The Sundt Experience: September 2014

Las Cruces Bridge Installed Over Busy Roadway in Less Than 24 Hours

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The 110-foot-long bridge was assembled in pieces and then installed over a busy roadway in less than a day.

How does a 110-foot-long, 50-ton steel pedestrian bridge appear over a roadway in less than a day? What often takes months can be done in hours by the right project team – one that knows how to assemble the bridge ahead of time in pieces, then carefully lift and fit the segments into place with specialized equipment. That’s what Sundt and joint venture partner Wooten Construction did earlier this summer at Las Cruces High School (LCHS) in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The lift required months of planning, but through the use of Wooten|Sundt’s innovative process the bridge was erected in less than 24 hours, minimizing traffic impacts on one of Las Cruces’ busiest roadways. (Click here to see a short video of the lift.)

LCHS representative Travis Coker congratulated Wooten|Sundt on its accomplishment, and volunteered to submit the team’s bridge work for the Public School Facilities Authority (PSFA) Quality Award. “We congratulate and thank you for your hard work and flawless execution – great job, Wooten|Sundt project team.”

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After months of planning, the bridge was installed without a hitch.

Phased bridge assembly with preassembled components, such as the method used for the LCHS bridge, has become one of Sundt’s signature methods for minimizing community impacts during construction. By foregoing the time-consuming process of piece-by-piece bridge assembly in favor of preassembled components and sections, Sundt has managed to greatly increase its project efficiency. Such an approach can often shave many months and millions of dollars off a project, but to do so successfully, a contractor has to have the right experience and expertise.

“The project team knew from day one that the bridge installation was going to be a large community event and a challenge for various reasons,” said Sundt Project Manager Josh Anderson. “Close enough is not what we do. We strive to be perfect, and this bridge showcases that skill. Being just one inch off in any direction would have been a huge problem – steel stretchers are only in the movies! Five months of planning, checking and re-checking gave us the confidence that we could perform the lift successfully, and we did.”

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Artist’s rendering of the new two-story classroom building.

Construction and installation of the bridge was just one part of Wooten|Sundt’s $36 million K-12 education construction project for Las Cruces Public Schools, the project’s owner. The team’s scope also includes construction of several new parking lots and athletic fields, as well as 156,000 square feet of structural additions, anchored by a two-story classroom building, administration areas, a media center, and a performing arts laboratory. The project, designed by Alley & Associates, begins a comprehensive facelift of the decades-old campus, providing a newer, more modern façade all along El Paseo Road, from a revised bus loop and main entrance to the new classroom buildings and parking areas flanking the bridge overhead.

At 15’3″ tall, the bridge surpasses federal height requirements and allows high-profile trucks to easily pass beneath it. It also solves a logistical problem for the growing high school, as its enrollment outpaces its original acreage. LCHS had purchased six additional acres on the east side of El Paseo Road, but needed a safe, reliable way to integrate the land into its campus. The enclosed pedestrian bridge accomplishes that goal, providing students with safe passage across the five-lane street while keeping traffic interference at a minimum.

Wooten|Sundt’s project is scheduled to be complete by August 2015.

Phoenix Light Rail Project Celebrates Major Milestone
Installation of First Track Marks Project’s Halfway Point

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Crowds watch as concrete is poured for the first section of new track at the Northwest Extension milestone event.

Phoenix residents may have to suffer through seemingly endless jokes about their city’s excessive heat, but they’ve got some serious bragging rights when it comes to public transit. Valley Metro’s Northwest Extension project – a 3.2-mile expansion of the area’s existing light rail system – recently hit the halfway mark. That means that when the project is completed in 2016, residents and visitors will be able to travel around an even larger area of the city with ease, efficiency and comfort.

The milestone was celebrated in July with a large event that drew hundreds of residents, business owners, and local and regional elected officials. They watched and cheered as Sundt and joint venture partner Stacy and Witbeck poured concrete for the first section of the Northwest Extension’s new track.

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A close-up view of the concrete work that was performed at the event.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton attended the event and emphasized the transportation construction project’s economic impact. “It is projects like this that create jobs in the community,” he said. “This is how you help grow the economy – by building the city of Phoenix through infrastructure.”

The $158.7 million project consists of coordinating major utility relocations, widening the roadway to accommodate the 40-foot-wide track alignment, and concrete paving to support the new double tracks along the route. Sundt/Stacy and Witbeck is also installing the tracks, constructing three new train stations with passenger platforms, building a Park-and-Ride lot, constructing three traction power substations (which supply electricity to the trains), installing new intersection signals and crossovers, and constructing the concrete foundations for the overhead catenary system that will feed electricity to the trains. The project was designed by AECOM.

