James Emery, county engineer, and other Troup County engineers make the final adjustments needed just minutes before the machines started rolling.
Troup County, Ga., boaters and anglers have a new spot to ply their trade these days, due to the combined efforts of the Go Fish Georgia Initiative and a team of Cat bulldozers at West Point Lake.
The initiative was developed to improve access to Georgia waters, increase fishing participation and improve the quality of fishing in the state.
“We started thinking about this over two years ago, planning for the Governor’s Go Fish grant to build mega boat ramps in the state of Georgia. I believe there were six grants that were awarded for ramps and this was one of them,” said James R. Emery Jr., P.E., County Engineer of Troup County (Georgia) Department of Roads and Engineering.
Troup County, in conjunction with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources), was responsible for the project.
“The actual design that went into this boat ramp push was in the works for probably four or five months. We did all the design and all the construction in house with myself, and our lead engineer, Kevin Kinnersley, P.E., a civil engineer that works in our department for Troup County,” said Emery.
“We all worked together on this, including the road supervisor, Doug Smith and the project foreman, Charles Brock. A lot of brainstorming went on for months on exactly how to design this to make it happen. We did a lot of research on other ramps that have been built over the years. We looked at all sorts of options aside from pushing the ramp. But we determined that the best option was to push the ramp in.”
The actual launch of the boat ramp required the combined efforts of three Cat D7s pushing the concrete structure with two Cat D6s behind the row of D7s pushing steel beams affixed to the boat ramp for additional push power and slab buckling resistance.
The largest boat ramp ever pushed into place, this ramp is more than triple the maximum sized ramp that is typically pushed into place, according to Emery.
“Fifty feet is the typical maximum that has been used in the past,” Emery said. “This ramp is 43 feet wide and 160 feet long; its nominal thickness is 6 inches and the total mass of the push was 324 tons.”
The County crews attached 2 each 70 and 50 ft. (21 and 15 m) W14 x 132 beams to the topside of the ramp for added “push power” and to prevent upward buckling of the slab. The two parallel beams provided by David Wild of Wild Heavy Haul, LaGrange, Ga in conjunction with Southwest Industrial Rigging, Phoenix, Ariz. coupled with two junction boxes, spreader bar and associated rigging weighed in at over 19 tons.
Greasing the Way
The ramp contained a total of 150 cubic yards (115 cubic meters) of reinforced concrete, which was poured on top of corrugated sheet metal. The sheet metal sat on top of three layers of plastic.
“We used vegetable oil in between the layers of plastic. We used approximately 45 gallons of vegetable oil and this allowed the plastic to easily move during the push,” Emery explained.
“This is the second ramp that we recently pushed in the lake. The first ramp push was 234 tons and was 43 feet wide and 120 feet long. The first one went very smoothly, the second not so smoothly. But the final outcome was 100 percent success. This one took about 3 ? minutes to push into place and we were expecting it to take 1? minutes. The first one took a minute and 15 seconds. This one was slower and there was a lot more digging in of tracks of the machines. We were hoping for a little bit smoother push than that, but there are just so many variables on a job like this that you just can’t nail down everything 100 percent. But overall we’re extremely pleased,” Emery said.
“I felt very confident about this job and didn’t have a problem getting a good night sleep before this. I probably would have been a little nervous about this if the first ramp push hadn’t gone so well. We felt good about this one.”
Working Under Water
Pushing the ramp into the water may have been the easy part of the job.
“The grade under water was the more difficult part of this project. The grade on dry land was pretty much all clay with a real thin layer of a GAB [graded aggregate base] rock on top of it. Under water, we used a #57 stone. We designed the grade after topo-ing the bottom of the lake to determine exactly what our existing grade is. We designed a finish grade that would require no cut, only fill. The fill that we placed, we placed with a homemade hopper on a barge,” Emery explained.
Crews placed 1.3 cu. yds. (0.99 cu m) of #57 stone at a time, and calculated placement to get to the proper depth.
