Winter Preparation At Homestead Preserve

By Gini and Dan McKain | September 28, 2010

Homestead Preserve is an exclusive planned vacation community of only 450 homes located on 2,300 acres of land in Bath County. It is dedicated to the preservation of the natural landscape and architectural heritage of the Allegheny Highlands. Of the developers' original 11,500-acre purchase in 2002, the owners elected to convey 9,250 acres on and around Warm Springs Mountain to The Nature Conservancy. In 2004, they placed an additional 935 acres into permanent conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

Construction, now entering the second phase of the venture, is at a vital juncture. After a successful summer construction season, the developers plan for no letup in the on-site activity until the weather dictates otherwise. Underground utility installation activities (water and sanitary sewer lines) are being done in the Delafield Rise area by Byer, Harmond & Johnson Contractors (BHJ) from Covington, Va.

According to Superintendent Rick Nichols, the company has a contract to install several sections of subsurface water and sewer lines. On the North Forest Trail this includes 3,654 feet of 8-inch gravity sewer and 30, 4-foot-diameter, three-section precast concrete manholes. The force main is 3 inches, 2 inches and 1.5 inches. House laterals will all be of 1.25-inch pipe. The 6-inch ductile iron water line is being put in 3.5 feet below finish road grade. The line is being excavated and backfilled by two Cat 325 backhoes.

A Hamm sheepsfoot roller is used for compaction. The excavated material is primarily a sand/loam combination with occasional rock outcrops. All excavated earth is sidecast to be used as backfill. Any rock that is encountered is removed from the trench, down-hauled to the bottom of the mountain where it is processed to size by a hydraulic breaker, and then reused as water runoff retention.

The Cat 325 backhoe doing the excavation has a 30-inch bucket with a thumb attachment. The excavated material is backfilled in three equal lifts with a second Cat 325 backhoe with a slightly larger 42-inch bucket.

A second BHJ Contractors crew has installed a total of about 6,000 feet of 2-inch force main in the Delafield Rise Area of the Homestead Preserve. The crew has been excavating a 4-foot-deep trench about 30 inches wide to install 300 feet to 400 feet of pipe a day.

To install the force main, BHJ Contractors first places a 6-inch layer of crushed bedding stone in the trench. After placing the pipe, BHJ backfills with a 12-inch to 16-inch cushion of crushed stone over the pipe. Excavated material is then placed and compacted in three lifts with an Imax 33-inch sheepsfoot roller. BHJ uses a Cat 312 backhoe to excavate and backfill the trench and to place the crushed stone. A Volvo A25C articulated dump truck is used to haul the stone to the site.

A pipe trench compaction of 95 percent was contract specified but the contractor has been consistently able to produce a 97-percent to 98-percent compaction density. BHJ Contractors has coiled a tracer wire around the PVC pipe to help mark it for future location purposes. Plastic marker tape has been used to mark the location of the ductile iron pipe.

Hammond & Mitchell Inc of Covington, Va., one of the on-site road building subcontractors, is also installing the required storm drain pipe as part of their contract.

Another local subcontractor, Progressive State Plumbing, has a contract to take the water and sanitary sewer systems and appurtenances from the lateral lines at the road's edge and run them into the actual residences.

It is imperative that both contractors, as well as other infrastructure contractors and home builders working on the massive Homestead Preserve, complete their winter preparation work as quickly as possible. Once winter arrives it effectively terminates the subsurface construction for the season, save for an unusually mild winter.