Work Speeds Ahead on Replacing Century-Old Bridges With Tunnel

Carroll County OKs Tax Hike for New Lake

Thu June 04, 2009 - Southeast Edition
Mary Reed



A year or so from now, the residents of Carroll County, Tenn., will be able to boat and fish on a lake covering 977 acres (395 ha), currently being created near Huntingdon.

What’s more, voters were willing to approve a $10 raise in the wheel tax to contribute to the cost of providing this new amenity.

Ronald Franks Construction Company LLC, (RFC) of Savannah, Tenn., is handling the approximately $8 million job on behalf of the Carroll County Watershed Authority.

Founded by Ronald Franks in 1997, the company is a comprehensive general contractor licensed in more than 20 states and specializing in industrial, commercial, residential and highway/heavy construction.

“As the contractor,” Olin Ellsworth, heavy/highway construction manager of Ronald Franks Construction, stated in early April, “our scope of work includes construction of the earthen dam itself and installation of the slurry cut-off wall, the bentonite/soil core mix, and the blanket drain system, as well as building the intake and discharge structures, construction of the concrete emergency spillway, rip-rap slope protection, erosion control, building the dam crest access road and some land clearing.

“At the moment we are hauling dirt for the levee embankment in concert with installation of the bentonite/soil core mix and working on the primary intake structure,” he said. “To date we have completed installation of the slurry cut-off wall, the blanket drain system, approximately 25 percent of the levee embankment, about 35 percent of the bentonite soil-core, 50 percent of the concrete work for the intake/discharge system, and most of the necessary land clearing.”

Paralleling Highway 70, the 59-ft. (18 m) high dam levee requires 650,000 cu. yd. (496,961 cu m) of fill, which will be provided by excavation of the lake basin. The embankment will be 2,500 ft. (762 m) long and 350 ft. (107 m) wide and filling the lake will take about a year via five wells. Four are temporary, running on portable power, and the remaining well will remain in operation to top off water levels as needed.

Work still to be carried out includes completion of the primary intake structure, including a pedestrian bridge, completing the levee embankment and bentonite/soil core, installation of rip-rap slope protection, construction of the dam crest access road and final stabilization of the site with permanent seeding and mulching.

Ronald Franks Construction has approximately 25 employees working on the job under the direction of Eddie Johnson, project manager and Mike Busby, dirt work superintendent. The engineer for the project is J.R. Wauford & Company, based in Nashville, Tenn.

Moving Dirt With Satellites

“We are using Caterpillar D5N, D6N and D6R dozers. Our primary dirt moving involves pulling John Deere 1812C dirt pans with John Deere 9000 series tractors for short-haul dirt or loading Volvo A35E articulated trucks with a Hitachi 450 trackhoe on long haul dirt,” Ellsworth said. “The rip-rap is being installed with a Caterpillar 330D excavator. We are also using a John Deere 544J loader to load 3,000-pound bags of bentonite into a custom-designed Stoltzfus bentonite spreader. The concrete crew is using a Case 580 backhoe/loader, a Link-Belt crawler crane and a Grove truck crane.”

The company is utilizing a Topcon Total Station, Topcon Hiper GA base station, Hiper GA rover, Topcon data collectors, and Topcon 3D-MC2 machine control purchased from Earl Dudley Associates (EDA) in Nashville, Tenn., on this job. EDA also is providing service and support for this GPS equipment, which has enhanced speed and accuracy on the job.

“The 3D-MC2 on their Cat D6N dozer helps the operator to move dirt faster and more accurately without a surveyor having to put stakes in the ground,” EDA’s Rob Binder observed. “The operator has a computer in the cab that tells him how much dirt to cut or fill and he also has the ability to run automatics so when switched on the blade automatically hugs the design surface.”

“In my opinion, GPS has revolutionized how we move dirt,” Ellsworth stated. “This company was the first in western Tennessee to upgrade to Topcon 3D-MC2 machine control, and we have seen significant production gains.

“I’m proud that RFC stands behind me in taking risks such as investing in our GPS technology and machine control,” he added. “Looking toward the future we will add more machine control to our pieces of equipment. There simply is no way a dirt crew without GPS machine control can keep up with a dirt crew equipped with it. You simply are much more efficient with GPS technology, regardless of operator skill level, and here at RFC we have the best operators to begin with.”

Under the terms of its contract Ronald Franks Construction has 455 calendar days to complete the job for the Watershed Authority. The company was able to make suggestions that saved several hundred thousand dollars before it started the project in late September 2008. It is ahead of schedule despite a wet and cold winter, which made concrete pouring more difficult, and anticipate substantial completion by early December 2009.

The Largest Man-Made Lake in Western Tennessee

The project has several noteworthy and unusual aspects.

“First is the size. This will be the largest man-made lake in western Tennessee and not many of this size have been built anywhere in recent history,” Ellsworth pointed out. “Secondly, this lake has many unique safety features, including the slurry cut-off wall, blanket drain system, and bentonite/soil core. Lastly, the primary intake and discharge structures have the capability to drain a large percentage of the lake safely in just a few days if need be.”

In addition, the slurry cut-off wall is a specialty that only two contractors in the United States were approved to perform. RFC subcontracted the job to Slurry Systems Inc., of Gary, Ind. All erosion control measures will be undertaken by RFC’s subcontractor Erosion Control Services of Milan, with RFC performing the rest of the work itself.

“As a dirt moving contractor RFC is fairly young, but we have built several dams in the past, albeit none this large,” Ellsworth said. “The concrete and ductile iron piping part of the project for the intake and discharge structures and the spillway is being handled by the heavy industrial division of the company, which has many years of experience including construction/retrofits of many wastewater treatment plants.”

Protecting the Lake

Once completed, stringent measures will be taken to preserve the beauty of, and access to, this new lake. The Carroll County Watershed Authority will own a 50-ft. (15.2 m) buffer area measured from the highest watermark, while the Carroll County Commissioners have approved zoning regulations on permitted usage of land surrounding the lake. These steps will protect the lake as well as current and future housing edging it.

Thus, while junkyards and adult-oriented businesses will not be permitted, residences, churches and other acceptable structures will be allowed, although new residential units must meet specific requirements relating to, for example, septic systems and spacing between dwellings.

In summing up, Ellsworth stated the company is extremely proud of this project.

“We are also very proud of our crews working on the job, they are the best anywhere, and our erosion control subcontractor is second to none,” he continued. “J. R. Wauford & Company has also been a great engineer to work with, and we would like to thank the Carroll County Watershed Authority for the foresight to build such a great lake, which will be an asset to all of western Tennessee.” CEG