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M-37 Phase I: Sherman Hill

June 22, 2013

Challenge: Large excavation quantities in a short period of time. Delayed start due to late spring. Altering pavement grade of a large highway segment.
Solution: Work multiple shifts (including nighttime hours) to move material in short time frame. Coordination with subcontractors and MDOT officials.

Owner: Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)
Contract Owner: $5,392,775
Design Engineer: Del Kirkby, MDOT
Location: Mesick, Michigan
Date Started: April 15, 2013
Date Completed: June 22, 2013
Partners: Diane Dukes Inc., Give-em-a-Brake, Martin J. Concrete, P.K. Contracting
Self-Performed: 84%

Take a drive down M-37, past Buckley and North of Mesick, and you’ll see some of the latest Team Elmer’s handiwork. The Michigan Department of Transportation wanted to a reconstruct a section of the two-lane highway, in order to reduce overall pavement grade and boost traffic safety, and Team Elmer’s got the job.

The stretch of road is known as “Sherman Hill,” a sequence of sharp highway curves, steep slopes, and treacherous pavement angles in great need of an overhaul. Elmer’s began the project early in 2013, taking up residence at Sherman Hill between mid-April and late June. In those weeks, Elmer’s worked to re-construct the stretch of road in accordance with new specifications and MDOT-engineered plans. MDOT needed Elmer’s to reduce the road’s steep grade and provide for straighter, safer traffic, and thanks to a late arrival of spring weather, the timeline for the project was affected.

Team Elmer’s adapted accordingly, working tirelessly—sometimes straight through the night—to deconstruct the old road, implement grade alterations and slope changes, and re-pave the stretch in time for summer traffic. The project started with trees being removed and hauled offsite for repurposing. In just 12 days, Team Elmer’s moved the majority of the project’s 275,000 yards of materials. That is a football field thirteen stories tall! By the time Elmer’s wrapped up work on Sherman Hill, the environment looked pristine and clean, and the road was safer than it had been in years.

Team Elmer's is an active participant in value engineering projects, including redesigning storm sewer on M-37 Sherman Hill. Originally, plans called for storm sewer depths upwards of 30' deep near the Manistee River. However, Team Elmer's was able to reduce the schedule by 10 days without increasing costs, even while paving an additional 3.3 miles of M-37 roadway concurrent to the original project lane closure prior to detour removal, saving MDOT time and money.

In place of the old Sherman Hill’s treacherous 12% grade and its winding S-curve layout, the revamped stretch boasts only a 7% grade and a straight alignment, two changes that will undoubtedly lower the location’s reputation for auto accidents.

The Sherman Hill work is only phase one of a larger MDOT project concerning M-37, which will also reconstruct the Wexford County M-115/M-37 junction, add a roundabout in Mesick, and resurface three miles of the highway stretching from M-115 to 10 Road. The second phase is expected to begin on August 12 and continue through October.

By the Numbers

  • 9.58 acres of clearing and recycling trees
  • 274,793 cubic yards of earth excavation (one football field, 13 stories tall)
  • 6,900 lineal feet of stilt fence for erosion control
  • 5,430 lineal feet of straw wattle for restoration and erosion control
  • 29,869 ton aggregate base
  • 1,363 pounds of grate to cover the culvert end section
  • 2,012 lineal feet of 15 - 24 inch diameter culverts
  • 4,758 lineal feet of 18 - 48 inch diameter storm sewer pipe
  • 1 drain structure with a 10-foot diameter and a depth of more than 15 feet
  • 34,851 tons of hot mix asphalt (3E3, 3E10, 4E3, approaches and shoulders)

Click here to download a PDF version of "M-37 Phase I: Sherman Hill"



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