The noise of helicopters hovering overhead had been a weekly occurrence for Brian Kimbrell and his crews working to install all of the exterior lighting at the new Arizona Cardinals NFL football stadium being built in Glendale, Ariz. Since talk of a possible site began, the much-anticipated Cardinals Stadium had been making media headlines.
“This was probably one of the most high-priority jobs that we had done,” Kimbrell, chief project manager for Kimbrell Electric Inc., also based in Glendale, said. “There was really no option for not getting the job done on time. The job would have been done at any cost and at any expense because they were not just going to call an NFL football game off.”
The Cardinals opened its new home before the start of the 2006 NFL season because of work done by Kimbrell’s crew.
Fixture of Phoenix Area
Kimbrell Electric, a fixture of the Phoenix area for more than 25 years, had become accustomed to working under pressure and being in the limelight. The family-owned-and-operated company had installed exterior lighting for several major projects in the Phoenix metro area, including the Glendale Arena at Westgate City Center, Rio Vista Park, and Mesa Arts Center.
The electric company started in the Midwest. Kimbrell said his grandfather, Jim Kimbrell, founded the company under a different name in Michigan and that the family later moved the business to the Phoenix area.
Today, the company is owned by Jim Kimbrell’s sons, John and Paul, and employs more than 100 people.
Part of the reason for the company’s growth has been the substantial development of the Phoenix metro area over the past 10 years. As the city’s suburbs have sprawled to include more than just snowbirds, there had been a greater demand for new roads and parks, which meant a need for new streetlights, traffic signals, and plaza lighting.
“The amount of work had at least doubled, if not tripled over the past few years,” Brian Kimbrell said. “We are strictly an outdoor lighting company. We did basically all of the work within 5 feet of a building.”
Kimbrell Electric used underground equipment including several Vermeer ride-on trenchers — a V8550A, an RT650, and three RT450s. Crews had the machines dig the trenches for running the electrical conduit lines. In addition, the company also owns several backhoes, a crane truck, and bucket and water trucks.
All of the trenchers were being used for the installation of more than 450 light poles at the new Cardinals Stadium.
When it was announced that the Arizona Cardinals football team would receive a new stadium, Kimbrell Electric was one of approximately eight exterior lighting contractors selected to bid on the project. Kimbrell Electric submitted the lowest bid. “Basically, we were responsible for all of the parking lot lighting, street/roadway lighting, and all of the exterior plaza lighting,” Kimbrell said.
Well aware of their pressing deadline, Kimbrell said they rented a Vermeer T755 COMMANDER II track trencher to help increase productivity in digging the trench for the main electrical feed. Crews used the T755 COMMANDER II to dig a 30-in.-wide (76.2 cm) and 48-in.-deep (121.9 cm) trench that would house three 2-in. (5 cm) conduits for the main feed. “The total work that it did was pretty small in scale to the entire job, but any hours or days that we could pick up are days we didn’t have to worry about,” Kimbrell said.
Once the conduit for the main electrical feed was installed, Kimbrell Electric crews hopped onto the ride-on trenchers, which were all stationed at the job site, and began digging trenches for the branch circuits that would run from the main electrical feed to all of the parking lot and plaza light poles. For the branch circuits, crews dug a trench that is 6 in. (15.24 cm) wide and 36 in. (91.4 cm) deep and then installed numerous 1-in. (2.54 cm) conduits. Most of the runs between the light poles were approximately 200 ft. (60.96 m) long, and Kimbrell said they usually used the RT650 and RT450 ride-on trenchers for this task, unless they ran into harder ground conditions.
The Southwest is known for its rocky ground conditions, so it was not surprising that, at times, the soil posed a challenge for Kimbrell Electric crews. The way in which the stadium was constructed also contributed to the ground conditions. When the area was excavated to make room for the stadium’s foundation, that soil was then spread across the parking lot and plaza area in order to make grade. Much of that soil consisted of cobble, rock, and sand. So to battle through some of the tougher ground conditions, Kimbrell said they used the V8550A ride-on trencher, which is powered by a 90 hp (67 kW) engine. “You can jump on the V8550A and it will cut through the ground a lot better in some instances where there’s a lot of cobble,” he said.
On the RT450 and RT650 ride-on trenchers, Kimbrell said they matched the machines’ digger chain setups to the ground conditions. Both models were equipped with a rotary cutter chain setup for optimal productivity in the rocky soil. In conjunction with the trenchers, Kimbrell Electric crews also were using a Vermeer TC4A trench compactor, which delivered 16,000 lbs. (7,257.5 kg) of shaker force. “With the amount of trench that had been opened up, maintaining compaction was very important,” Kimbrell said.
In all, Kimbrell said they had a total of 12 to 14 mi. (19 to 22 km) of trench to dig for the Cardinals Stadium project before the football team’s Aug. 12 preseason home game. As many as 25 Kimbrell Electric employees had worked 10 hours a day, six days a week in order to complete installation of the 450-plus exterior light poles before deadline. So far, Kimbrell said the seven-month project is on schedule.
“We were probably out there right up to our deadline,” Kimbrell said.