“We’ve invested a lot of time in our planning process in order to achieve the project’s milestones and overall schedule while minimizing impacts to the community,” said Sundt Project Manager Fred Locke. “We even created a free app that people can access anytime, anywhere for current construction information, coupons for nearby restaurants and businesses, maps, and more.” (To read more about the NWX app, click here.)

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The free NWX app was developed by the project team as an innovative, cost-effective way to provide the community with continuous construciton updates and other project information.

Phoenix Councilmember Daniel Valenzuela, who represents the district where the light rail extension travels, served as host of the ceremony. “The Northwest Extension … is about making life’s appointments,” he said. “People in this community need access to transportation to get to doctor’s visits, to school and to work.”

The “first track” event was the project’s second of five milestones. The next three are: station installation, vehicle testing, and the grand opening in 2016. The project team is currently finishing the underground construction phase while work continues on roadway widening, hardscape reconstruction and track placement. Construction of the passenger station will begin this fall.

The Northwest Extension is expected to serve approximately 5,000 riders per day when it is complete. It is Sundt’s fourth project for Valley Metro Light Rail. In 2008, Sundt/Stacy and Witbeck completed more than half of the original 20-mile “starter” section of the transit system (Line Section 4 and Line Section 5), plus the system’s maintenance and operations facility.

Excellent Project Execution Leads to Repeat Work at Fort Campbell

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Artist’s rendering of the new GSB facility at Fort Campbell

The old adage “nothing succeeds like success” is certainly proving to be true at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where Sundt is performing its third federal construction project for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District in less than two years. The project is a $22 million Special Operating Forces Group Support Battalion (GSB) facility, being constructed with joint venture partner United Builders Group (UBG). The repeat work is the direct result of delivering the “Sundt experience” on the company’s first project for this client.

“Sundt completed all features of work on or ahead of schedule. The project team always responded to issues promptly and provided effective solutions,” said Army Corps of Engineers Resident Engineer Tavis Hanley.

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Sundt’s first project completed at Fort Campbell was a barracks for the Special Operating Forces.

Sundt’s first project at Fort Campbell was an Unaccompanied Enlisted Personnel Housing (UEPH) barracks completed in December 2013 for the Special Operating Forces, the same group that will occupy the GSB facility. The company was then awarded a second barracks project at Fort Campbell – this time to support the Battalion Headquarters Complex build-out – in March 2014. That project is proceeding alongside the new GSB facility and is scheduled to be complete at approximately the same time (early 2016).

“Our objective on our two current projects is to continue to provide safe and exceptional design-build services while implementing lessons learned from our first project,” said Sundt Project Director John Alberghini. “Our commitment to continuous improvement is applauded by the Army Corps of Engineers, who place our people and integrity among the industry’s finest.”

Alberghini emphasized that Sundt distinguished itself early by focusing on spaces that can be reconfigured at minimal expense in order to best serve the ever-changing environment of today’s Army units. “Our attention to structural solutions that can readily support interior wall reconfigurations provides the client with the most flexibility to handle mission adjustments,” he said. “Such flexibility is extremely important to the newly awarded GSB.”

The GSB facility, designed by Burns & McDonnell, will support approved force structure growth for the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) [5th SFG (A)]. It will house battalion level operations and six companies including a sustainment and distribution company, maintenance company and four forward support companies. The 5th SFG (A) performs missions and activities throughout the full range of military operations and in all environments. The unit provides Department of Defense and Theater Combatant Commanders a means to resolve crises, achieve U.S. objectives, and pursue U.S. strategic goals. These facilities support the continual operations, training and deployment of forces in real world exercises and conventional and unconventional, special and irregular war scenarios.

The two-story, 104,000-square-foot building will be constructed of structural steel with a masonry exterior. The first level will house wire cage lockers and cast-in-place concrete vaults for the storage of arms and ammunition while the second floor will include offices and classrooms.

UBG/Sundt’s scope of work includes demolishing three, three-story concrete/masonry buildings to clear the site prior to construction of the GSB facility. Once abatement work has rid the buildings of asbestos and they can be torn down safely, the demolished concrete will be run through a crusher on site to produce aggregate fill material for the project – a step that will help reduce costs and help the project achieve its sustainability goals.