Utility Work Only the Start of A.J. Johns’ Assignment

Wed July 06, 2005 - Southeast Edition
Kate Zanoni

A bevy of A.J. Johns Inc. underground utility crews coordinated their efforts with dozens more of their colleagues at the 200-acre Sweetwater residential development in Jacksonville diligently completing their tasks before the 19-month contract ends in February.

At the peak of construction, approximately 80 workers were on site.

“It’s unusual to have five or six pipe crews working simultaneously, but it is necessary if we want to get the job done on time,” said Project Manager Kim Johns.

The contractor is in charge of every facet of the site’s construction. To assist with completing the project by the deadline, they’ve brought on more than 15 major subcontractors.

With so many people relying on one another in order to get the job done on time, Johns said proper scheduling is of the utmost importance. Timing of material deliveries and sustaining rates of production are crucial to keep all the pipe crews moving forward and ensuring that the critical path stays on target. If one part of the task is delayed, other crewmembers could be forced to wait until they can work on the next step.

The idea of coordinating the schedules of so many people becomes even more intimidating when you throw in some figures: 36,000 linear ft. of water main; 26,000 linear ft. of sewer main and 37,000 linear ft. of 12 in. to 72 in. storm drain.

What’s more, the Sweetwater site is just one of the approximately 40 sites at which A.J. Johns Inc.’s crews are working throughout Jacksonville and the surrounding counties.

The $19.5-million Sweetwater project will be the city’s first Del Webb development for residents older than 55. At its completion, it will include approximately 400 single family homes and approximately 50 multi-family units of carriage homes and condominiums, for a total of 997 units.

Johns said the schedule for the project is so tight because, “There’s a huge market for this type of development in Jacksonville and they’re selling them faster than we can turn them around.”

The contractor has been working since August 2004 to build the active adult community.

“It’s a big deal,” said Johns. “This is the first Del Webb community in Jacksonville and it’s exciting to be able to participate.”

A.J. Johns Inc. is currently preparing for the construction of a 21,000-sq.-ft. recreation center that will include an indoor/outdoor pool and shuffleboard. The community also will boast miles of sidewalks, extensive landscaping, tennis courts, open-air pavilions and parks.

As project manager, Johns oversees all four phases of the job, which include clearing, heavy earthmoving, roadwork, utility installation and closeout.

“The biggest challenge for us has been staying on schedule,” Johns said.

The Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have delayed issuing some permits, which made it difficult to stay on track, but A.J. Johns Inc. is working hard to ensure site development does not fall behind schedule, according to Johns.

Because there is so much work to be done in such a short period of time, A.J. Johns is using a wide array of equipment to finish the job, including the following machines:

• Volvo and John Deere off-road trucks

• John Deere, Hitachi, Komatsu, Kobelco and Volvo excavators

• John Deere, Volvo and Kawasaki loaders

• John Deere, Komatsu and Cat dozers

• John Deere and Cat motorgraders

• Dynapac, Sakai and Cat rollers

• Cat mixers

Johns said the project is worth all the effort.

“Jacksonville will finally have a retirement community for those who enjoy both indoor and outdoor activity. This kind of development is good for the entire community,” she said.

Sweetwater’s grand opening was celebrated June 30. CEG

Caption:Crews used a John Deere 450C to perform some of the excavating duties.

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