Drilling contractor completes job others thought impossible.

Work currently is underway to repair a section of State Route 7 (SR7) near Powhatan Point in Belmont County, Ohio, that was damaged in 1998 by the flooding of the Ohio River. Since the flooding, the road has been slowly shifting from its bedrock and slipping toward the river. Over a mile of SR 7 will be relocated approximately 50 feet inland in order to place the highway on stable bedrock and stop the slide activity caused by the flooding in 1998.

But before the road work could commence on re-placing SR 7, one big obstacle had to be overcome – the mountain that runs north alongside of SR 7 had to be cut away to make room inland for the highway.

Getting the Job Done

The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) mandated from the beginning that at least one lane of traffic had to be maintained at all times throughout the entire project, and that the majority of the project had to be constructed while maintaining two lanes of traffic. ODOT also promised travelers that SR 7 traffic would only be stopped for a maximum of 20 minutes during blasting operations to excavate the hillside.

Contractors thinking of bidding the SR 7 project knew that operating within the ODOT regulations would be the key to getting the job done right, but many believed it couldn’t be done without closing the road. ODOT identified the ground conditions on the project site as being freshwater limestone and shale.

The SR 7 contract was awarded to primary contractor Alan Stone Co. of Chesterhill, Ohio, which engaged Heeter Construction of Spencer, W. Va., for the management of drilling and excavating work. Alan Stone subcontracted the blasting work to Mt. State Bit Service Inc. of Morgantown, W. Va.

“Everyone told us that we’d never be able to do the project without closing the road,” says Dave Heeter Jr. of Heeter Construction. “We also had people tell us it was impossible to do a project of this size with our Ingersoll-Rand ECM-660 drills – that we needed larger drills with more power. We proved them wrong. For the last 18 months, our three IR drills have been outrunning our two 10-yard excavators.”

According to Heeter Jr., IR ECM-660s were chosen because the crew can pre-split from bench to bench – on the one-to-one pre-splits with 2,600 square feet, the Heeter Construction crew accomplished 70-foot slope, 50-foot vertical plus production drilling of 6,400 cubic yards. When the job is completed, there will be a total of nine benches. The 37-degree angle achieved on the pre-splits will provide erosion control.

“Our drills have been the most reliable pieces of equipment on the project. We bought these drills brand new just for this project,” explains Heeter Jr. “We keep a regular preventive maintenance service schedule – servicing every 250 hours, replacing all the fluids and filters, up to 1,000 hours, then we start over.

“We’ve only had to call our dealer, Anderson Equipment Co. in Charleston, W. Va., to come out seven times in 18 months to service our equipment. We’ve been very successful on this project, thanks to good management and good equipment.”

The Process

With a lineup of three drills, two excavators, several dozers and one grader, Heeter Construction went to work in August 2001. The crew began the process of drilling a series of 31⁄2-inch blast holes needed to remove a 6,000-foot-long section of the 500-foot mountain running along SR 7.

Burden-in-spacing, the distance between blast holes, is most often determined by the ground conditions of the project site. This time, other factors also were involved in the decision.

According to Heeter Jr., during the mid-1980s, the project had been pre-cut, and the contractor had shot hard, leaving lots of voids in the rock. So, the Heeter Construction crews proceeded with caution, choosing to drill smaller holes, with tighter spacing – 31⁄2-inch pre-split holes and 41⁄2-inch production holes with 10-foot spacing, which provides a more uniform break in the rock. The smaller-sized holes also help the crew control the outward blast.

Once the holes were drilled, the Mt. State Bit Service team came in and loaded the holes, using a combination of ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) and diesel fuel called ANFO, and blasted. As soon as the dust settled, the Heeter Construction team immediately moved in with excavators and began the cleanup process.

Mandating that Heeter Construction crews establish a “fall zone” behind the road to stop blasting debris, ODOT dictated that blasting could only occur during daylight hours – no blasting could take place within 20 minutes of sundown. Heeter Construction also maintained a clean “catch bench” at all times so that debris never would become an issue.

Moving Material

"During peak production, the crews shot up to three times a day,” Heeter Jr. notes. “Near the end of the project, we’ve only been blasting once a day – at noon, when there was the least amount of traffic. Our biggest shot was 800 holes that covered 50,000 yards.”

ODOT notified emergency response services in the area when blasting would occur and regulated the schedule to minimize disruption. ODOT had inspectors on-site at all times during the project.

In peak production, Heeter Construction was running two crew shifts, 50 employees, on six 10-hour days, moving 30,000 yards a day with two excavators and nine trucks (60-ton and 100-ton sizes). As the project nears completion, Heeter Construction has gone down to running two shifts four days a week, moving 12,000 yards a day with one excavator. According to Heeter Jr., the trucks were rated to remove 40 yards per load – an average load weighed approximately 112 tons.

The original bid was for Heeter Construction to remove 2,500 cubic yards, but the final amount of material to be removed came to approximately 6,500 cubic yards. The total project of moving the mountain took close to 21 months. The road building crews of Alan Stone Co. will start once Heeter Construction is finished with the excavation work.

The entire SR 7 project is expected to be completed by July 2003.

Right the First Time

Heeter Construction has been established in the earthmoving/heavy construction market for 34 years. The company is a family business, owned by David Heeter Sr., and provides a variety of services, including the construction of earthen dams, roller-compacted concrete dams, earth levees and land fills, highways and commercial site development as well as other miscellaneous projects.

With a well-deserved reputation for completing projects ahead of schedule, the majority of Heeter Construction projects are completed in less than 50 percent of the allocated contract time. The company prides itself in being able to determine the resources necessary to complete the job in an efficient manner and having all of those resources available at the start of the job.

Heeter Construction provides personal superintendence to the work on each project site – by being personally involved in the day-to-day work, crews are better able to anticipate and be prepared for any and all eventualities. And, Heeter Construction takes pride in its work. The company motto is “Do it right the first time!” n

Amber Reed is a public relations specialist for Two Rivers Marketing Group, Des Moines, Iowa. This article is provided through the courtesy of Ingersoll-Rand, Davidson, N.C.

Project Profile

Contractor: Heeter Construction of Spencer, West Virginia

Client: Ohio Department of Transportation

Application: Drilling blast holes and excavating materials for SR 7 highway project along the Ohio River to remove a 6,000-foot long section of the 500-foot mountain running along SR 7.

Hole size: 31⁄2-inch pre-split and 41⁄2 -inch production holes

Depth: One-on-one pre-splits of 70-foot slope, 50-foot vertical plus production drilling of 6.4M cubic yards, at a 37-degree angle

Formation: Freshwater limestone and shale

Rig type: Three Ingersoll-Rand ECM-660 crawler drills

Length of project: 21 months (Started August 2001, completed April 2003)