Rocky Road: Carving Roadways, Utility Trenches In Tough Rock

May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5

Set among rolling ranchland and majestic live oaks in the limestone-laden terrain of Texas’ famed Hill Country, San Antonio-based contractor SACC Inc. enlisted a trio of Vermeer track trenchers to carve an intricate network of roads and utility lines that now serves as the infrastructure for an exclusive residential community.

But the challenges facing the milling and trenching experts with SACC tackling the project were as numerous as those presented by the sculpted fairways and manicured greens of Dominion Country Club -- the prestigious golf club located nearby for which the development is named.

“It’s easy to be fooled by the landscape and rolling topography,” says Jason Merck, who along with his brother, Jerry, co-owns SACC. “Just below the surface is rock -- hard rock -- of the limestone variety. Milling and trenching through Texas limestone is no picnic. It takes operator patience and know-how; and tough equipment. Fortunately we have both.”

Making grade
Founded by Jason’s great grandfather -- Gerald “Jerry” Merck, a Texas native and construction pioneer who recognized the vast potential in real estate development at the time -- SACC Inc., along with companion company Legacy SiteWork L.L.C., are leading contractors specializing in residential development and site preparation. The company’s role in The Dominion project involved converting the undeveloped ground into a network of roads combined with water and sewer lines to accommodate the 60-plus lots platted for the new luxury, gated community. On the surface, the task sounds fairly routine. But it’s what lies below the surface that made this project so unique.

“Getting everything down to grade was very difficult in the sloping, rocky topography,” Merck says. “The milling component of the job was tricky. It wasn’t like it was just a series of straightaways. The development was platted with curves and arcs designed to complement the sloping terrain and accentuate views for the residences. Milling curves on slopes through Texas limestone and keeping on grade is no easy task.”

“There were places where we needed to mill down quite a few feet to meet the grade necessary for gravity flow sewers,” says Merck. “The trenches for all of the wet utilities -- water, storm and sanitary sewers -- were cut directly beneath the roadways as specified in the plan. The challenge was to preserve as much of the natural terrain as possible to maximize views for the residents which required some additional road milling to accomplish the grade needed for gravity flow.”