Overcoming Obstacles

By Aram Kalousdian, Editor | September 28, 2010

The Goddard Road Water Main Replacement project in Southgate has involved the installation of 3,000 feet of 8-inch polyvinyl chloride water main along the south side of Goddard Road between Allen Road and Reeck Road. The work is being done for the city of Southgate. Aielli Construction Company, Inc., of Clinton Township, is the prime contractor for the project. The project began in October 2007 and it is expected to be completed in the spring.

The project has involved overcoming several obstacles such as main petroleum lines, large diameter gas mains, AT&T conduits, DTE Energy conduits, county storm sewers, and a 72-inch Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) water main. "These are all within several feet of our trench," Paolo Iacobacci, construction manager for Aielli Construction Company, said.

"So, this project was designed to have the water main fit between all of these utilities. The existing water main that we are replacing is an old asbestos-cement water main that we've had to remove." Iacobacci explained that asbestos-cement pipe was used in the 1960s and 1970s.

Iacobacci said that asbestos-cement pipe becomes brittle when it ages and it has caused a lot of water main breaks.

"We work directly with the consulting engineer who designed the project and the city of Southgate Department of Public Works personnel. They are out there everyday. As we're excavating and finding different obstacles, we are working with them to overcome those obstacles. We rely on what they want us to do in order to overcome them, whether it's turning the trench a certain way or turning the pipe a certain way," Iacobacci said. Urban Engineering Company, of Allen Park, is the design engineer for the project. Sierra Trucking, of Brighton, has been the sand backfill supplier for the project.

"It's like a design-build project. They designed it a certain way, but just like any other underground project, when you go out there, it's impossible to predict what will happen."

Aielli Construction Company typically finances its equipment purchases. "We go with what we trust and what's worked for us in the past. We know what models are capable of handling certain situations, so we buy the right size equipment for what we do. As a water main replacement contractor, we don't use extra large equipment. We need to use compact equipment in city streets so that we don't impact traffic flows. We're always working in close proximity to trees in the right-of-way areas, fences and parked cars. So, the size of the equipment we use in the cities is compact, and the machines are quick and reliable," Iacobacci said.

"When we go into larger, deeper projects, we have larger equipment that handles that. In our industry, having a nice selection of different sizes of equipment is important, but we certainly don't overdo it. We don't buy the biggest piece of equipment out there and we don't buy the smallest piece out there. We stay in the mid-size range."

Iacobacci said that the company purchases equipment when it's needed. When the work increases, equipment needs to be available to meet the demand and when equipment gets old, it needs to be replaced.

"As equipment ages, you need to maintain it more. In our particular case, we have a very good maintenance program for our equipment, so age doesn't become a primary driving factor for us to buy a piece of equipment. If you maintain the equipment properly, it will last a long time," Iacobacci said.

He added that new equipment provides better productivity. "If we get into a situation where a machine we have is either too slow or is technologically outdated to the point where it is affecting our productivity and safety, then we would consider purchasing a newer machine."