Miller Bros. Const., Inc. – ODOT – I-75 Widening Project

Miller Bros ODOT 2Miller Bros. Const., Inc. and the Ohio Department of Transportation are hard at work on making enhancements to I-75.

By Eric Slack

In an age when infrastructure improvements are more important than ever, the reconstruction of I-75 in Ohio is a significant undertaking. Projects are taking place to improve the roadway in many parts of the state. This includes the Wood and Hancock County I-75 widening project, designed to create a safer highway for Ohio citizens and the traveling public.

Two of the key parties involved in this ongoing effort are the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Miller Bros. Const., Inc. (MBC). ODOT is a state department responsible for planning, constructing and maintaining all state and federal routes in Ohio.

As for MBC, it has a history dating back to the 1940s in land and ditch clearing and cleaning. Over time, the company evolved to highway construction in the 1950s. Since then, MBC has continued to adapt and tailor itself to best fit the always-changing highway construction industry. The company can best be described as specializing in a number of heavy highway markets, including public infrastructure, commercial, environmental, industrial and structures.

“These are the areas we are best known for,” MBC Project Manager Ryan Bernath says. “Our department’s main function is focused on estimating and management of Public Highway work, which includes all structural components, such as the bridges on this particular project.”

Working Together

MBC came to work on this portion of the I-75 widening project after bidding the project via the ODOT letting schedule. After the ODOT review of the bidding documents and a formal discussion between MBC and ODOT officials, the project was awarded to MBC.

“To ensure a fair process, ODOT makes all projects available for bidding,” ODOT Area Engineer Brian French says. “This allows ODOT to get the most competitive pricing on a project and allows multiple companies to compete for business.”Miller ODOT Box

This $71 million project is a part of the $272 million I-75 widening project. Once complete, the interstate will host three lanes of traffic in each direction over 32 consecutive miles in Wood and Hancock counties. MBC is responsible for constructing an area approximately 8.5 miles long. Work started in July 2014 and is scheduled to be complete in June 2017.

“Compared to the other projects within this corridor, this project is unique in that it’s the only design-build project,” Bernath says. “It was the first project ODOT sold in the corridor, but was the last to start and will be near the end for completion as well.”

For its part, MBC values the input and efforts from the local unions to help staff the project, in addition to the efforts of its numerous subcontractors and material suppliers. The efforts of its design/build partner, DGL, have also served a key role in providing a plan and design to keep all parties on the right path that should end in success for all involved.

As for ODOT, the agency believes in partnering and engaging in the formal process of creating a cooperative team by resolving issues in a timely manner. This helps to ensure project value is retained. Partnering is now required and is a standard way of business on all ODOT construction projects.

“The partnering process creates an environment that enables all stakeholders to develop a relationship based on communication, trust, and respect,” French says. “There are many partners involved in the project including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Wood and Hancock County ODOT Maintenance facilities, first responders, the municipalities and the numerous sub-contractors and suppliers. So far, the tenets of partnering have allowed for strong relationships to be built, which has aided in keeping the project on time and within budget.”

Indeed, MBC and ODOT have demonstrated their ability to work successfully together on this and other projects. MBC has successfully bid on other ODOT projects, and in 2015 one of ODOT’s districts earned a Don Conaway Partnering Award for two projects completed last year. One of those was the I-75 and U.S. 224 interchange reconstruction, on which ODOT partnered with MBC. The Don Conaway Partnering Award was established three years ago as an award to recognize ODOT districts that show exemplary partnership with a construction group.

Safety and Efficiency

Among the main priorities on the project has been balancing the need to maintain traffic efficiently and safely while also allowing the work to be performed in an efficient manner.

“The biggest challenge is the volume of traffic this interstate sees daily,” Bernath says. “We work diligently to establish safe travelling lanes for the public, while also keeping our own workers safe in their zones as well. Communication is ongoing between ODOT, ourselves and all other agencies to solve any issues that arise.”

Ultimately, this project should end up providing a safer, smoother commute for those who choose to utilize the I-75 corridor for their transportation needs. The project – along with the rest of the widening in the I-75 corridor – will provide a safer roadway that will be able to better handle the ever-increasing movement of goods and services to and through the region. When it is complete, the widening project should lead to a less congested roadway that is safer and easier for motorists to navigate, meeting the needs of drivers now and well into the future.

“There will be many lessons learned and experiences to remember as we all move on to the next project,” Bernath says. “The key will be remembering those that kept our employees safe and heading home to their families each and every night they were on the project.”

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