Michigan Contractor Tackles New, Challenging Excavation Project

August 2011, Vol. 66 No. 8

Theodore Roosevelt aptly said, “When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.” This is certainly the philosophy taken by contractor Tri-City Groundbreakers when they were low bidder on a deep excavation project that was larger and deeper than anything that they had attempted before.

Tri-City, headquartered in Midland, MI, cast in place a 24- by 26-foot lift station 40 feet deep for the city of Bay City’s Hampton Township Pump Station #1.

“Hampton Township was definitely our biggest undertaking, size-wise, up till then,” said Tri-City President John Schmidt. “We’d never gone that deep before, but we decided to go ahead and bid on it.”

Installing an underground structure can pose many excavation challenges, including soil conditions, site encumbrances and shoring the excavation for an extended period of time. All these factors came into play at the Hampton Township location.

“It was a postage stamp lot,” said John Briggs, Tri-City’s project manager on the project. “There were railroad tracks adjacent on one side, the dig was within a few feet of a residential street and there were other underground utilities running all around it.”

The biggest up front challenge was finding shoring that would work for the large and deep excavation. “We looked at the cost of sheet piling, and compared that with a couple of manufacturer’s slide rail systems,” said Schmidt. “We decided to go with a system from Efficiency Production.”

Based in Mason, MI; Efficiency Production Inc. is a leading manufacturer of Slide Rail Systems and other trench shoring equipment.

Efficiency’s Universal Slide Rail is a component shoring system comprised of steel panels (similar to trench shield sidewalls) and vertical steel posts. The versatile system can be used in a variety of configurations. In addition to the obstruction-free ClearSpan configuration, the system can be configured into small four-sided pits; or in a Multi-Bay configuration to install large tanks and structures; or lengths of pipe over 40 feet.


“When we got the quote on the system, there was a bit of sticker shock,” admits Schmidt. “But after factoring in the cost of sheeting, hiring a sheet piling crew, and the length of time it would take to install sheeting; slide rail then became a very economical and competitive alternative.”

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