Printer Friendly

High water poses added challenge in utility work.

Situated at the base of three mountain ranges, Utah Lake is an essential water source for high-elevation communities. When the water reaches a "compromised level," the floodgates open and water travels via the Jordan River and into Great Salt Lake. The ground around the river becomes saturated, creating a high water table and an insurmountable amount of mud.

Whitaker Construction Company--a family-owned utility contractor since 1953 and now one of Utah's largest--was hired by the South Valley Sewer District (SVSD) to install 36,000 feet of sewer pipe adjacent to the Jordan River in the replacement of force mains between a sewage lift station in South Jordan City.


Working downstream in a 45-foot-wide, 16-foot-deep trench while floodwater was being released presented some interesting challenges for the company. Having to divert the river in some places, cross it in others, and work in up to 4 feet of mud required workers to think on their feet, react quickly, and put their equipment to the test.

Heavy-duty mudslingin'

Three Volvo[R] excavators were used to move roughly 120,000 cubic yards of soil and 70,000 tons of rock for trench backfill in order to install the new pipelines. They were also used to set 9,500-pound air-vac vaults and 37,000-pound pipe. Whitaker saw the cost and time benefits of using Volvo excavators instead of a crane to accomplish the task.

Hauling the 70,000 tons of backfill to the jobsite wouldn't be possible with standard dump trucks unless they built a haul road--a process that would have been time-consuming and costly.

Emergency response

Originally expecting 500 cubic feet of water per second, workers were taken by surprise during their work when the amount of water released from Utah Lake suddenly turned into 1,200 cubic feet per second. "Without Volvo excavators here on-site, we couldn't have kept up with the debris, or been able to remove everything that we had to remove in order to get out of this river and avoid flooding," said Jared Whitaker, project manager for Whitaker Construction Company.

Transitioning to new machines

When the Whitakers traded out machines for Volvo equipment, operators and managers took notice of Volvo quality, including fuel efficiency and monitoring. "Volvo equipment has consistently, throughout the years, been very kind on fuel," said Jared Whitaker. "Compared to our previous brand of equipment, it was noticeable from the operator's standpoint as to how much he had to fuel during the day."

Through the Volvo machine-tracking and information system (MATRIS) on wheel loaders, Whitaker is able to safeguard its equipment and better train its operators. "MATRIS downloads tell us about the operation of each machine and how a particular operator is using it," said Jared Whitaker. "It gives us a chance to collect information, take it back to the operator and use it as a training tool."

Grow the fleet; grow the business

In part, the company's success has been because of its fleet expansion. In 1964, the Whitakers bought a hydraulic excavator, which doubled the value of their fleet and provided additional capabilities. They've continued adding to their fleet for the past 15 years. "Growing our Volvo fleet has helped to grow our business," said Mike Whitaker, operations manager for Whitaker Construction Company.

Whitaker has the ability to take on large projects in difficult terrain, completing them successfully and profitably. While the pride of running the family business has been the biggest factor in the company's success over the years, having the right equipment has certainly helped.
COPYRIGHT 2012 Oildom Publishing Company of Texas, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Capabilities Guide 2012
Publication:Underground Construction
Date:Oct 1, 2012
Previous Article:Underground Solutions: Fusible PVC[TM] pipe.
Next Article:McElroy unveils TracStar[R] 500 Series 3 and DataLogger[R] 4.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters