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Connecting Sections of North Georgia Interstates

By the mid-1970s most of Georgia’s interstate highway system had been completed. Four important sections remained unfinished: I-20 from the Alabama state line to Douglasville; I-75 from Marietta to Cartersville; I-85 north of LaGrange; and I-16 in Emmanuel, Candler, and Bulloch counties.

Several firms worked simultaneously on I-20 west of Atlanta: Southeastern Highway Contracting Company of Gainesville, Shepherd Construction Company, and Nello L. Teer Construction Co.

Torrential rains in 1976 and a high amount of groundwater plagued all of the contractors, completely shutting down work on I-20 at times. Between Douglasville and Villa Rica, soil and rock formations had formed underground streams near the surface that had to be diverted away with plastic drainpipes in the roadbed.

Daniel Contracting Company subcontracted to move much of the dirt, and with a fleet of more than seventy Caterpillar dozers, pushers, pans, and other equipment, moved more than a million cubic yards of dirt.

Charles Daniel’s company was the first in Georgia to use a Caterpillar dual DDG9, also known as a Quad-Nine. Two D9Gs were coupled, one behind the other, with a single set of controls in the front unit so both machines could be manipulated by a single operator. The topography of west Georgia was rolling hills, with cuts and fills averaging fifty feet. Those cuts and fills were well balanced, however, so there was very little spoil remaining.

Over in Cobb County, where Shepherd was building a section of I-75, the same heavy rains forced the contractor to adjust on many workdays. When low areas turned into mud ponds, the grading superintendent moved his Caterpillar scrapers, dozers, and loaders to higher ground. Shepherd moved about 19,000 cubic yards of earth a day with two Caterpillar D7 dozers, six Cat® 631 pans, a 14G grader, and two D9 dozers.

Shepherd ran into rock along the way as well, blasting and excavating to use the stone in fills. Four Cat® 769 end dump trucks were loaded by Cat® 988 front-end loaders.

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