Here at Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS), we have built a reputation for completing award-winning projects. Projects such as the I-44 Bridge Rebuild Design-Build and I-70 & I-435 Interchange are a testament to that reputation. These two projects recently won Associated General Contractors (AGC) Construction Keystone Awards and Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) Heart of America Chapter Excellence in Construction Awards. We would like to congratulate everyone who was involved with these two projects on their hard work and accomplishments. ESS would not have earned this reputation without you!
On November 4, the I-44 Bridge Rebuild Design-Build project earned a Heart of America Excellence in Construction Award in the Speciality Category at the 2021 Excellence in Construction Awards Banquet at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. On that same night, this project also won a Construction Keystone Award at the AGC Construction Awards Gala in St. Louis, Missouri. This monumental $31.5 million dollar reconstruction and replacement project had some stiff competition but came out on top at both events.
The I-44 Bridge Rebuild Design-Build project consisted of the reconstruction and replacement of 19 bridges along Interstate 44 from Springfield, Missouri to Joplin, Missouri. Of those 19 bridges, four were completely removed, four were overlaid, and 11 were completely rebuilt in a span of 18 months. According to Quality Control Technician Kyle Smith, that’s what made this project exceptional.
This stretch of I-44 is one of the heaviest traveled corridors in the country for freight traffic and is a very popular commuter route, seeing over 40,000 vehicles per day. While this project presented several other hurdles to overcome, the biggest was managing this extreme volume of traffic. Our dynamic team’s proposal included replacing 13 bridges and rehabilitating six more, which is more than any other contractor proposed.
What exactly made this project award-winning? If you ask Jeremy Bexten, Estimator and Project Manager of the I-44 Bridge Rebuild, he would say that it was the team. “We didn’t stop with ‘good enough, or that’s what we always do.’ We kept thinking outside our comfort zone and developed an award-winning solution and project.”
Similar to the I-44 Bridge Rebuild project, the I-70 & I-435 Interchange project was also a massive reconstruction project. With a price tag of $48 million dollars, this project transformed one of the busiest areas of Kansas City, Missouri’s highway system. We are proud to say this project also earned both ABC Heart of America Excellence in Construction and AGC Keystone Awards.
The ESS project team, led by Project Manager Donnie Stevenson, and Project Superintendents Trampus Tuggle and Mike Crane, successfully rebuilt the previously existing clover stack interchange into the first partial turbine interchange design constructed in the state – pretty cool, huh? The interchange sits adjacent to two of Kansas City’s most well-known attractions, Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums. Coupled with the busy championship football season happening during the heart of this project, with over 42,000 vehicles each game day, and over 200,000 vehicles using the interchange daily, this project demanded urgency. The biggest challenge with this project according to Project Manager Donnie Stevenson was the aggressive schedule that had to be met.
This project included the demolition of four existing structures over I-70 that required the complete closure of I-70 from Highway 291 to I-435 over a few weekends. It also included 10 full bridge replacements, removal of left exits, and major infrastructure improvements to loop ramp configuration. Crews moved over 800,000 CY of material and placed 120,000 SY of concrete pavement all while having minimal impact on the over 200,000 vehicles that used the interchange daily. ESS and teams were proud to bring best-in-class quality, innovation, and safety to this impressive pursuit.
Donnie Stevenson said that what made this project award-winning was the complexity of the interchange. “It was the first and only partial turbine interchange ever constructed in Missouri, and was accomplished while over 200,000 vehicles a day traveled through the work zone.”
It is a pretty big accomplishment to have two different projects win two different awards in just one night. Shoutout to everyone who was involved with both of these projects. You all deserve a pat on the back! So, the next time you make the trip to Arrowhead or Kauffman stadiums or find yourself driving along the stretch of I-44 from Springfield to Joplin, you can feel proud knowing that ESS was responsible for building these two award-winning projects.