Smith Construction Relies on Efficiency Production Slide Rail System for Excavation Support
An Essential Support System: Slide Rail Shoring System Helps Smith Construction Install Lift Stations on Marquette Ojibwa Casino Expansion
As part of a more than $40 million expansion of the Marquette Ojibwa Casino, Smith Construction of Marquette, Michigan, used a sliding rail shoring system from Efficiency Production when installing three lift systems.
“They were excellent to work with,” says Todd Lajoye, Superintendent with Smith Construction of Marquette, Michigan.
Smith Construction completed the $3 million sanitary sewer project, installing three pump lift stations from 2018 through May 2019. The company also installed 5 miles of new sewage pipe, which was necessary to connect the casino with the municipal system.
The company used Efficiency Production’s shoring system for the 30-foot-deep shafts. The shafts reached 20 feet below the level of nearby Lake Superior. The company also used a dewatering system with vertical well points and a vacuum pump, with additional electrical pumps inside the shafts.
The Slide Rail System lent itself to the particulars of this project. The site was tight, without a lot of space to open an excavation and slope the hole. It was the first time Smith had worked with Efficiency Production.
Lajoye says the universal slide rail system held the dirt and sand back from entering the excavation, and he was pleased with the result.
The Shoring System
An employee of Efficiency Production of Mason, Michigan, helped set up the versatile universal Slide Rail System at the job site. It takes from one to two days to completely install the system. From ground breaking to completion of the shaft took about five days for each of the three shafts. The soil at the site consists of Great Lakes granular sand.
“Not many shoring systems can be used in that soil,” says Tim Hurst, Manager of the Special Ops Shoring Division Manager at Efficiency Production. “Slide Rail is one that works well when more traditional shoring systems will not do as well.”
The Slide Rail System uses vertical steel posts and steel panels, such as those used as trench shield sidewalls. The contractor installs the system by sliding the panels into rails on the posts and then pushing additional panels and posts down as the pit is dug. The panel and post system prevents trench wall loss, because it is installed gradually. Efficiency Production calls this a “dig and push” shoring system.
Efficiency’s Slide Rail System has the capacity to reach 32 feet. The company estimates rental and installation of the system costs about half that of steel sheeting. Additional benefits of the Slide Rail System are the lack of vibration to nearby structures, and the contractor can use smaller excavators due to the system’s lighter component pieces.
On the casino project, each shaft took about two days to dig and place the shoring system. The same slide rail equipment was used for all three shafts.
“One of the important advantages of a Slide Rail System over open-cutting is that there’s no over-digging; the excavation walls can be cut exactly vertical,” Hurst explains. “The ‘positive’ shoring system also creates a much tighter work area.”
Hurst reports that Efficiency Production helps contractors and municipalities install several similar shoring systems each year. The company offers other types of Slide Rail, including ClearSpan for larger excavations; a four-sided Multi-Bay system, ideal for jack and bore and microtunneling operations; and a linear Multi-Bay system for continuous front-to-back applications, in which a contractor can install the system at the front of a piping project while backfilling and removing the system at the back end.
About the Firms
Efficiency Production, founded in 1971, and now an Arcosa Shoring Products company, offers a wide selection of standard and custom trench shielding and shoring systems, including the modular Slide Rail System. The company also supplies and services support equipment, such as fall protection and pipe pullers. It also offers custom engineering and special designs for challenging job site conditions.
Family-owned Smith Construction began operations in 1993. It began under the auspices of parent company Paul Smith Landscaping, which handled large-scale highway restoration projects. Smith Construction has grown and now conducts a variety of work, including excavation, demolition, trucking, commercial paving, storm sewer and water services, shoreline protection and material delivery sales. It is prequalified with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and also performs services for commercial and residential clients.
Gundlach Champion began in 1898 and enjoys more than a century of commercial construction experience. It provides preconstruction and construction delivery systems. The company takes a team approach to projects.
Expanding the Casino
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is building a new structural-steel building at its Marquette Ojibwa Casino, doubling the casino’s original space. The two-phase project will add a 1,200-seat event center, convention space, a concert hall, two new restaurants, a lounge, and additional room for slot machines. A hotel is planned for a later date.
Gundlach Champion of Iron Mountain, Michigan, serves as the construction manager for the project. Crews worked through the winter of 2018-2019, and the project topped out in February 2019. The project also included a new public water system, with a tower.
In addition to the casino project, the MDOT in partnership with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is conducting a $564,000 reconstruction of the Acre Trail intersection with Michigan 28, which is the entrance to the casino. That project will add more turning movements, curb and gutter, new signage and centerline rumble strips. A Transportation Economic Development Fund Category A grant was secured to pay for 60 percent of the project with the remaining matching funds being contributed by MDOT and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.