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Sanders Utility Tackles Tough Waterline Work

Tue May 31, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Mary Reed

It’s been said that utility work is sometimes dull but such is not the case with an ongoing South Carolina project where safety concerns include keeping an eye open for rattlesnakes.

Sanders Utility Construction Company Inc., Charlotte, N.C., is working in a remote rural area of upstate South Carolina to install a cross-country waterline bringing fresh water to Greenville, S.C., from a reservoir in the foothills near Travelers Rest.

“This is a pipe replacement project for the current two 30-inch raw water transmission mains from Table Rock Reservoir,” said Mike Sharpless, manager of capital programs, Greenville Water System (GWS). “Main No. 1 was constructed in 1930 and Main No. 2 was constructed in 1939. One 42-inch pipe has the same capacity as two 30-inch pipes.”

The waterline, officially known as the Table Rock Raw Water Transmission Main Contract 102, involves laying about 8 mi. (12.8 km), which is approximately 42,000 linear ft. (12,801 m), of 42-in. (106 cm) DIP raw water transmission line for the GWS from Table Rock Reservoir to a pumping station on SR 288.

Sanders is the prime general contractor for the $10 million job, which GWS is funding by means of water rates and revenue bonds. Sanders is installing the pipes and valves on this project, as well as handling excavation, backfill and blasting and excavation of rock under the direction of Project Engineer Jordan Adams and Project Superintendent Steve Sanders. The engineering firm on the project is Arcadis US Inc., Charleston, S.C.

The project not only involves laying waterline across difficult terrain, but also reportedly necessitates staying alert for wild hogs as well as rattlesnakes. In addition, cell phone reception at the job site is limited and spotty, leading to occasional difficulties in communication.

Then there is the matter of getting equipment to the workers.

“Although the job is somewhat remote, access to the main portion of the job is not as hard as you might think,” said Frederick M. Young Jr., vice president of Sanders Utility Construction. “The equipment was brought to the job site from Charlotte via I-85, I-26 and Highway 11 with normal oversize/overweight permits from the appropriate authorities.

“This did not present any abnormal technical challenges,” he went on. “However, once on the job some of the right-of-ways are particularly difficult to access and get into, especially with pipe and materials like stone, etc. All of our crew vehicles are four-wheel drive and some use of ATV’s is being made to access the longer right-of-ways to bring lightweight tools in and limit the number of trips in and out that the crew vehicles make per day.”

With a work force varying between 15 and 20 on site, approximately 95 percent of the water line has been constructed. Work on the project began in January 2010, and despite a slight delay caused by the weather the project is on schedule for its estimated completion date of July 2011.

As of April 2011 almost 7.5 mi. (12 km) of pipe were in the ground; three river crossings had been completed; and several roads had been crossed and repaved.

Excavators on the job are exclusively from Komatsu, and include PC750LC-7, PC400LC-8, PC308USLC-3, PC300LC-6 wide track, and PC220LC-7 models, as well as a PC200LC-8 with John Henry Drill attached. While the majority of loaders at work also were manufactured by Komatsu, John Deere 544 and Caterpillar 921 loaders are also represented on site.

The equipment was provided by the Charlotte, N.C., branch of Linder Industrial Machinery Company. Sanders is a long-time customer of the company, having purchased excavators, wheel loaders and crawler dozers from Linder for a number of years.

“Sanders Utility Construction has been a very loyal customer of Linder Industrial Machinery, formerly Mitchell Distributing Co., for almost 50 years,” said Linder salesman Bill Cross. “They found a niche market in difficult waterline and sewer line construction years ago. Steve Sanders once joked with me, ’The harder and more difficult the job conditions are, the more we like it.’ Their innovative management team allows them to develop creative construction methods unique to each job. This has helped them to build a reputation of being one of the most professional and well-qualified utility construction companies in the Carolinas by consistently completing their jobs efficiently and on schedule, despite demanding conditions. This is the legacy left to them by their founder, Dewey Sanders who passed away five years ago, that they steadfastly protect and maintain. Over the years they have used many different types of equipment but one lesson they have proven again and again is that Komatsu excavators continue to be one of the most reliable and cost-efficient machines available in today’s market.”

One of the problems to be overcome for this project was dealing with three major river or creek crossings along the route of the water line.

“We resolved these difficulties through the use of major pump bypasses and Dammit Dams, inflatable water-filled cofferdams. They turned out to be the perfect solution for our river crossings, giving us good flexibility for some tough conditions,” Young said, adding “The Komatsu excavators work hard for us day in and day out, taking the equipment worries away on a day-to-day basis.”

Sanders has engaged only a handful of subcontractors for this project. The companies involved are Foster Clearing & Chipping Company of Gastonia, N.C., (clearing and grubbing); Tobin Construction LLC, Hilton Head, S.C., (seeding and erosion control); Starling Construction Inc., Wingate, N.C., (concrete forming for valve vaults); Crenshaw Asphalt Paving Inc., Pickens, S.C., (finish paving for road impact areas). Some stone hauling is being carried out by Peloton Inc., based in Wellford, S.C.

Sanders Utility Construction is a family-owned and run business based in Charlotte, N.C., and operating primarily in the Carolinas since 1957. Hazel Sanders, company president, brings 35 years of experience in office management for construction and handles the company’s busy office with her daughters Patti and Sheri. Steve Sanders also is the secretary-treasurer. Gary Witherspoon is boring/tunneling superintendent and assistant vice president and Frederick Young is the company vice president, estimator and project manager.

Projects similar to the Table Rock Raw Water Transmission Main Contract 102 include SWWM B-1 in Charlotte, N.C., for Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities (CMU), a 48-in. steel water main that was 20,000 linear ft. (6,096 m) long; SWWM B-2 in Charlotte, N.C., also for CMU, a 48-in. (121 cm) steel water main that was 15,000 linear ft. (4,572 m) long; and a recent project in Charlotte, N.C., the McAlpine Creek Relief Sewer Line, which Sanders did as a joint venture with BRS Inc., Richfield, N.C. That job involved running 8,700 ft. (2,651 m) of 78-in. (198 cm) sewer line through rock, floods and water infiltration as well as eight creek crossings, two major tunnels (under I-485 and Hwy. 51), 21 10-ft. (3 m) diameter manholes and 11 8-ft. (2.4 m) diameter manholes.

Linder Industrial Machinery Company has been in business for 58 years. With 16 locations in key cities throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, Linder is a full service dealer supporting many markets and industries. In addition to being one of the largest Komatsu dealers in North America, Linder represents many other lines of equipment including Wirtgen milling machines; Vogele pavers; Hamm compaction products; Kleemann crushing products; Exodus material handlers; Atlas Copco hydraulic attachments; Genesis demolition and scrap attachments; Esco and Hensley.

For more information on Linder Industrial Machinery, please visit or CEG

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