The Caterpillar 320F excavator, among other equipment, will be used for excavation, hauling, spreading and compacting the fill material.
(Scott Fleming photo)
Construction crews in Birmingham, Ala., are working to complete a facility designed to better serve local veterans. The Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center mental health clinic will combine services into one location when it opens late next year.
"The new facility will give our veterans easier access to care, provide more services and put everything under one roof," said Stacy Vasquez, Birmingham Veterans Affairs Health Care System (BVAHCS) director. "It will be a one-stop shop for our veterans in mental health treatment."
The two-story clinic will provide services to nearly 25,000 veterans each year. The 60,000-sq.-ft. facility will offer new resources not available at the current VA hospital.
Birmingham-based contractor Hoar Construction has partnered with national developer US Federal Properties Co. LLC of Kansas City, Mo., and architect Hoefer Wysocki of Leawood, Kan., to build the structure.
"This project shows how much the VA is concerned about doing everything possible to improve the lives of our veterans," said Vasquez. "As they work on their mental health concerns, this will have a significant effect on their relationships with their families and loved ones."
The new clinic, under construction on Crestwood Boulevard, will provide room for expansion of services within mental health to improve the VA's continuum of care. The location, with easily accessible parking, was chosen based on its proximity to the medical center, the location next to the interstate system, the amenities in the area and the availability of public transportation in the area.
Providing for the mental health needs and well-being of those who have served is a top priority for officials, who believe serving the mental health needs of veterans honors their service and makes their transition from the military back into the community easier.
Veterans will be offered programs such as suicide prevention, outpatient general mental health, a mental health day program, outpatient group psychotherapy, outpatient psychiatry, in-home intensive case management, a mental health new patient clinic, telehealth programs, peer support, homeless programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment and specialty care in PTSD.
Site work started on the project in May 2020, following the successful demolition of the existing hotel on site.
Local officials are pleased to see development of the project moving forward, as it will increase the types of services provided to area veterans and will give them a comfortable and modern facility for their treatment.
According to Greg Cross, Hoar Construction senior project manager, the main challenges tied to the project are coordinating installation of the underground detention system and associated storm pipe in conjunction with the modular retaining wall on the east side of the project.
"Another challenge was extending the sanitary sewer main 500 feet in the middle of Montclair Road," said Cross. "The laterals off the sewer main also crossed an existing 16-inch gas main that ran parallel to the sewer main."
As for current activity, site demolition has already been performed, while mass grading is nearing completion. Work on the retaining walls, storm drainage, sanitary sewer and water is well under way, with work not yet started on curb and paving.
"We are currently working on the retaining wall on the east side of the project, storm drainage and bringing the east side of the project to subgrade, which will be the last remaining significant fill for the project," said Cross.
Significant tasks already completed include turning over the building pad, work on the sanitary sewer main extension, the sewer lateral tie-in to the Comfort Inn, the connection to the Irondale water system, the underground detention installation and starting the largest retaining wall on the east side of the project.
The remaining key tasks are finishing the retaining walls, installing the remainder of the storm system, connecting the new building to the sanitary sewer system, connecting the new building to the local water system, installing curb and gutter dense grade base and asphalt paving.
"The main concern is making sure you are keeping your employees safe by building the project in accordance with OSHA standards," said Cross, who added that the elements also are a factor during construction.
"The weather during this time of year can be challenging, mainly due to the heavy rains that are received in a short amount of time. This means that you have to make sure all erosion control devices are in good working order, and are installed in the appropriate place, in order to control silt from potentially leaving the site.
The most time-consuming part of the project will be constructing the retaining walls and installing all the underground piping. Prior to the start of construction, two aging hotels and office buildings occupied the property. Site preparation is ongoing.
"Excavation work can be challenging at times, due to the constant changing site conditions and coordination with other subcontractors onsite," said Cross. "The most intriguing part of site work is that no project is exactly the same, as there is always a new and different challenge to tackle."
Main equipment being used on the project includes:
- Komatsu D61 dozer
- Caterpillar D5 and D3 dozers
- Caterpillar 320F and 320E excavators
- Hamm 84-in. sheepsfoot roller
- Hamm smooth drum roller
- Caterpillar 289 skid steer
- Komatsu PC160 excavator
- Caterpillar 420 backhoe
- Caterpillar 305.5 excavator
- Komatsu PC35 excavator
- Caterpillar 140H motor grader
- Caterpillar 725 articulated truck.
The Caterpillar 320F excavator, Caterpillar 725 articulated truck, Komatsu D61 dozer and the Hamm sheepsfoot roller will be used for excavation, hauling, spreading and compacting the fill material.
The smaller excavators, including the Komatsu PC160, Komatsu PC35 and the Caterpillar 305.5, are required to install smaller storm pipe and water lines.
The smaller dozers, such as the Caterpillar D3K, and the Caterpillar 140H motor grader are needed for fine grading the site. CEG