t see them sitting around very often. They work a lot, some of them work 24 hours a day, six days a week. We keep a supply of Bobcat parts on site so we have them available.”