“Some of the most concerned community members were our biggest advocates at the end,’’ Rich said. “They appreciated the transparency we provided. We told them they were going to hear noise and we’d do what we can to mitigate disruption. If they heard something of concern, they could reach out to us. Relationships with the community were our biggest challenges, but also one of our biggest accomplishments.” A Model to Follow When it comes to wastewater, America’s commitment to improvement has been sorely lacking. In 1988, the ASCE awarded the U.S. a “C” grade for its wastewater infrastructure. That is the high-water mark for the last 30-plus years. Every grade since has been a D+ or worse. Overall, the U.S. earned a “C-“ from the ASCE in 2021. While no categories earned a failing grade, 11 of the 17 categories earned marks of “D+” or worse. Rail (“B”) and Ports (”B-“) earned the highest marks. In most U.S. homes, such a report card would result in extra chores, confiscation of the smartphone and angry phone calls to educators. The federal legislation passed last year is a promising start. In addition, the Dig Greenville project sets up a template other communities can follow. Planning, research, communication and commitment – finan- cial and mentally – are solid starting points. While large-scale infrastructure projects frequently experience significant overruns in budget and time, the Dig Greenville project proved that does not always have to be the case. The project expe- rienced a setback in drilling the starter tunnel, but that was the only hiccup in a multi-year project that also included fallout from an international pandemic. “We had to add about 10 months due to the schedule, but we were able to keep it within the original project budget,’’ Jones said. “We were able to find some cost savings in some other areas and we had some good bids when we started.” On its own, Dig Greenville will do little to improve the nation’s poor infrastructure grade. Its completion is evidence, however, that com- munities that demonstrate vision, intelligence and commitment can provide solutions to address infrastructure issues. “It’s been a challenging project, but a fun one to be involved with,’’ Jones said. “It’s a good feeling to know that we are contributing to the long-term viability of the community. It took a lot of work to make it a success, and it came about through the efforts of a large group of people.”
While largely hidden from the public, the beginning and end points of the construction are identifiable by access doors. The BILCO Company manufactured 13 floor access doors of various sizes for the project. The doors allow access to vertical shafts – one is 35 feet deep, the other is 105 feet deep – in which workers will descend into the tunnel or lower equipment into the tunnel. BILCO floor doors are designed with engineered lift assistance to ensure safe, easy, door operation. “We used those types of doors fairly often on our projects, especial- ly at pump stations,’’ Jones said. “We find they have good durability and reliability.” Keeping Residents Connected While most of the work was hidden, ReWa made sure to maintain a dialogue with city residents. The construction sites were near city residences and a local zoo. Residents were understandably concerned about how the project would impact their quality of life. “We put in a good bit of effort to educate the public, get their feedback and learn what they had concerns about,’’ Jones said. “We wanted to gain the trust of the community from the very beginning. We had a series of meetings where we showed the community that we were seri - ous about their concerns and taking them into consideration.” While largely unseen, the community impact was substantial. Road closures, noise, vibration, safety and site restoration were all of com - munity concern. Two important community cornerstones, Cleveland Park and the Greenville Zoo, were directly within the conveyance line. ReWa established different communication vehicles, including a website dedicated to the project, a Facebook page, a 24-hour hotline, quarterly meetings and e-blasts. Greenville citizens had a wealth of resources to keep tabs on the project and voice their concerns. BILCO, a manufacturer of specialty access equipment, manufactured 13 floor access doors of various sizes for the project. The doors allow access to vertical shafts in which workers will descend into the tunnel or lower equipment into the tunnel.
THOMAS RENNER writes about construction, engineering, architecture, and other trade industry topics for publications throughout the United States.
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