Missouri Valley Line Constructors Build New Training Facility in Iowa

Wed January 08, 2020 - Midwest Edition #1
Lori Tobias – CEG CorrespondEnt


Heavy equipment in one form or another will remain a big part of the 46-acre site even after construction is complete.
Heavy equipment in one form or another will remain a big part of the 46-acre site even after construction is complete.
Heavy equipment in one form or another will remain a big part of the 46-acre site even after construction is complete. The Missouri Valley Line Constructors and Apprenticeship and Training Program is building a $13.5 million facility to train apprentice linemen, traffic signal technicians and substation technicians from seven states. Construction is scheduled for completion in September 2020. The 50,000-sq.-ft. building, to be constructed of pre-engineered steel with a precast concrete face, will house an indoor climbing facility with 60-ft. poles, as well as two different “hot” labs.

Linemen have one of the most dangerous jobs out there, and now apprentices from the Missouri Valley region will have one of the best places in the country to learn their trade. The Missouri Valley Line Constructors and Apprenticeship and Training Program is building a $13.5 million facility to train apprentice linemen, traffic signal technicians and substation technicians from seven states — Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin — in Indianola, Iowa.

"We basically just outgrew our current facility with the demand of linemen growing rapidly," said Robbie Foxen, executive director of the program. "We just need a large building and larger training site to simulate the jobs they will be tasked with in the field. We've gone through the groundbreaking. They've dug footers, poured foundations and they had to remove a lot of dirt. Onsite, right now there's a large track hoe and Cat-type dozers leveling the site. There's a big concrete pump truck to do 140 yards of concrete pumping. We have a couple of large pours a week with foundations and the curb of the building — what the building sits on. No large cranes yet. But once the building shows up, they'll be using those to erect that on site."

Heavy equipment in one form or another will remain a big part of the 46-acre site even after construction is complete.

A 100-ft. by 100-ft. concrete pad will serve as the crane training center to certify linemen in accordance with the Electrical Industry Certification Association. The school will buy its own crane, likely a 29-ton Manitex, Foxen said.

"Linemen have to use cranes for setting large electrical components, like switch gears, steel towers and erecting steel poles," he said. "We do have operators in the line field, but a lot of time they are not available so linemen and apprentices can run the crane, but have to be certified."

The 50,000-sq.-ft. building, to be constructed of pre-engineered steel with a precast concrete face, will house an indoor climbing facility with 60-ft. poles, as well as two different "hot" labs where apprentices will be able to energize powerlines in real time scenarios. They'll learn how to hook up lines and de-energize them. The second lab will be a 6,000-sq. ft. "rubber glove" lab, where apprentices will learn to work with rubber gloves, a tool for handling high voltage.

"We also will have a simulator room," Foxen said. "These are Vortex simulators on which apprentices can learn to operate a backhoe, excavator, rough terrain crane and boom truck crane. It's a computer simulator, sort of like a flight simulator. You actually sit in it and you have the controls to the equipment. The seat moves, the controls are just like on a crane or excavator. There are 5, 55-in. TV screens all around the driver. It's pretty realistic. There are six different tasks on each piece of equipment. It times the apprentices and records everything they do. It's top of the line but getting more and more common."

Construction is scheduled for completion in September 2020. CEG