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    December 27, 2011
    Salt Lake City’s Airport TRAX Extension: The Largest Continuous Section of Geofoam Fill in the US
    DENVER,CO — In 2008, Construction Management General Contractor Stacy Witbeck startedearly reviewing the preliminary design for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA)’sTRAX airport extension from downtown Salt Lake City valued at $200 million. The light rail extension travels along North Temple to the Salt Lake City International Airport.  The light rail extension travels along North Temple to the Salt Lake City International Airport. At the time of this writing, the extension is 60% complete, with a completion scheduled for summer of 2013.
     
    According to ACH Foam Technologies, each of the two sections is estimated to be larger than any known continuous section of geofoam fill used in the US. “West Valley Light Rail Project was 2,130,000cubic feet. This was installed in 7 different sections, whereas the airport line is 1,890,000 installed in 2 different sections.  Each of the 2 airport line sections tops any other continuous section of geofoam in size,”explained ACH Foam’s Frank Kiesecker. The EPS manufacturer provided Types29  and 39 Geofoam for the bridge approaches in two  sections of equal sizefor a quantity of over one and a half million cubic feet, or 500 truckloads of geofoam. Stacy Witbeck’s Ryan Snow, project manager,explained that it was necessary not only to complete the airport extension under budget and on time; but also that “UTA relied on us to understand thecommunity via public outreach. It was important to make the inconveniences inherent in a project such as the TRAX airport extension--such as road closures and traffic delays—as painless as possible. We set out to find every possible means of efficiency—in cost as well as timeline.” 
     
    Ranked sixth among US transit contractors by Engineering News Record (ENR), the firm rose beyond the UTA’s expectations.   We asked Snow what made this transit project unique. “A portion of the extension from 600 West to 400 West on NorthTemple is a viaduct which crosses over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and the UTA Frontrunner tracks. For this portion of the project we developed a unique team approach we call the Alliance Contracting Method. The UTA, together with the City of Salt Lake, and Stacy Witbeck, worked as a team to identify cost-saving approaches based on our estimated budget. Cost savings identified were split three ways between all members of the alliance agreement. “The Alliance method worked superbly—with a cost savings over 20%.” Snow added that the overall airport extension is currently 5 to 10% under budget. 
     
    How, we asked, did the project save this amount of money? 
     
    “Well, we instituted severalcost-saving measures. Geofoam was installed in the viaduct structure as part ofthe Alliance model. The team evaluated various fill materials and determinedthat geofoam would assist us in keeping on schedule and costs under budget forseveral reasons.” Geofoam weighs in at a whopping 1 to 3 pounds per cubic foot (16 to 48 kg per cubic meter), which is 100 times lighter than soil and 20 to 30 times lighter than other alternative lightweight fill materials. Thisextreme difference in unit weight, compared to other materials, makes EPS geofoam an attractive fill material to significantly accelerate construction schedules. 
    Because geofoam weighs only 16 to 32 kilograms per cubic meter (1 to 3 lbs per cubic foot), large earth moving equipment is not required for construction. After the blocks are delivered to the construction site, theycan easily be trimmed to size and placed by hand. In areas where right-of-wayis limited, geofoam can be constructed vertically and faced, unlike most other lightweight fill alternatives. It is also unaffected by adverse weather conditions.

    “The ease of installation was one aspect of our decision to use geofoam. Settlement was another major concern.When compared to traditional soil fill, we found that the impact of soil settlement on the adjacent Union Pacific Railroad area would be eliminated withthe use of geofoam. While surcharging the ground with soil exerts a lateralload on existing structures, geofoam does not,” said Snow.


    About EPS Geofoam

    Foam-Control® EPS Geofoam is a cellular plastic material that is strong, but has a very low density – 1 percent of traditional earth materials. EPS Geofoam is produced in block form and is easily positioned at the work site. Foam-Control® EPS Geofoam is unaffected by normally occurring weather at the time of installation and will retain its physical properties under engineered conditions of use.

    Learn more about EPS Geofoam Case Studies & Projects.

    About ACH Foam Technologies

    For over four decades ACH Foam Technologies has been an industry leader in EPS manufacturing, providing products for construction, geotechnical, packaging, and industrial applications. With locations throughout the U.S., ACH is positioned to offer convenient, valuable, and complete solutions for its customers. ACH recycles 100% of its post-industrial EPS and is actively involved in recycling post-consumer EPS as well.

    Contact us for more information on ACH Foam Technologies and its products and services.