Interstate 10 Crossing at CSX Railroad Levee Reach

Project Scope

Barriere Construction was chosen by Corps of Engineers to raise Interstate 10 at the CSX Railroad Levee by 18’, to maintain the wall of earth and concrete protecting metro New Orleans. The project called for a temporary asphalt roadway between the current passageways, lined with a MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) Wall. The temporary roadway was to be raised and paved in one direction, then demolished and rebuilt to divert traffic in the other direction.

Barriere removed one phase of construction by elevating the temporary roadway, using the same MSE Wall technology designed to protect the roadway. Since the temporary roadway was raised to the final height of 18’, it did not need to be demolished twice, saving over $1 million and 30 days of work. This solution positioned the fast-tracked project to meet the Corps’ deadline of June 1, 2011, to have the area protected from a 100-year storm.

The project called for a temporary bridge, which Barriere constructed using the client’s Acrobridge. (This military-grade, modular construction system provided access to New Orleans on I-10 immediately following Hurricane Katrina.) It was assembled on land in 10’ sections, then pushed out onto 140’ H-pilings already in place. Barriere personnel noticed numerous cracks in the system’s supports and suggested these be replaced before installation. Since Barriere was responsible for the temporary bridge’s maintenance, connection pieces were checked weekly from underneath the bridge.

Barriere completed the levee near the roadway by clearing land; laying fabric; adding sand, more fabric, and wick drains every 5’ to pull out ground water; and topped it with 30,000+ cubic
yards of clay.

Barriere’s value engineering and proactive thinking resulted in a project cost savings of approximately $1 million, allowing the client to apply $800,000 to new materials, which provided a safer driving surface for the public and less liability for the client.

Overcoming Challenges & Teamwork

Awards Won

ABC Bayou, Gold Award, 2011
ABC Pelican, Award of Merit, 2011
Greater New Orleans Business Roundtable, Culture of Excellence Award, 2011

Since the Corps of Engineers fast-tracked this project to raise levee protection to 100-year storm standards by the deadline of June 1, 2011, the project (awarded in April 2010), had little room for delays. Barriere would need to be proactive in meeting the deadline, while staying under budget. Because of this urgency, a test track for pilings was not completed and specifications were over-designed for the bridge, which made piles difficult and more time-consuming to drive. Also, pile driving was restricted to Friday and Saturday nights, because machinery movement/clearance and safety zones required two of the three lanes of traffic be blocked. On most nights, Barriere was only able to drive 2 full pilings, which consisted of two 70’ pilings welded together in place. The welding alone took 1-2 hours. To drive pilings into the ground at a specific spot, Barriere created a template that hung from the bridges flanking the temporary bridge. This template also served as a work area, which allowed crews to have a stable area beneath them, rather than working from a boat or barge.

The project required work over water and around 70+ mile-per-hour traffic which placed restrictions on work time and lane closures for Barriere’s trucks hauling jobsite materials. Westbound lanes could only close between
7 PM–9 AM and eastbound lanes between 3 PM–6 AM. To accommodate this, all asphalt paving and striping was performed at night, to have minimal impact on traffic and for the safety of work crews.

While Barriere worked on the roadway, another construction company was working on levees nearby to build them to 100-year storm levels. This required the two companies to share access roads and coordinate their trucks hauling materials through the narrow passage. As such, Barriere contacted the other company to work out a mutually-beneficial plan for truck movement and to offer ideas and suggestions for coordinating and communicating
this movement.


Project Statistics

Total Hours – 8,300 hours
Days Worked – 390 of allotted 450 days
Total Client Savings – $1 million
Total Cost – $17.2 million

Safety is always paramount in Barriere’s project planning, and this project had unique hazards, including working
on water, mostly at night, while traffic zoomed by at over 70 MPH in each direction, regardless of construction work zone signage.

Barriere created a site-specific safety program in conjunction with their quality control program. Each shift started with a TAR (Task Assessment Review) Sheet, implemented company-wide in 2010, to review daily tasks at hand, spotlight and discuss challenges, and overcome safety concerns. During this review, all team members, including sub-contractors, could voice concerns and offer suggestions. Because of the jobsite’s proximity to water, Barriere required Type 3 vests for 100% of the job. This was above project requirements that only required vests while near or on the water.

To increase safety for the driving public, road closure areas for trucks hauling jobsite materials were extended past the required measurements, to ensure trucks could fully accelerate before entering public traffic lanes.

In an effort to constantly improve construction and safety methods, Barriere videoed their work, so that supervisors could review for safety concerns and near misses. These videos will also be used as how-to guides for future projects. Although safety measures were in place, one crew member slipped on the temporary bridge and was slightly injured by his safety harness, which caused minimal lost time.

Finally, Barriere uses an aggressive equipment management system, called TPR (Total Process Reliability). The program schedule includes planned maintenance, notification for small repairs, and a commitment to maintain safe, reliable equipment in the field. This management program ensures the project machinery is in good, working order, which increases efficiency and reduces the risk of injury due to mechanical problems.


Barriere exceeded all measurements, including tolerance for the pile driving, asphalt compaction tests, and smoothness ratings. The team also achieved all quality goals and did not have to replace any faulty materials. Barriere also suggested the client replace cracked portions of the Acrobridge system that were being reused from a previous project.

All asphalt mix designs and material testing were done at Barriere’s state-of-the-art testing lab. Barriere’s lab is the only contractor-owned, AASHTO certified lab in the State of Louisiana.

Innovation & Contribution to the Industry/Community

Although road construction in general is not known for innovation, Barriere offered numerous innovations and value engineering initiatives on this project. The primary change, suggested in the pre-construction meeting, utilized the MSE (Mechanically Stabilized Earth) Wall to support the temporary road, rather than merely protecting the temporary road, while the main road was being elevated to 18’. This change removed an entire phase of the project, because the elevated temporary roadway could be used in both directions instead of building two temporary roads, which resulted in a $1 million savings, while reducing project time by 30 days. Barriere had so much confidence in this proposed idea, they hired an outside engineer to prove the concept and refine the details while crews worked on flat areas of the project.

For the community, Barriere’s #1 goal was to achieve substantial completion before the June 1st start of hurricane season. Also, Barriere limited all lane closures to times with reduced traffic flow, and rarely had traffic back up because of construction, even during double-lane closures. Barriere seeded the grass and worked with a nearby construction company to share haul routes, to minimize their impact on the environment. All asphalt and concrete removed from the road decks was recycled to be reused on future projects; some was even used near the water to protect from erosion. Barriere utilizes the maximum amount of recycled asphalt allowed by the DOTD
on all paving projects.