Discovery Parkway Extension: Constructing the Missing Link

Jessica Claas | Thursday February 3, 2022
Share:

As employee-owners, we take pride in everything we do. Every project we estimate and construct is important. After all, we’re building our nation’s infrastructure. We are connecting and growing communities by providing enhanced roadway systems that are bigger, smoother, and safer. But every once in a while, a project comes along that makes you puff out your chest a little farther. One that you build to honor a legacy. The Discovery Parkway Extension was one of these projects.

After more than a decade of planning, the extension of Discovery Parkway was put out for bid by the City of Columbia, Missouri for public bidding. This long-awaited project creates a new critical thoroughfare in southeast Columbia, completing a missing link between two major freeway interchanges, one at I-70 and one at US 63. In fact, it has the distinction of being the largest green field roadway expansion project the City of Columbia has released for bidding in over five years. To say it was an important project is an understatement. But why were so many employee-owners honored to make this project come to life? 

​​“This was a passion project of the late Justin Gay, Executive Vice President of Operations. He was adamant about Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS) winning and constructing this work,” said Project Manager, Matt Oesch. “It provides me great honor to say we are fulfilling that dream and carrying-out the legacy he strived to develop and has left behind.” 

Fulfilling that dream started with our estimating teams turning in an extremely competitive bid. ESS won the $4.4-million project by less than a 1% margin. Competitive doesn’t always mean proficient, however, this project was estimated exceptionally well, giving ESS the opportunity to be successful in the field.

The project’s scope consisted of a strong blend of the multi-faceted scopes ESS excels at, including mass grading, installing an extensive storm sewer network, completing underground utility relocations, a large box culvert install, concrete paving on streets and pedways, and constructing a pair of two-span overpass bridges. This allowed for 92% of the project to be self-performed.

ESS set self-determined key project milestones and are planned to reach substantial completion several months ahead of schedule. One of those key milestones included completing all paving and bridge scopes in 2021. This was achieved with three weeks to spare.

Careful planning, extensive coordination, and innovative processes made this possible. The project was graded, trimmed, and paved using 100% stringless technology, allowing us to increase productivity by eliminating traditional grading and pavement staking. Joining our fleet just a few months earlier, we utilized a new Miller Formless Variable-Width Paver to place both the 31-foot curbed mainline roadway and the 8-foot pedestrian trail. The project specifications called for steel to be placed in the pedestrian trail. Scott Smith, Paving Superintendent, realized we could utilize stringless technology and the new paver to place thicker pavement, eliminating the steel in the pedestrian trail. Working with the owner, ESS was able to provide an alternative technical concept that decreased labor and increased the speed at which the trail was paved. 

Project Superintendent, Nate Cunningham, also worked with the owner to execute his plan that would accelerate the schedule while creating safer working conditions for our employee-owners. By reconfiguring the north tie-in, ESS was able to complete this work in a three-day window under closed roadway conditions rather than dragging it out over many days of partial lane closures under traffic.

Residents and commuters through southeast Columbia aren’t the only ones benefiting from the new Discovery Parkway extension. The University of Missouri (MU) has big plans for the parkway. As it continues to expand its NextGen Precision Health research program, the area will offer potential future building sites for this initiative that focuses on cancer, vascular, and neurological diseases.

This project was also designed with the MU Agriculture Research Department in mind. By providing two overpasses that connect research properties, MU can access fields and facilities within their large footprint without driving large farm service vehicles on the new roadway. In addition, a cattle crossing was created with the installation of a 9-foot by 12-foot box culvert at a strategic location between research pastures. This allows livestock to, quite literally, get to the other side of the parkway safely and conveniently.

A project of this size doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. Rainy weather in the early months of the project threatened to delay production, and coordinating utility relocations between five different entities demanded constant communication between all parties. One of the more complicated aspects of the project involved the logistics of supplying enough concrete to the Discovery Parkway project while still maintaining material supplies to the other projects in Columbia. 

“With its location being strategically located between multiple residential and commercial developments currently under construction by ESS, we were able to use one paver to complete both the Discovery Parkway project and the Lenoir Drive project concurrently,” expressed Scott Smith, Paving Superintendent. “As always, our team performed beyond expectations, and a big shout out goes out to the crews run by Josh Wisdom, Frank Tougaw, and Brandon Clark.”

Bridge Foreman, Dustin Harre, was also proud of the work his crews performed on the project. “We were able to construct both bridge substructures simultaneously and set the girders on both bridges in the same week. This was all the more impressive because we had to work around the scrapers that were grading the parkway very close to our structures. By waiting our turn and alternating sides with the grading activity, we were able to continue our progress.”

Impressed with the manner in which ESS has handled these challenges, Construction Project Superintendent for the Public Works Department of the City of Columbia, Vineet Kapila, said, “ESS has been professional to work with and has promptly addressed any concerns brought up by the City of Columbia. The project is currently ahead of our completion deadline, and we’re very excited about the opportunities this parkway will provide.”

“The project has been a great demonstration of the multi-facet capabilities of ESS and our strength within this local market,” remarked Matt Oesch. “Discovery Parkway is on track to be completed ahead of schedule and under budget, all thanks to the hard work and dedication displayed by the talented crews of men and women here at ESS.”

In less than eight months, our team of employee-owners completely transformed a greenway corridor of pastures and cropland into a new parkway. A project that was just as important to the City of Columbia as it was to our employee-owners. Taking pride in everything we do is the norm here at ESS, but it’s an honor to say, this one’s for you, JG. 

Please thank the following crews for working collectively to complete this project early, while maintaining the level of quality and innovation that makes us best in class.

Lead Estimators: Bryant Vessell and Curtis Shuman
Project Superintendent: Nate Cunningham
Paving Superintendent: Scott Smith
Bridge Foreman: Dustin Harre
Grading Foreman: Conner Brooks
Paving Foremen: Josh Wisdom, Brandon Clark, Frank Tougaw
Utilities Foremen: Nathan Hill, Lucas Caldwell, Dylan Burke

Where are the number nerds out there? These stats are for you. 😎

108,000 CY of Excavation
27,140 SY of 9” PCCP Concrete Paving
60,705 SF of 8’ Pedway Trail
7,000 LF of Storm Sewer
50 Storm Structures
130 LF of 9’x12’ Box Culvert
2 Bridge Installations – Two Span 198’ Long Slab on NU Girder Bridges