Mobile Port Project Requires Massive Underground Electrical Installations

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | September 2009 Vol. 64 No. 9

"After underground work was complete, multiple crews of electricians worked simultaneously on other portions of the project," Hensley said. "Each substation was lifted from a delivery truck by a crane and placed on the concrete pad and anchored to the pad.

To help keep the excavation phase on schedule, the 29 vaults were placed underground and prefabbed 20 foot sections of PVC conduits were stubbed into the vaults and connected to the duct banks. GPS readings were taken of the vault locations because the vaults were eventually completely covered by the concrete. Later the GPS readings were used to locate the underground vaults, and concrete saws were used to cut through the paving to access manholes.

Electricians were provided confined space entry training before working in the underground vaults and also had to be instructed and certified to operate motorized lull fork trucks used to move materials throughout the project site. Training included lockout and tag out procedures.

High mast lights consisted of 19 sectional metal poles, 120 feet tall; 2 sectional metal poles 100 feet tall and 21 sectional metal poles 60 feet tall. Fixtures are 1,000 watts each 10 for each of the 120 and 100 foot poles and two each for the 60 foot poles. Total wattage for the high mast poles is 252,000 watts.

"Installation of the light poles is routine for contractors experienced in this work," said Hensley. "It is simply assembling sections of the poles, standing them upright with a truck crane, securing them to pole bases, and making terminations."

For a project of this magnitude, Hensley said work proceeded smoothly, and unexpected events were handled without causing a delay in completion.

Unexpected interruption
The work schedule was interrupted just over a month before the target completion date when an oil spill on the Mississippi River closed operations at the Port of New Orleans. The two Mobile cranes were powered up early to accommodate a ship rerouted from New Orleans. Areas in the construction zone were secured and containers offloaded at MCT in order to keep the delivery of imported goods on schedule. The overall project work schedule was changed to 10 hour days, six days a week.

After the Port of New Orleans reopened, the original construction schedule was resumed, and the interruption did not delay the facility's grand opening ceremonies.