5R Constructors Moves Mounds of Earth for HAIA Job

Mon January 20, 2003 - Southeast Edition
G.W. Hall



5R Constructors LLC are playing a lead role in the latest phase of the effort to build a fifth runway at Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport (HAIA).

“The contract calls for 5R Constructors to supply and place more than 27 million cu. yds. of earth to support the new runway,” said Bill Hammack, managing director of 5R Constructors.

The 9,000-ft. (2,743 m) runway, which will cross over Interstate 285 just south of Sullivan Road, represents the centerpiece of a 10-year, $5.4-billion master plan for the expansion of HAIA. In addition to the new runway, airport improvements included in the Hartsfield Development Program consist of construction of a new international passenger terminal with parking facilities, the enhancement of road and rail access, and the expansion of the airport’s underground “people mover” train.

“The program will provide additional capacity to Hartsfield, which currently serves 78-million passengers and is projected to serve more than 121 million by the year 2015,” said Benjamin R. DeCosta, general manager of the City of Atlanta Department of Aviation (DOA). “Given the grown that the airport has seen in recent years, the completion of the master plan will be an essential component in guiding the airport through the 21st century.”

The airport finalized the plan in 1999, and began acquiring land for the runway in 2000. By the time 5R Constructors won the contract to provide earth for the project, several other subcontractors for the city of Atlanta and DOA had completed a variety of preliminary site preparation chores. These tasks included demolishing hundreds of old buildings and removing thousands of trees that occupied the site.

Created specifically to provide earth for the new runway, 5R Constructors brought together the resources and know-how of C.W. Matthews Construction Company, APAC-Georgia, and Thrasher Trucking in a joint venture capable of successfully completing this Herculean task.

“The bidding process for this project began early in 2000,” Hammack said. “The DOA initially sent out a request for proposal [RFP] asking that interested contractors submit their best prices for a supply-only contract to supply enough base material for a 6,000-ft. runway.”

C.W. Matthews joined forces with Thrasher Trucking to submit a bid in response to this initial RFP, while APAC-Georgia teamed up with another interested contractor to respond. However, during interviews with city and airport officials, representatives of both joint ventures expressed reservations about the first RFP.

“Both groups expressed concern about the supply-only nature of the initial RFP,” Hammack said. “Due to the enormous quantity of base material the project would require, everyone felt that a supply-and-placement contract would be necessary.”

After listening to the opinions of the bidders, city and airport officials agreed with the contractors’ assessment and rejected all bids submitted in response to the initial RFP. Officials then issued an RFP for a supply-and-placement contract.

By then, APAC-Georgia had discovered that its original partner lacked the minority contractor status necessary for the venture to submit a new bid. But since APAC-Georgia had access to a convenient borrow pit nearby, C.W. Matthews and Thrasher Trucking invited it to become a partner in the 5R Constructors joint venture. APAC-Georgia accepted, and the three principals submitted a proposal in response to the second RFP.

As the second round of the bidding process moved into the best and final offer state, however, HAIA officials decided to make another change in the eventual contract. Realizing that the city would incur greater expense if it split up the contracts for runway base material, the city combined all of the base-building work into a single contract.

“In addition to making the project more economical, we believe that combining both phases of the project into a single contract would save us a great deal of time in completing the runway,” DeCosta said.

After making this final change, DOA officials continued with their review of RFP responses. After considering the alternatives, City of Atlanta officials gave 5R Constructors approval to begin work.

“We believe we got a good deal for the airport and the city and the region,” DeCosta said.

“When we received the approval to proceed, we began assembling a fleet of more than 85 pieces of brand new Caterpillar equipment at the work site,” Hammack said. “The total order that 5R Constructors placed with Yancey Brothers added up to nearly $40 million, by far the largest order in Yancey’s history.”

Because of the immense size of the order, Yancey Brothers and Caterpillar also entered a unique partnership arrangement with 5R Constructors where operating costs are concerned.

“Caterpillar and Yancey took responsibility for 100 percent of equipment maintenance,” Hammack said. “They set up an on-site maintenance facility, specified our maintenance costs up-front, and agreed to share with us any savings or cost overruns.”

To minimize possible down-time, Caterpillar and Yancey Brothers will rely on the manufacturer’s Product Link satellite system to monitor the mechanical soundness of each piece of equipment involved in the project. The system will continuously monitor key components of the equipment. If a problem develops, it automatically alerts personnel at Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria, IL, and the on-site maintenance facility of impending failures, enabling them to take action to prevent a potential breakdown.

