(L-R): McElhenney Construction’s VP of Operations John Bush; Project Manager Greg Elmore; and Project Superintendent Matt Averett talk with TEC’s Chris Howard about the Komatsu machines on the job site in Orange Beach, Ala.
McElhenney Construction Company, based in Mobile, Ala., is working towards rapid completion of a boat launch for Baldwin County, Ala. The project includes construction of six ramps for boat launching, approximately 8 acres of parking and boat mooring facilities around the perimeter of the inlet, with breakwaters on the end.
The total acreage of this county-owned property is approximately 40-plus acres, with just 20 of the acres being utilized for this construction. Parking for the project will be paved and there will be an additional 2 acres of graveled parking, restroom facilities and a future boardwalk.
"This was needed badly and will help to get boaters into the intercoastal canal towards Mobile Bay or to the Gulf of Mexico," McElhenney VP of Operations John Bush said. "A county engineer said this will be the largest boat launch facility on the entire Gulf Coast when finished."
For McElhenney Construction, this is a 120-working-day project, so speed and total accuracy is key to the construction.
"This needs to be finished by March of 2022 and be completely ready for the spring season," Bush said.
Rain has been a challenge for dirt work.
Prior to the mass earth moving that currently is under way, a crane was brought in to assist subcontractor Jordan Pile Driving in building a cofferdam. Overall totals for earthmoving are just over 100,000 cu. yds. in a somewhat short amount of time with rather wet material. Despite rain storm-after rain storm, the project is still on schedule and three of the six ramps have been poured.
Sixty thousand cu. yds. of the material will be hauled away from the site.
The company keeps a brisk pace and is working the site five days a week, at least 10 hours a day, with 10 to 12 employees. McElhenney Construction is self-performing all work for the project, with the exception of water/sewer, pile driving, associated mooring work and asphalt work. Mobile Asphalt has been selected to perform the asphalt work and Grant Nichols Construction will do the utilities work. Other marine work is being performed by Cassity Brothers Construction. Dredge work will be done by MD Thomas Construction.
The project began on June 1, 2021. To ensure rapid and precise completion, McElhenney Construction purchased a new Komatsu PC360LC and a new Komatsu D51PXi dozer to add to its existing fleet of Komatsu machines.
Complete and total accuracy is a necessity on the project, and three Komatsu D51PXi dozers and a Komatsu PC210LCi excavator, all Komatsu Intelligent Control Machines, are utilized extensively for continuous digging and grading work. Simultaneously with the earthmoving, approximately 2,000 ft. of various sized pipe is being installed by McElhenney for sewer and water and storm drain purposes.
Environmentally, McElhenney made sure all bases were covered, including placement of a turbidity curtain, which extends 6 ft. down into the water to prevent any turbid water from getting into the canal and was placed before any initial excavation was started.
When asked about the staff of its Komatsu dealer, Tractor & Equipment Co. (TEC)., McElhenney Construction's Bush said, "they're great to work with. There's a good reason you look around this job site and you pretty much see nothing but Komatsu. Everything else on the project is for the most part, a rental or a subcontractor's machine."
Bush went on to tout the service work of TEC and the attention to detail of service manager Robert Bush. He said that most of the company's machines are under the Komatsu Care program, so service work is performed after hours when machines are idle.
John Bush also gave high praise for others in the TEC organization.
"I've been working with Chris Howard, our TEC rep, since 2010 and we've become friends and he's been great to work with for all of our purchases.
"We run a lot of Topcon and TEC's technology rep, Richie Sievering, helps us to get the most out of our machine control and all of our electronics. He's only a phone call away. If we have any questions, he can walk us through any issues we might have."
Josh McElhenney, company owner, reinforced what Bush said and expounded on his thoughts by saying "TEC's customer care is far and above the others, and that means so much to us when we're trying to get something done. I feel like they're a part of our team and they take ownership in making sure you have great tractors, and great tractors that work. They get you what you need and that goes a long way."
All earth moving is being done through GPS and machine control systems.
"We won't drive the first stake on this job. There will be no hubs or blue tops, just machine control and electronics running from one base unit," said Bush.
Overall, the project seems to be going like clockwork.
At any given time, McElhenney Construction has around six different jobs going on at once. This one in Orange Beach is the largest of its current projects under way. Josh McElhenney attributes success on his projects to "really, really good people."
"They love to work" he said. "John [Bush], Matt [Averett] and Greg [Elmore] have done a great job to keep this project on schedule.
"This is a really cool project, and I'm proud that we got the opportunity to do it. We'll definitely do it right. We're going to use it ourselves when this is complete."
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