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Building bridges: As major projects stay on track, crews offer to work through winter on new ones

From the Fort Randall Dam to a major bridge in downtown Sioux Falls, key projects are hitting their milestones this summer for SFC Civil Constructors, a division of Journey Group Cos., allowing leaders to look ahead to acquiring work through winter.

“We’ve been able to continue working all through COVID and are taking extra precautions, so we’re happy with how everything is staying on track so far,” division leader Jared Gusso said.

In Sioux Falls, SFC Civil’s work is on full display, with the closure of the Eighth Street bridge downtown as crews make significant improvements to the 108-year-old structure.

“Everything is going really well, and I can’t stress enough how good the city of Sioux Falls and our engineer, Infrastructure Design Group, have been to work with,” project manager Josh Dede said. “Of course, you’re always going to have some hiccups, but everyone considers this a team project, and that’s really helped the work go as well as it has.”

Crews currently are working on utilities, finishing necessary removals, installing shotcrete – or sprayed concrete – under the bridge and doing concrete pavement repairs to the east.

“Our team has been very versatile, taking breaks in shifts and limiting the number of people in the job trailer at once. Our superintendent cleans and sanitizes daily, our guys wipe down equipment, and we’re really trying to practice social distancing,” Dede said of efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. “We don’t have 12 or 15 people in one spot at one time. It creates challenges, but we’re working through it.”

Into September and October, the plan is to finish gravel work and start placing concrete for the roadway.

“And then come the finishing touches, lighting and everything like that,” Dede said, adding the project is on track for its early November interim completion date to open the road.

“We’re doing everything in our power. It’s a tight deadline, but we’re trying our best to hit it.”

Around the state, crews are experiencing similar successful projects. A multiyear project to improve the Fort Randall Dam in southern South Dakota is wrapping up on time, and bridge work is on track in Spearfish, Madison and Brookings County.

“All in all, things are going well,” Gusso said. “We’re also being careful not to intermix our crews, setting each crew up with the skilled trades they need, so we’re not switching people in and out any more than necessary. That way if someone gets sick, we don’t have the potential for everyone to get sick.”

Gusso has been with Journey for more than 20 years and said he sees additional opportunities for his crews this season given the backlog of bridge projects in many counties.

“The bridges and roads aren’t fixing themselves, they continue to age, and there’s a backlog of projects,” he said. “We’d like to help the counties catch up, and one of the ways to do that is by reminding them of our ability to work year-round.”

Working through winter

Build a bridge in the winter? In South Dakota? It might not seem like a natural plan, but SFC Civil says it can benefit local government in many ways.

“With this approach, if funding is available, they potentially can get two or three projects done in a year instead of one,” Gusso said. “We’re able to do concrete work in cold weather – we do it on the building side all the time – so if you have bridge project, we can do all the substructure work through the winter, pour the deck in the spring and get it opened up.”

That closes the road during a less busy time of year, especially for farmers, he added.

“There’s less need for detours and less traffic involved,” Gusso said. “And if it snows, we don’t need a lot of time to recover. We can put shelters up in many cases and work through it, or if a blizzard comes through, you shovel the snow out the next day and go back at it. It’s not that different than a rainstorm the rest of the year, where it might take a day to dry out, but it’s not a big delay.”

There also could be opportunity for savings, he said.

“We want our crews to stay busy. It’s in our best interest to keep our people employed, so we don’t have to rebuild part of the team in the spring,” he said. “It always depends on the project, but there could be good value to be added for governments willing to look at allowing work to occur during the winter.”

- Jodi Schwan, Sioux Falls.Business - https://siouxfalls.business/building-bridges-as-major-projects-stay-on-track-crews-offer-to-work-through-winter-on-new-ones/?fbclid=IwAR2ZKa-hR0g7aPteRtZLSi7IfcGYF_4Rfp6VZzw3xT7OTFZghbkzDLVGTV8