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Schneider Excavating Achieves Critical Base for Artificial Turf

Fri January 01, 2010 - Midwest Edition
Jeff Winke

“Our company slogan is, ’We dig your dirt,’” stated Steve Ristow, president of Schneider Excavating, Lannon, Wis. “It pretty much captures what we do.”

Not quite. Schneider Excavating has established itself as being more than just the average dirt pusher. No question that the slogan is snappier than saying, “We specialize in site development, building excavations, road building, subdivision grading, solid waste land fill and licensed hazardous waste hauling.”

The company considers itself a medium-size contractor “that gets to work on quite a few big projects.” The company owns approximately 80 pieces of equipment that include excavators, dozers, scrapers, off-road trucks, compactors, and motorgraders.

“We’ve actually established ourselves as being a precision fine-grading contractor,” Ristow said, “which is how we received this sports field project in Wauwatosa.”

The project is the Charles Hart Park sports field replacement, which is part of a city and privately-funded overhaul and expansion of Wauwatosa’s only city-owned park.

The old multi-purpose turf field was used for the city’s high school football games, soccer matches, baseball games and summer recreation department activities, as well as occasional music concerts. The field is encircled by a running track and every 4th of July the stands are filled for the city’s firework display. To say the field gets a workout, would be an understatement.

“We’re one of a number of contractors working in the 53-acre park this summer,” said Ristow.

Schneider Excavating is a subcontractor of Milwaukee-based Triad Construction.

The approximately two-acre, 90,575-sq.-ft. field and skirting was already cut out for Schneider, but required that the subgrade be graded prior to placing the free draining stone. The company used a John Deere 650H crawler dozer equipped with an Agtek grade control and Topcon HiperLite GPS all-in-one antenna/receiver indicate system to prepare the field. A 3/4-limestone TB leveling course was installed to stabilize the subgrade. A water-permeable, polyethylene fabric membrane was laid down after the subgrade was completed.

“Since the field is a free-draining design, we placed drain tiles on the membrane,” Ristow said. “The water drains to the perimeter of the field.”

Eight in. (20 cm) of free-draining, engineered fill was added next. The drainage fill is a man-made crushed limestone and sand.

As a prelude to the fine grading, the company ran a Caterpillar CS563 vibratory soil compactor after the fill was placed.

“The project requires extremely tight grade tolerances before the $400,000 artificial turf is laid,” said Ristow. “We need to achieve 1/4-inch tolerances within every 10 feet.”

Schneider Excavating’s Cat 140H motorgrader is equipped with Topcon mmGPS with laser enhancement.

“The machine operator has the 3D model we built right in the cab,” Ristow said. “The operator knows at all times where they are in completing the precision fine grading.”

The company had taken the paper and digital site plans that were provided and converted them to the 3D model required, which required three to four hours for a Schneider design technician to complete. Schneider also installed a Topcon HiperLite GPS receiver at Hart Park for a base station to support the motorgrader with the mmGPS system.

“The GPS machine control system allows us to complete the project quickly and accurately,” said Ristow. “We used our engineer, Fred Hartzheim, who also is a licensed professional engineer, to establish initial check points and to monitor the project for quality control.”

Schneider Excavating completed its part in the Wauwatosa Charles Hart Park sports field replacement project in four days.

“We achieved the precision 1/4-inch tolerances and a graded crown with a 1/2-percent pitch in the middle of the field.”

The artificial field turf representative inspected the results and provided his nod of approval, without hesitation.

Jeff Winke is a construction and technology writer based in Milwaukee, Wis. He can be reached at [email protected].

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