A New Road Opens New Opportunities For Growth

January 07, 2020

The Veterans Memorial Highway in South Central Ohio (also known as Route 823/Portsmouth Bypass) is 16 miles of new highway, which reduces commuting time while also opening up opportunities for economic growth and commerce. As the largest single transportation project in the State of Ohio’s history, it was also Ohio’s first true public-private partnership (P3). Construction of the $634 million project began in 2015 and was completed on schedule in December 2018.


Aerial view, Veterans Memorial Highway

The company of record enlisted Terracon for our expertise in quality control and quality management. Not only is it unusual to complete 16 miles of new roadway in a single phase, nearly 23 million cubic yards of Appalachian mountain earth had to be cleared and moved first, cutting as deep as 200 feet into the rock. Our quality control technicians monitored the placement of this material into the valleys to build road, or back into the terrain. We also evaluated the cut slopes, providing the risk rating for the exposed rockface consisting of shale, sandstone, and clay stones.

Working seamlessly with the P3 team, we also helped design, develop, and provide quality control for the materials used in the 21 bridges needed to complete the bypass, more than half of which required mechanically stabilized earth (MSE) walls for support. In all, 300,000 square feet of MSE walls were built. In addition to the MSE walls, there were numerous structures and substructures for bridges, as well as culverts, that required verification of the specified material and foundation installations. Terracon reviewed and performed testing on the reinforcing steel and formwork prior to concrete placement. In the three years of the project, more than 13,000 material reports were provided, illustrating the complexity and wide scope of the project. Safety was always a priority during the project’s duration, which was demonstrated by Terracon reporting zero recordable injuries.


A project of this magnitude required significant (and trusted) manpower. Our team was equipped to send 22 quality control technicians and inspectors from multiple locations (including Cincinnati, Columbus, Charleston, Cleveland, and Lexington) to assist, and by project completion, more than 100 Terracon employees were involved. With the flexibility and resources to meet changing needs throughout the project, Terracon provided the resources and creative problem-solving required to make this complex project a success.

In addition to Terracon’s team, we partnered with “Ohio Means Jobs” within the State of Ohio’s Office of Workforce Development to bolster the project workforce by hiring local materials technicians and providing on-the-job training. This investment in the community benefited all involved.

Responding to supplemental engineering or additional approved scope changes during the life of this project allowed our team to demonstrate the partnership and flexibility needed to keep the work moving. Terracon was glad to contribute to this history-making roadway, while facilitating economic growth with new, easier access, and a safer alternative route.

Matt Lehmenkuler

Matt Lehmenkuler, P.E. is a project manager at Terracon’s Cincinnati office specializing in large project construction materials quality control. Matt joined Terracon in 2014 prior to his graduation from the University of Cincinnati with his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering.


Jason Sander Jason Sander, P.E., is senior vice president and national director for Materials Engineering Services, based in Terracon’s Cincinnati office. With the company since 1995, he was previously regional manager for Terracon’s Cincinnati and Lexington, Ky., offices.

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