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Roadwork Boom Sparks Expansion at Tensar Corp.

Fri August 04, 2006 - Southeast Edition
Lisa Coston



It’s business as usual for the manufacturing employees of the Atlanta-based Tensar Corporation, even with the $16.5-million expansion of nearly 60,000 sq. ft. (5,574 sq m) to the existing 172,000-sq.-ft. (15,980 sq m) manufacturing plant, located on an 18-acre (7.3 ha) site in Morrow, GA, approximately 15 miles south of downtown Atlanta.

Since the expansion construction work began in February, Tensar’s workers have continued the production of Tensar Biaxial (BX) Geogrid, the key component of the Company’s Spectra Roadway Improvement System that is produced at the existing plant.

At the same time, the plant employees work side-by-side with construction workers from Peachtree City-based design-build firm Tiernan & Patrylo, who are busy excavating, clearing ground and erecting the new pre-fabricated building addition.

Under the direction of Scott Worley, project manager for Tiernan & Patrylo, SR Grading from Greer, SC, took care of grading and filling using Cat D10 dozers, with sheeps-foot rollers.

“We mass graded approximately 60,000 square feet of building pad area, which included hauling in 1,000 cubic yards of fill,” said Worley. “We also enlarged the existing storm pond and regraded the adjacent areas. This was all done while working next to the ongoing operations of Tensar.”

While excavating the pond, they came upon an obstacle that turned out to be a useful addition to the enlargement.

“We encountered lots of large boulders while excavating the pond and installing underground utilities,” Worley said. “To save the owner money, we lined the detention pond with them.”

In order to do that, Worley explained that the team used Cat excavators with breaker bits, in order to split the boulders, remove them and replace them around the outside of the pond. The construction team also was able to take bad soil that was found, dry it, and reuse it within the job site.

What Tensar employees will see in the reflection of the new retaining pond, will be a 59,000-sq.-ft. (5,500 sq m) pre-fabricated, pre-engineered metal building, which will house new equipment along with the relocation of existing manufacturing equipment from the current plant.

Much of the work on the building has taken place, including the installation of a new roof by MidSouth Roofing, but the installation didn’t come without its own setbacks and problems.

“It just happened to be that when they cut in to tie the roof to the other existing roof, an inch of rain fell in about 20 minutes, and it damaged a lot of the electronic equipment,” said Tensar’s Vice President of Operations Bennett Suggs.

Even with that setback, the new plant building is complete.

“We installed retaining wall foundations and piers,” said Worley. “We poured a 7-foot double wired hardened concrete floor…and the plant has six deep pits with several adjacent trenches.”

He estimates that more than 2,500 cu. yds. (1,911 cu m) of concrete has been poured for the floor, trenches and pits, with help from Bird Concrete and contractor Tony Beasley.

These pits and trenches will be used by the manufacturing employees, as they create the Tensar Biaxial Geogrid, which serve as aggregate fill interact to create a stiffer composite structure for pavement.

According to Tensar, these geogrids create pavement that’s more economical, better performing, more durable and predictable. These geogrids have been used by Utah, Texas and the Port of Baton Rouge in several road projects, as well as others across the United States and Canada.

“This expansion is a significant milestone in the history of our company. It will house the most modern and technologically advanced equipment used to make biaxial geogrid in the world,” said Phil Egan, president and CEO of the Tensar Corporation.

New Utilities Required

With a 30-person crew, working the day shift, the new plant building itself is finished, along with installing the underground utilities for the new plant.

Additions to the infrastructure, including the process piping and pits for steam trapping, implementation of two water tanks to chill the net below grade, as well as electrical wiring for all equipment, are currently taking place.

Subcontractors include Crawford Grading & Pipeline, Fire Line Utilities; GP Electrical, electrical work; Bates Mechanical, plumbing; Accurate Fire Protection, fire protection; and Anderson Erectors, metal building installers.

Worley commented that the subcontractors are all “excellent,” and he added that most of the equipment used on the project is subcontractor owned, but rented equipment came from branch locations of NationsRent, United Rentals and Newnan, GA-based Nickell Rental.

Both Suggs and Worley said that the installation of new equipment and the relocation of existing equipment started in June, and all of the manufacturing processes should be online by November 2006.

Though most in the community of Morrow probably won’t recognize, or realize that such a substantial change has happened at the Tensar plant, Suggs believes the impact of the new addition will benefit the community and the country.

“It’s something we can all be proud of,” Suggs said. “Our expansion will help keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S.”

According to Tensar, the expansion represents the plant’s largest capital equipment expenditure in its history, prompted in large part by significant, sales growth over the past five years.

Other factors include the passage of the $286.5 billion federal transportation bill in 2005, funding highway and mass transit programs through 2009 and increased infrastructure construction in Canada and Latin America. CEG