The Sundt Experience: May 2016
Park & Ride Helps San Antonio Grow Smarter
San Antonio is one of the country’s fastest-growing cities. A U.S. government estimate in 2014 ranked it as the seventh-largest city in the country with a growth rate of more than 8 percent since the 2010 Census.
Estimates say this population spike is more than a passing fad. The City’s Planning and Community Development Director said in 2014 the city’s footprint likely will double by 2040, from 500 square miles to more than 1,000.
Many residents, both old and new, are flocking to the city’s north and west sides. A telling indication of the growth is enrollment at the Northside Independent School District, which had 63,800 students in 2000. Ten years later, that figure reached 95,000 and is estimated to hit 120,000 by 2020.
More growth usually means more vehicles on the road. But it doesn’t have to. VIA Metropolitan Transit, which provides public transportation services to 13 cities and towns in the Greater San Antonio Region, is planning for increased demand as commuters seek efficient ways to reach downtown from the suburbs.
One of those steps includes construction of the 400-space Stone Oak Park & Ride on the north side of the city. Sundt started work in April on the $18.5 million Design-Build project and is scheduled to be completed by summer 2017. RVK Architects designed the structure.
“It is simple mathematics: As our city grows and our population increases, we are faced with more and more traffic congestion along our major transportation arteries,” said Sundt Project Executive Todd Calder. “VIA has taken a very proactive step to alleviate some of these issues while also providing an attractive, safe place which promotes ridesharing and commuter transit relief.”
The facility, which will be located on the southwest corner of the intersection of US 281 and Stone Oak Parkway, will include:
- A four-level, cast-in-place concrete structure with post-tensioned slabs and beams, and pre-cast spandrels.
- An air-conditioned transit terminal, including a lobby, offices, ticket area, public restrooms, and vending area.
- Accommodations for access to future HOV lanes on U.S. Highway 281.
- Access drive to Stone Oak Parkway and a traffic signal.
- Bicycle amenities.
- Electric car-charging stations.
- Monitored video security surveillance system.
- Storm water management to protect the Edwards Aquifer, which supplies water to almost 2 million users in Southern Texas.
The transportation construction project is the beginning of bigger plans for the area. More development is expected to crop up around the facility after it opens and VIA passengers start flocking to the site.
“The introduction of a park and ride facility and transit service will create activity that typically serves as a catalyst for mixed-use retail and residential demand,” Calder said.
In other words, bring on the growth. San Antonio is ready.
Peers: Sundt is Safest Construction Company in America
Earlier this year, Sundt won the Associated General Contractors of America Grand Award, given annually to the safest construction company in the country. It was the second time our company earned this honor with the first coming in 2006.
The award evaluation compares a member’s safety record and safety program with other AGC members according to member size and construction type. More than 26,000 companies were eligible to compete for awards.
The Grand Award was one of two honors we earned during the AGC’s National Conference in San Antonio. We also took first place in the Highway Division among contractors with more than a million man hours. Winning the division award enabled us to compete for the Grand Award. We also won the national highway division in 2006, 2010 and 2013.
Corporate Director of Safety & Quality Paul Levin recently took time to answer a few questions about what the award means and what it says about our unwavering commitment to safety.
What does the AGC Grand Award mean to our clients?
Of the more than 26,000 contractors available to apply for the award, Sundt was recognized by its peers as being a leader in construction safety. It demonstrates to clients we are committed to improving our safety efforts every single day. Our clients want validation we are dedicated and committed to safety the way they are.
How did Sundt earn the award?
Fifty-two companies made it to San Antonio to present about their company safety program. Our crew of five employee-owners demonstrated our safety program’s passion, commitment and focus on continuous improvement by safety role-playing. We personalized what we do every day by recreating real-life safety challenges at the jobsite so the judges understood safety is more than just words on paper or a PowerPoint on a screen. We believe in “Safety by Choice” so at the end of each day, our employees are able to walk out of the jobsite gate talking about their families, their kids playing baseball, etc.
Why is safety such an important value for our company?
It goes way beyond rules and regulations. It’s not worth coming into work if we can’t go home safely. We want all employees, subcontractor employees and anyone associated with our projects to go home safely every day.
What does Sundt do to encourage safety on jobsites?
We encourage and recognize employee-owners for making good safety choices. We want people modeling and coaching safe behavior. If people are making high-risk decisions, we coach them to make safer choices. And it always comes down to recognition. You have to model the behavior you want. People always respond better with positive reinforcement versus constant feedback on what they are doing wrong.
What’s an example of something we do to make our workplaces safe?
Most contractors complete a task hazard analysis at the beginning of a task. We focus on revising our THA anytime something changes: If we add a person to a crew, if we’re using a crane instead of a forklift. We realized during review meetings many of our incidents were happening because we didn’t properly assess new equipment, mechanical or employee changes. We hadn’t gone over all the hazards. We realized the plan changed, however we didn’t call a safety timeout to reevaluate and reassess. Anyone on a jobsite can call a safety timeout any time he or she sees something that needs to be addressed. It empowers our employees and makes our jobsites safer.
Case Study: Sellwood Bridge
Sundt and joint venture partner Slayden Construction were tasked with replacing Sellwood Bridge, an aging but important part of Portland, Oregon’s infrastructure. Sellwood, used by 30,000 vehicles every day, was the busiest two-lane bridge in Oregon and provided the only crossing for a 12-mile stretch of the Willamette River between Oregon City and Portland.
With the community so reliant on the bridge and strict closure clauses in the agreement with owner Multnomah County, the team had to find a creative way to keep traffic flowing during the more than four-year transportation construction project duration.
The team created a detour bridge (or shoofly) to ensure that the project caused as little disruption as possible to the traveling public. The work wasn’t easy. Crews lifted the old bridge deck and truss with hydraulic jacks and moved it out of the new bridge alignment, then placed it on temporary piers and connected it to approach spans.
Creating the detour bridge made the jobsite safer for construction crews and the public by freeing up the existing alignment for workers and keeping traffic out of the work zone. Eliminating the need for complicated traffic phasing also shortened project duration and overall cost. The result was a sleeker bridge design with fewer redundant features and a reduction of in-water impacts, which is better for the river’s ecosystem.
Constructing the detour bridge allowed the team to close the bridge to traffic for only 20 days, well inside the 30 days called for in the contract with Multnomah County. T.Y. Lin International was the project engineer.
The client’s reaction
“For years we knew that the old Sellwood Bridge had a sufficiency rating of just two on a scale of zero to 100. So when we heard the contractor wanted to move the old bridge and then run traffic on it for several years, we all wanted to know how it could be done. The Slayden/Sundt team convinced us the bridge could be safely moved. In January 2013, many of us gathered to watch as the contractors’ team successfully slid the truss spans of the old bridge north onto new piers. It was an amazing construction feat. It saved us significant time and money by creating room for the contractor to build the new bridge in a single phase. People in Portland still talk about the day we moved the bridge.”
Multnomah County Chair