Hawkins Construction Company

Hawkins Construction Company works with the intent to master its field. From the beginning, the company has always aimed big. In fact, the first job brothers Kenneth and Earl Hawkins bid on and won was for the University of Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. That was in 1922, and by 1960 the company was grossing more than $20 million a year.

In the next decade, it made a name for itself constructing major private and government-owned office buildings. In the ‘60s, it made the leap into public works jobs, building wastewater and water treatment plants. In the early ‘80s, Hawkins applied its self-performing skills and equipment to heavy highway work, building the foundation to become “the region’s largest and most successful highway and bridge contractor, completing high-profile paving and bridge projects across the Midwest,” according to the company.

In the past two decades, Hawkins has completed many Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) projects. Previous projects include major expansions along Interstate 480 and Interstate 680 in the heart of Omaha, as well as some of the city’s most recognizable bridges, including the historic 10th Street bridge and the twin mile-long, three-lane elevated West Dodge Expressway. Currently, Hawkins is overseeing completion of two of eight major projects NDOR has undertaken to expand Interstate 80 along the critical corridor between Lincoln and Omaha.

The entire 44-mile project will increase I-80 from a four-lane to six-lane highway. The state kicked off the 13-year project in 2003. Three of the eight projects are completed and the remaining projects will have staggered completions into 2016. In total, Hawkins will have completed 18 miles of the project through separate contracts.

NDOR contracted Hawkins for a portion that will widen a 5.8-mile segment from the Greenwood Interchange to the Mahoney Interchange. The three-phase project broke ground in April 2009 and is slated for a 2012 completion. It includes widening both the east- and westbound lanes, as well as the removal and replacement of four bridges. As of May, two of the bridges and the westbound widening were completed. Hawkins is now widening the eastbound lanes and constructing the remaining bridges. It is performing grading work and crushing concrete pavement that will serve as the base course for the eastbound lanes.

Last winter, Hawkins was hit with tough winter weather, forcing the team to work longer hours and more days to maintain the schedule. “There is a lot of work to do here and under pretty stringent time frames that are typical of interstate projects,” Vice President Tom Crockett says. “We did have some typical weather interruption, but there weren’t any delays or challenges we couldn’t overcome.”

Above-Standard Subs

Hawkins is self-performing much of the work including sub-grade stabilization, 445,000-square yards of pavement, laying 4,200 linear feet of culvert pipes and building 1,500 cubic yards of box culverts. For its subcontracted work, Crockett says Hawkins called on many local companies on par with the company’s quality standards.

“This project wasn’t out of the ordinary, but with the amount of work done here it wasn’t easy by any means,” Crockett says. “I would attribute the project’s success so far to the people working on this job – the owner’s representatives, the Hawkins’ personnel and our subcontractors. They have all bought into the goals of the project and have done everything to see that those are met.” Hawkins’ key partners include Pink Grading.

The entire I-80 expansion not only will widen 44 miles, but also improve 41 mainline bridges, 23 bridges over I-80, 11 interchanges, three rest areas and two weigh-station facilities. NDOR’s goals are to increase capacity; repave some areas that are nearly 40-years-old; widen existing shoulders; and improve safety, road alignment and sight distance. Hawkins’ goals are to complete all its tasks within budget, on time and safely.

“We have weekly safety meetings and pretty extensive training,” Crocket says. “Traffic safety has been a key focus, and we have a very good traffic control subcontractor on the job. That is one of our emphases of the weekly safety meetings – to be aware of traffic at all times.”

Hawkins maintains a proprietary Safe Production program on all of its job sites. The company has maintained a 0.53 experience modifier rate for the past three years. Hawkins’ safety team includes a safety manager and risk assessor and the company holds quarterly management safety meetings and weekly field safety meetings. Hawkins says safety is a core component of its success since it contributes to the health and welfare of its workers and those around its work sites. It also keeps client’s cost down.

“Hawkins Construction’s safety record far exceeds the industry average,” the company states. “This means lower insurance costs with our savings passed on to our clients. But most importantly, our EMR represents our commitment to the health and welfare of our employees and others on or around our job sites.”

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