Maze repair: How did they do it so quickly?

The construction company hired to rebuild the eastbound Interstate 580 overpass sliced through red tape to approve designs faster, mobilized hundreds of contractors and used readily available materials to finish the overpass in just 18 days, well before the June 27 deadline set by the state.

With the major work completed, workers for the Rancho Cordova-based C.C. Myers Inc. are now waiting for the 200 cubic yards of concrete poured Sunday to cure under a plastic and burlap cover. The curing process is expected to finish tonight. After that, the pavement will be striped, the site cleaned and the interstate opened to traffic by 5 a.m. Friday.

While the rapid pace of the project has some drivers worried about safety, Caltrans and C.C. Myers Inc. officials have said the new interstate is secure.

“We didn't cut any corners,” said Peter Strykers, a senior bridge engineer with Caltrans, which oversees state highways.

More than 40 tests have already been conducted to test the strength of the new concrete deck. The interstate could have been opened earlier, Strykers said, but C.C. Myers Inc. wanted the concrete to cure for 96 hours.

The overpass β€” which is part of the heavily traveled MacArthur Maze used by 75,000 drivers each day β€” was essentially rebuilt like a massive jigsaw puzzle. It was destroyed the morning of April 29 when a gasoline tanker traveling on southbound I-880 crashed into a guardrail and spilled 8,600 gallons of gasoline. The resulting fire caused the I-580 overpass above to collapse onto I-880. The damaged portion of I-880 reopened to vehicle traffic nine days after the explosion.

Work on I-580 began May 8, a few hours after Caltrans awarded C.C. Myers Inc. the $867,075 contract that included a $5 million bonus. The company mobilized 300 people, including ironworkers, carpenters, cement masons and operating engineers, for the project.

Strykers estimated about 150 people worked onsite, while another 150 people worked behind the scenes on designs. C.C. Myers Inc. required all designs to be reviewed within 24 hours β€” significantly speeding up procedures that would normally take weeks.

“We were on our phone with people all hours of the night,” Strykers said.

Officials say the new structure is as safe as the original. It’s even more fire resistant, Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus said.

Under the contract with Caltrans, the company receives an additional $200,000 for each day the project was completed before deadline, up to $5 million. The company will receive the entire $5 million bonus, Haus said.

arocha@examiner.com

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