“We started at the bottom of where the ramp was to be placed and dumped 1.3 cubic yards and we calculated the depth that we needed and how much horizontal that would cover and then we moved in by that much and dumped another 1.3 cubic yards. Then, we measured again the depth that we needed and calculated the amount that would be covered and moved in by that much horizontally again. It was an iterative process. We had to make all of those calculations iteratively for the whole area. It was about 110 feet wide by 160 feet long area under water that we graded that way. Our hopper was 7 feet wide and was made out of an old dump truck bed mounted on a barge. We cut profiles every 7 feet all the way across that area and we used those profiles to measure the depth that we needed.” Emery said.
A Cat 325 excavator was used to grade underwater, but only as far as it could reach in the water.
“That was an interesting process. The operator couldn’t see anything underwater. As soon as the bucket went under water a little mud gets stirred up and [the operator] can’t see where the end of the bucket is. So what we did, we set the machine on a flat 12 percent grade up out of the water and we lowered the bucket until the tines barely touched the ground and we marked where that was on the arm where the operator could see it in the cab. Then he raised his bucket up, walked the machine into the water at the 12 percent grade and lowered the bucket to that elevation to that exact point and then walked it back out on the 12 percent grade and it pulled a 12 percent underwater grade that we needed,” Emery said.
“That was for the first 50 feet or so of where we needed the 12 percent. With a 160-foot ramp, the rest of it we had to do with precise placement of the #57 stone with the hopper on the barge. #57 stone is 100 percent compaction when you place it in water and also has the unique characteristic of ’flowing’ real well when it is wet. So, as the slab went in and screeded that #57 stone, it just screeded it flat and filled in the gaps as it went in the water. It virtually skidded the #57 stone and pilled up gravel in front of it as it went in and just screeded it off and laid right on top of the #57 stone.”
Troup County supplied two of the Cat D7 dozers used, while a third was provided by the city of LaGrange, Ga. One Cat D6 came from the DNR Fish & Wildlife Department, and a D6 from a local contractor, Larry Garner of Larry Garner Construction, LaGrange, Ga.
“Larry loaned us the machine just to be a part of this project,” Emery said.
Troup County worked with Yancey Caterpillar on checking drawbar pull for different machines.
“They have a lot of good resources that we could use online to get a general idea of what kind of drawbar pull to expect. They had the graphs we needed to show us the drawbar pull at different speeds of the machine. Interesting to note that the maximum drawbar pull is at the minimum speeds. So at zero mph you have the most drawbar pull. The D7’s at 100,000 pounds each and the D6s at 60,000 pounds each and with the friction factors we calculated, we thought we had a good margin of safety there to push with those five machines,” Emery said.
“This was not something that we could get a full complete design with all specs and details up front. It was something that we really designed as we went along. A lot of adjustments to the plan were needed all along the way. It was a real unique project.”
About Yancey Bros.
Founded in 1914 by brothers Goodloe and Earle Yancey, Yancey Bros. Co. began as the Yancey Hardware Company, selling hardware, picks, shovels and prison uniforms (stripes) to government agencies — especially county prisons — for road construction.
Currently in its fourth generation of Yancey leadership, the dealership now has two divisions: Yancey’s Machine Division and Yancey’s Engine Division.
Yancey’s Machine Division provides products and services to the aggregates, industrial, mining, governmental, waste, construction, forestry and road construction industries. Yancey’s Engine Division serves the electric power, marine, industrial and transportation industries.
Yancey Cat has locations in Georgia and Alabama.
Go Fish Georgia Initiative
The purpose of the Go Fish Georgia Initiative is to promote and enhance boating and fishing tourism and to boost economic development in communities across the state, according to the Initiative’s Web site.
The Go Fish Georgia Initiative will improve access to Georgia’s waters by the development of the Georgia Bass Trail. This 15-stop trail will provide a statewide system of large boating access areas capable of supporting large tournament events, and normal boating and fishing activities on major water bodies. Each site will provide its own unique bass fishing experience. Sites and facilities will vary in size depending on the size of the water body.
The Go Fish Georgia Initiative also will promote family friendly fishing opportunities by developing new boating access to water bodies in Georgia where access currently limits fishing and other uses. It also will improve access to currently under-utilized smaller reservoirs that have untapped fishing potential as well as add amenities and improve.
For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/fishing/go-fish-georgia. CEG