After finalizing this comprehensive maintenance partnership, 5R Constructors put the equipment to work building the discharge pad and the footprint for the 5.5-mi. (8.9 km) electric conveyor system that helps transfer material from two quarries to the site of the fifth runway. The Continental system, supplied through subcontractor John D. Stephens, will follow the perimeter of the two quarries supplying dirt for the project. The conveyor belt at the quarry end measures 48 in. (122 cm), and expands to 72 in. (183 cm) as it nears the runway.

“The conveyor system will eliminate 5 million trips that it would take to move the amount of material we need one truckload at a time,” DeCosta said. “In addition to ensuring a smooth flow of material, it also will make the project much more environmentally friendly by eliminating the hundreds of tons of hydrocarbons that all those truck trips would release into the atmosphere. Keeping all of those trucks off the road also will limit the project’s impact on traffic in the area and make the roads much safer for local motorists.”

This system gives 5R Constructors the ability to maintain the extremely rapid pace necessary to conclude the work by the 2005 completion date. The company must provide the equivalent of a tandem dump truckload of material every 10 seconds to meet its ambitious schedule.

“We have 11 different transfer points along the conveyer system,” Hammack said. “So if a bin doesn’t load trucks properly, or the trucks don’t cycle correctly, it could adversely affect the entire process.”

On the borrow pits (supply) side, 5R Constructors deployed an impressive fleet of off-highway trucks and other earth-moving machinery. The trucks assigned to the supply side work included nine 773D 42-ton (38 t) rock trucks and two 769D off-road water trucks. The task force of earth-moving equipment at the quarries consists of three 988G rubber-tired front end loaders, two D10R bulldozers, three D9R bulldozers, two D8R bulldozers, one CS563D smooth drum vibratory roller, a 14H motorgrader, two 5110 excavators and five 345BL excavators. To quickly reload the water trucks, the company also stationed a 12,000-gal. (45,425 L) MPT12 self-raising portable stand tank manufactured by Mega Corp at the quarry.

In addition, 5R Constructors contracted with Aztec Industries to set up two 50-60 primary crushers and two portable crushers to help it convert the large amount of rock present in the soil into useable material.

“5R Constructors will be conveying and placing minus 10-in. material,” Hammack said. “In all, about 25 percent of the material removed from the borrow pits is rock. We expect the crushers to process around 11 million tons of rock during the course of the project.”

At the site of the new runway, 5R Constructors assembled an even larger fleet of machinery. Trucks in use there included six 777D 100-ton (91 t) rock trucks, a 773-D 42-ton (38 t) rock truck, and four 769D off-road water trucks. Again, the company also stationed a 12,000-gal. (45,425 L) MPT12 self-raising portable stand tanks at the runway site to allow for rapid refills of its water trucks to be used for dust control.

The earth-moving equipment task force involved in the new runway building project also consists of four 988G rubber-tired front-end loaders, two D9R track-type tractors, four D8R track-type tractors, two CS563D smooth drum vibratory rollers, six 825G compactors, five 16H motorgraders, three CH95E Challenger tractors, three 246 skid steer loaders, three pull-behind sheepsfoot rollers, nine TRW-24 harrows, two 345BL excavators and a 5110 excavator. In addition, 5R Constructors had three Kawasaki 2510 Mules on hand to assist with minor utility chores and GPS cross-sectioning.

“It will require a tremendous amount of coordination to keep the system operating at peak efficiency,” Hammack said. “Just like a great orchestra, we will have to keep everyone playing on the same page to achieve the results we envision.”

In addition to company pride, the team from 5R Constructors has other incentives to succeed.

“The contract includes $10 million worth of early completion incentives,” Hammack said. “We will receive an extra $3 million if we have the first 6,000 ft. ready for concrete paving by June 1, 2005. In addition, we will earn an additional $7-million incentive if we complete the remaining 3,000 ft. by June 27, 2005.

“When you take the number of days available in the contract and back out Sundays and holidays, that only left us around 600 days to complete the work,” he added. “But in our first 60 days of work, we got significantly ahead of schedule. We intend to maintain this fast pace and significantly exceed quality standards as the project continues to move forward.”