NovaChip on Drummond Island, MI

Read on to learn about Midland’s recent job on the beautiful Drummond Island and the unique challenges that come with putting a paver on a ferry.

In the beginning of 2022 Payne + Dolan reached out to Midland for a job on an island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Ryan McKerrow, NovaChip foreman, and his crew, with the assistance of Jon Brumbaugh, Midland superintendent, traveled north to pave the section of M-134 for the Michigan DOT.

In order to complete the job, there were a few logistical issues to work out along the way. Chief among them was getting the equipment to the island. The first challenge was getting across the Mackinac Bridge, which only provided two half hour windows per day for oversized loads to cross. Secondly, the remote Drummond Island is only vehicle accessible by ferry. This meant all equipment had to be transported via a ferry boat. The NovaChip paver had to be unloaded from its trailer and driven on the ferry separately to cross over to the island.

Since all materials had to be ferried to the island by boat, emulsion deliveries had to be carefully scheduled. Payne and Dolan’s onsite foreman, Kendall Plant, was incredible and worked directly with James Geyer, the ferry boat captain, to coordinate this large project. The ferry boat captain gave Midland trucks priority and kept the supply chain continuous throughout the entire job.

The interaction of ferry traffic and multiple axle live bottom trucks delivering the mix likewise presented new challenges. The road needed to be paved right up to the ferry docks. However, it was impossible to shut down the road due to ferry traffic to and from the island. The trucks delivering the mix could not turn around loaded, so it was decided to pave the entire road in one direction. Starting at the ferry dock and paving against traffic one day and then matching up the next, paving with traffic in an alternating pattern until the job was complete.

Additionally, the ferry could only deliver two loaded trucks per trip at 50 tons per truck which dictated the pace and flow of work. A crew member also had to be dedicated to emulsion supply to the paver and storage from the delivery trucks. Joe Spayer from Mark Young’s Nova crew volunteered to make the trip and assist Ryan’s crew by filling this role.

Ryan and his crew did an outstanding job negotiating these new and unique challenges, all while appreciating the specificities of island living. Their professionalism and unwavering dedication to quality is amongst the highest in the industry. Our Midland NovaChip crews continue to be successful whether at home or at a distance, no matter the challenges that may be presented.

 -Jon Brumbaugh, Assistant Superintendent