The Sundt Experience: December 2016

Sundt Expands its Operations in Salt Lake City


Salt Lake City Area Manager Larry Luke.

We recently increased our presence in Utah by opening an office in Salt Lake City. The expansion will help support our ongoing work in the region while making our services available to the state’s growing economic needs.

Larry Luke is serving as the office’s Area Manager and is forming partnerships with clients and subcontractors in the region. Sixty percent of Utah’s residents live in the Salt Lake Valley and the state’s population is estimated to increase 19 percent by 2020, from 2.77 million to 3.31 million.

Larry recently spent a few minutes talking about our office in Northern Utah and our many qualifications and innovative approaches to project delivery.

What are Utah’s strengths as a market?

Utah has a growing economy and population that has created a steady need for new infrastructure in the areas in which Sundt operates (Transportation, Industrial and Building). Utah has a healthy economy, balanced state budget and the ability to either self-fund projects or obtain either federal or private-market funding. The owners are not only programming and funding new construction projects but they also have a reputation for treating contractors fairly and believe in partnering. Public market owners, such as the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Utah Transit Authority and counties and cities, and private markets have projects that are either in the planning phase, design phase or already scheduled to be advertised.

From a personnel perspective, Salt Lake City is an area where many people want to live due to the proximity to recreational opportunities, strong family atmosphere and relatively low cost of living.

Sundt participates in joint ventures on many projects. What kind of expertise are we bringing to JVs in the Salt Lake market?

Sundt is known in our industry for being not only a long-standing reputable company with a strong balance sheet, but also one with excellent experience on a variety of projects. Through our people, we are also known for being an innovator and leader in Construction Manager General Contractor (CMGC), and use of technology for 3D modeling, virtual design and construction, use of automated machine control, parametric estimating, and design-build value engineering. Owners like UDOT have been on the forefront of CMGC projects, design-build, accelerated bridge construction and intelligent design and construction (IDC). We believe Sundt’s strengths in these areas will make us stand out and be able to offer joint-venture partners and owners a value that is unique from other local contractors.

What are Sundt’s strategies for developing good subcontractor relationships there?

Like any other local market, it is important to have personal relationships with our subcontractors and suppliers and show them that Sundt will treat them fairly, pay timely, honor fair bidding and price-evaluation practices and include them as partners in project planning.

What trends do you see in the Salt Lake market?

We will continue to see an emphasis on value-based selections such as CMGC and design-build, especially for projects greater than $75 million. UDOT is interested in developing its IDC process and evolving the design and contractors into utilizing 3D electronic design files to replace paper plan sheets as legal construction documents. I think we will also see more opportunities that involve a combination of Transportation, Industrial or Building. For example, the upcoming Salt Lake prison or Utah Transit Authority Mountain Accord project, development of ski resort expansion projects or local cities’ needs for water improvement projects.

Goats Find Greener Pastures at Sellwood Bridge Project

Sellwood 3

Five dozen goats helped clear brush at the project site.


Many sustainable features were used during Sellwood Bridge construction in Portland, Oregon. Some of them even had four legs.

More than 60 goats were used to chew brush on the site, a green initiative undertaken by the joint venture to eliminate waste generated by humans thinning the thicket by hand. The City of Portland asked the team to clear the trail on the east side of the Willamette River on the $228 million project.

The lively livestock spent a couple of weeks onsite in October and are returning in the spring to chomp on blackberry vines. No kidding.

The animals are owned by Goat Power, a husband and wife who travel the Willamette Valley with their four-legged friends in a refurbished bus. The goats go from one job to the next, working months at a time.

Sellwood goats 2Other green initiatives were used on the project:

*The bridge was constructed in accordance with the Greenroads sustainability rating system for transportation projects, including LED bulbs in the luminaires, separate pedestrian and bike signals at intersections, addition of two water-treatment swales, improvement of existing nature trails frequented by cyclists and pedestrians and all native plants, trees and seeds for landscaping.

*Pilings were removed during an in-water work window of July 10 to Oct. 15 so salmon swimming through the Willamette River wouldn’t be disturbed.

*The truss was taken down in nine pieces and floated downriver to be processed and sold on the open market as scrap commodity for the production of new steel. The four main sections, measuring 200 feet apiece, were lowered onto a barge using four 250-ton strand jacks. Each took approximately a week to remove.

Remaining smaller sections above each temporary bent were hoisted onto a barge using a derrick crane. Once the shoofly truss and substructure were dismantled, a marine subcontractor removed the 80-pipe pile from the river.

*The arches are made of weathering steel. While the mechanical properties are similar to other structural steels, weathering steel has a unique alloy content that causes it to form a durable oxide coating (rust). The oxide film that forms on the surface of the steel is very dense, and after the rust fully matures, it becomes more impervious to further corrosion.

After the steel was installed on the bridge, it quickly developed a bright orange rust, which gradually became a deep brown. The rust serves as a protective coating for the structure.

Left unprotected, conventional steel is slowly destroyed by the natural oxidation process and a common method of protecting the steel is to use paint. Using weathering steel eliminates the need for a protective paint system.

Work on Sellwood Bridge was completed in late November.

Case Study: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Embry-Riddle dome 3

The 220-piece dome was assembled on the ground before being lifted into place.

The project

The Sundt team is adding a 52,570-square-foot facility at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campus in Prescott, Arizona. The building will house classrooms, laboratories and an auditorium and have space for robotics testing, optics research and high-speed computation and simulation.

The challenge

One of the toughest parts of the project was placing a 127,000-pound dome atop the auditorium. Just putting the crane in place to make the lift was a significant accomplishment. The team had to estimate the dome’s weight and wound up bringing in a heavier-duty crane to do the job.

The solution

A 250,000-pound Manitowoc 2250 was brought in to hoist the 200-piece dome, which was pieced together on the ground. The team had to build a road for the crane through the site inches away from existing buildings and cover existing utilities to avoid damaging them under the massive weight of the machinery. The crane’s tracks barely made it under the overhang of an existing building.

The result

It took three hours to lift the dome, set it and weld it into place. Embry-Riddle officials and students gathered to watch as the work culminated four months of planning and coordination.

“They were able to witness the whole thing,” Project Manager Josh Anderson said. “They are happy. The week before, we had a beam-signing for the school and 400 to 500 people showed up.”

Work on the entire expansion is a little more than 40 percent complete.