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Thibeault Tackles 10-Acre Excavation Three Months Early

Thu February 23, 2006 - Northeast Edition
Kate Zanoni



Time — or lack of it — is one of the biggest issues facing Thibeault Corporation of NE during the construction of a Meadowbrook Farms Plaza on Milford Road (Route 101-A) in Amherst, NH.

Normally, the excavation for this project would have taken 14 months, but Thibeault Corporation was selected for the job to complete the project three months sooner.

Construction began on July 15, 2005 and is scheduled for completion June 15, 2006.

A 200,000-sq.-ft. (18,581 sq m) Lowe’s will be the 10-acre plaza’s anchor store and 17 ancillary stores will be constructed on the site, including restaurants and specialty stores. A Staples will be among the ranks.

Several aspects of the job have been affected by the shortened time period. The parking lots were paved in December, which ordinarily would not be possible. However, New Hampshire experienced an usually warm winter and Continental Paving was willing to keep its asphalt plants open during the off-season.

The first phase of the project included the excavation of the entire 10-acres. In the excavation phase, the area was wooded and a logging company was contracted to remove the timber.

The elevation of the 10-acre site was just about even with the road level and there were no sharp hills or elevation changes on site. Therefore, the removal of materials during excavation was very limited.

Once cleared and excavated, 7,000 ft. (2,1336 m) of drainage needed to be laid, including seven leaching chambers and four underground sewage systems. Within the site, all sewer and drainage is self-contained. Also, 5,000 ft. (1,525 m) of water main was installed.

Seven thousand ft. (2,133.6 m) of underground electric also was laid along with 5 acres of paved parking.

Torey Company is the general contractor for Lowe’s and the site area is being developed by W.R. Weiner.

Once the Lowe’s structure was erected, Thibeault Corporation prepared the ground for the concrete slab floor.

Phase two of the project includes the construction of the additional 17 businesses.

Thibeault Corporation is one of the largest site contractors in New England, yet there have been times when the company has devoted a large share of its resources to the Lowe’s project to meet deadlines.

At peak, there were more than 35 pieces of construction equipment and more than 50 people working simultaneously on the site. Installation of underground utilities and pad preparation also were completed simultaneously.

In addition to site preparation and utilities installation, Thibeault Corporation also was responsible for widening a section of Route 101-A to create a turning lane for the plaza.

“One of the biggest challenges during the busier phases of construction was orchestrating the various projects that were ongoing in a limited space,” said Bob Corson, project manager of Thibeault Corporation.

“Scheduling the delivery of materials so that they did not interfere with other phases of the project [was also a challenge],” he added. “Even keeping material stockpiles out of the way of projects in various stages of completion was [difficult]. The huge amount of underground systems being installed created very limited workspaces. The project is a $5-million job and only a company the size of Thibeault Corporation could handle all of the intricacies of the project in the limited time period.”

Approximately 50,000 yds. (15,240 m) of material were brought into the site. Additional material was screened from dirt excavated on the site. The materials brought in included bedding for the underground utilities, gravels to be used as a sub-base on the roadways and structural slabs. Thibeault used its fleet of dump trailers and tri-axles to accomplish this task.

To finish the job on time, Thibeault crews are working 10 to 12-hour days, six days a week, and a sizeable amount of Komatsu.

“Our fleet numbers in the hundreds with about 80 percent of the earthmoving equipment consisting of Komatsu machines,” said Corson. “Most of the Komatsu machines were purchased from R.C. Hazelton, New Hampshire’s Komatsu dealer located in Manchester, with additional locations in Maine.

“The 300 Series excavator from Komatsu has been one of the favorite machines among the operators on this job site,” he added. “The machine is just large enough to handle large volumes of excavation, yet compact enough to fit in tight spots, making it one of the machines of choice among operators.

“The Komatsu PC 400LC-7, which [was] purchased new this year, is a monster of an excavator perfectly suited for moving large volumes of dirt and keeping Thibeault haul trucks refilled in short order,” said Corson.

According to Corson, the slab that was poured into the Lowe’s building was one of the largest slab preparation Thibeault has ever done.

“One of the keys in this project has been our Komatsu GB750A motorgrader, which is very well adapted to this type of work,” said Corson. “It is the perfect size for maneuvering within the structure and is easy for our crews to operate.

“Within the interior of the Lowe’s building, there are hundreds of support pillars coming down through the ground, which makes maneuvering room very tight,” he said. “The Komatsu grader has been up to the task.

“In general, we are very happy with our Komatsu equipment,” said Corson. “The machines have shown great reliability, offer operator comfort and they are user friendly. Over the last decade, we have seen dramatic improvements in the Komatsu products, which have led to it being our brand of choice.”

Along the backside of the job site, a turtle fence had to be erected. The fabric and mesh wire fence is only temporary during construction, but a permanent 600-ft. (182.9 m) long, 4-ft. (1.2 m) high chain link fence with slats will be installed upon project completion.

This fence is designed to keep a rare spotted turtle safe from the hazards of the construction environment and to prevent the animal from wandering into the commercial area in the future.

The turtle has a habitat in the Amherst area, near the Lowe’s site.

About Thibeault Corporation of NE

Ernie Thibeault founded Thibeault Corporation more than 20 years ago with one dump truck, one trailer and one excavator.

Currently, the company has approximately more than 200 employees, working primarily in New Hampshire. Some work also is done in Maine and Massachusetts. CEG