Paving the Way for New Opportunities in West Texas

June 15, 2017 | Kieways 2017 Q2

The dry, desolate conditions of West Texas may not rank at the top of the list for bustling destinations. But for Kiewit, it’s been a hub for plenty of project opportunities.

Over the past two years, a core team of six staff and about 15 to 20 craft has been working hard and fast on nine paving projects for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

The jobs — totaling $86 million in contracts — are straightforward: to provide lasting roadway rehab for crumbling stretches of highway around Odessa and Lubbock.

Projects have included milling existing surfaces, applying base treatments and laying 333,000 tons of asphalt hotmix to restore the roadway, add passing lanes and replace a small bridge.

Though the work takes crews to remote locations, that’s part of Kiewit’s formula for success, says Ryan Booth, who served as project manager for two of the jobs.

Project Sponsor Scott Roe looks at market conditions to determine which jobs have the best opportunities.

“We go to the places no one else wants to go,” Booth says. “They’re usually remote locations and small towns.” The rest of the formula is a mix of art, science and hard work.

Kiewit was awarded three of five TxDOT jobs that include an emulsion treatment to the existing base. The special asphalt mix stabilizes the base layer — making for a longer life.

Providing this kind of new base treatment required an investment in new equipment and training for the crew. However, Booth says it was a calculated risk that’s paid off.

“It’s a new way of doing things and not every TxDOT district is doing it. But it turned out well, so we think it’s going to become more common.”

With the potential for more jobs in the area also came a need to provide a new source of crushed rock used in the asphalt mix.

A Texas specification requires that rock used on paving jobs must meet a certain grade or quality of hardness. But with only a few places in the state to mine that resource, Kiewit faced a shortage early on and had to put a hold on work.

The company decided to set up its own crushing operation in Balmorhea, south of Odessa. Now, Booth says it can cover a 100- or 200-mile radius and sell rock to others doing work in the area. The operation also provides work to craft in the paving off-season.

As the final project approaches completion this July, the team is proud to have earned praise from the client and the industry. Several jobs have been recognized for achieving a superior “quality of ride,” indicating the smoothness of the pavement.

The biggest achievement, Booth says, is how dedicated the team has been.

“The long hours and hard work of everybody on every job — there’s no way we would have gotten here without it.”

TxDOT’s Ed Goebel echoed this praise.

“On behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation, I would like to thank everyone who’s worked on our roads. Your dedication, professionalism and hard work is appreciated.”


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