Every job we step on to as a construction crew, we are faced with challenges that we have to overcome in order to complete the project precisely, efficiently, and most importantly – safely.
Most of the problems that we encounter are solved through our knowledge of road construction and previous experiences. We rely on the insight we have gained on past jobs while using a little bit of ingenuity to achieve the ideal results.
The City of Syracuse Creekwalk Phase II job follows the banks of the Onondaga Creek for 2.3 miles on the south side of Syracuse. The creek itself is fast flowing at times and is lined with concrete and stone from the early 1900s. We began excavating on the Creekwalk this spring and the project began quite smoothly. A few small challenges popped up, but nothing that couldn’t be handled with a quick step back, a few head scratches, and us reconvening to tackle the issue. Recently, however, we were presented with a unique and difficult scope of work which imposed a challenge for us all. On paper, it was a simple 3-foot tall concrete wall with a slope to make a 12-foot wide multi-use bicycle and pedestrian path. In reality, we had to accomplish all that underneath a bridge, on the edge of the creek bed, and build upon the existing ground that was only around 6 feet wide. It turned out to be a set of obstacles that pushed our ingenuity, our imagination, and our resourcefulness.
We came across our first problem as soon as we began excavating. We encountered an unmarked cast iron pipeline that ran beneath the entire job site. We did our due diligence to determine that it was an old Brine line left over from the once-thriving salt industry in Syracuse. Hence the nickname ‘Salt City’. Once the proper precautions were taken we began the task of removing the pipeline. We struggled with the task and the excavating portion of this project had become a lot more difficult than anticipated. Ten and twenty-foot lengths of cast iron pipe do not come apart so easily when you have limited space to move and no way to reach underneath the middle of the bridge. But, nonetheless, our crew of Victoria Stanton and Ron Vaccaro completed the job. From there on out Dave Stanton and his crew of Brian McBride, Jon Ferrara, and Calvin Johnson excavated their way down and worked their way under the bridge to set our grade for the trail. Once we were finished excavating and placing our sub-base back in, the next challenge presented itself. We would have to form and pour a vertical wall on the steep bank of the creek, which was sloped with blocked stone. We had no way of walking on the stone, no flat surface on which to build, and no easy seemed to gain some traction. There was light at the end of the tunnel! It took some time, a lot of hammer drilling, and some sleepless nights thinking about how to best approach the situation.
Wesley Hood, the Superintendent on the Creekwalk project, made sure we had everything we needed at our disposal to complete the job and to ensure we were safe at all times. It was his ability to think outside the box that finally got the project off the ground. He recommended using signposts to build a flat platform to work off. It gave us a safe and flat platform to work and build off of. We were making headway. Once the platform was complete we could focus on forming up the wall. With the assistance of Keith Saunders we were able to finish forming and kicking all the forms. Knowing that the weight of concrete can never be underestimated, his crew made sure that we had ample braces on our forms. Keith and his crew of Bob Burns, Rusty Allen, and Brett Olden II were vital to getting this accomplished.
After some last-minute prep work the day of the pour and hoping for some good luck the concrete was here. We had to pump the concrete in underneath the bridge. Brett Olden II had to wrestle the 4” hoses as we placed the concrete. We also received help from our project engineer David Woznica, Victoria Stanton, and our intern Zach. Keith, Bob, Rusty, Wesley, and our old concrete foreman Brett Olden placed and finished 94 cubic yards of concrete in under 8 hours. There may have been a few creaks, but everything held together!
“The ability to develop unique solutions to a set of such challenging obstacles instills a great deal of pride in what you and your fellow co-workers accomplished. Without Dave Stanton and his crew being able to find a way to excavate all the dirt out and set our grade; without Keith Saunders and his concrete crew making sure everything was formed and secured for the amount of concrete going into that area, and without Wesley orchestrating all of this we would never have executed the task so smoothly and safely. This challenge was the most complex and unique one I’ve seen on any of our jobs. I’m proud of what our guys accomplished and the way in which they all worked together to conquer this project.”
– Colten Sullivan (Construction Foreman NYC)