R&L Brosamer Inc.

Contractor R&L Brosamer Inc. will resume its work on the reconstruction of a portion of Interstate 80 running through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 2011. The Walnut Creek, Calif.-based heavy civil construction firm is working on one of eight concurrent construction projects launched by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) last year. R&L Brosamer’s project – valued at $56 million – involves reconstructing 3.6 miles of severely damaged westbound roadway and 6.1 miles of eastbound road.

R&L Brosamer completed work on the westbound stretch last fall, a full season ahead of schedule, Area Manager Rusty Hoseley says. The company will wait out another contractor’s paving of a westbound lane section east of Brosamer’s portion before taking on the eastbound section next year. Construction is expected to resume in April 2011 and conclude that October.

The job calls for 165,000 cubic yards of roadway excavation; 33,000 cubic yards lean concrete; 75,000 cubic yards concrete pavement; 45,000 tons of asphalt pavement; 2,000 linear feet of plastic pipe lining for 16 drainage systems; 4,200 linear feet of cured-in-place pipe lining for 38 drainage systems; 11,000 linear feet of drainage pipe; 30,000 linear feet under-drain pipe; 10,000 tons rock slope protection; 30 sand trap structures; six drainage basins; two bridge slab replacements and polyester overlays; and 27 energy dissipaters.

New Approaches

Crews have used new technologies and equipment, including a dowel bar inserter (DBI). This machine, built by Guntert Zimmerman, connects to the back of a paver and places dowels while paving as opposed to having to set dowel baskets in front of pavers. The DBI makes concrete placement in front of the paver easier and eliminates the cost of baskets, Hoseley says.

The reconstructed roadway features wider concrete shoulders, two new off/on ramps and new drainage systems. The systems use innovative technologies, which result in cleaner water and more efficient drainage away from the roadway and into local streams, creeks and lakes, according to the company.

“I think the new construction is better than the old construction that was there,” Hoseley explains. “The new construction is better and should last longer.”

Taking on Nature

As with a great deal of road construction projects, R&L Brosamer’s biggest challenge is weather conditions. “It’s a very, very short construction season; when you’re working up there, extra (contract) days don’t do you any good,” Hoseley says. “Even after the snow melts, you don’t get a clear summer, because up there in the mountains it rains just about every afternoon.

“Everything up there is very schedule-driven; we work night and day, whatever we have to do to maintain the schedule,” he adds. 

Traffic also poses a challenge. “It’s a main corridor, so there’s a lot of events and a lot of traffic on weekends; it’s just a busy place,” he says.

R&L Brosamer has an in-house safety program, and Caltrans uses the Internet to help communicate safety messages to employees and motorists. “We take safety very seriously on all our projects, not just with workers, but with the traveling public,” Hoseley states.

Experience Counts

R&L Brosamer Inc. was incorporated in 1994 and serves Arizona, California and Nevada. The company specializes in concrete paving, canal lining, airports, bridges, overpasses, underpasses, pump plants, light rail systems infrastructure, highway and freeway widening and resurfacing, sound walls, and retrofitting projects. The company has performed road projects for Caltrans over the past 15 years, Hoseley says.

The company’s road construction experience, including previous projects in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, make it a natural choice for the I-80 project. “We’ve done work up there before; not all who have done work there have been successful at it,” Hoseley says. “You almost have to go up there once just to see what it’s like.”

Compared to other contractors in its market, R&L Brosamer may seem small, but it boasts a close-knit team of longstanding, loyal employees and low turnover. “We’re a big-time contractor that still is very small; the ownership is pretty small, like a family business,” Hoseley says. “People like working for us, and we take care of our people.”

The company enjoys close working relationships with subcontractors. “We have a great relationship with our subcontractors,” Hoseley says. “They know we know what we’re doing, so they like working with us; it makes it fun for everybody when you’re working with someone who knows what they’re doing.”

In addition to working for Caltrans, R&L Brosamer has worked with clients including Los Angeles World Airports, the city of San Jose, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Port of Oakland and the Arizona Department of Transportation.

“The more complicated the job, the better we do at them,” Hoseley says. “We don’t do as well at everyday curb and gutter street jobs. I think we all enjoy the challenge and like the bigger, more exciting work.”

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