Monday, July 19, 2010

Celebrating 100 Years: General Construction Company

General Construction Company’s history begins early in the twentieth century, when the company was founded as the Inland Empire Hassam Paving Company, headquartered in Spokane, Washington. After four years the company was renamed General Construction Company. About the same time, brothers Dan and Jack McEachern founded the J.A. McEachern Company in Seattle in 1911. The J.A. McEachern Company had the very first contract awarded by the Port of Seattle, in 1912, to construct their headquarters at Pier 66. The two companies formed a partnership to build the Owyhee Dam in Oregon in 1928 and merged into one company in 1929, retaining the name General Construction Company, and with Jack McEachern as President. Several large projects followed throughout the 1930s and 40s, including the five massive piers that still support the suspension bridge that links San Francisco to Yerba Buena Island and the rest of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, and the two massive caissons for the first Tacoma Narrows bridge in joint venture with Pacific and Columbia Construction Companies. Other early projects include the Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport Oregon, built as a joint venture with Gilpin Construction, a company that was later purchased by GCC; Ruby Dam (later renamed Ross Dam), built as a joint venture with Columbia Construction for Seattle City Light; and many ships built for the war effort during World War II as part of an eight-company joint venture at Seattle’s Todd Shipyards.

General Construction was involved in numerous significant projects from the 1950s through the 1970s, such as Hungry Horse Dam in Montana; the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) in California; the original Hood Canal and Evergreen Point Floating Bridges in Washington State; several large Metro Sewer projects in the greater Seattle area; Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle, and many more.

Robert McEachern, the third generation of family owners, sold General Construction in 1981 to Wright Schuchart, Inc. and General Construction became the Marine Division of that company, with Bill Epping as President. Fletcher Industrial, a successor to Wright Schuchart Harbor, was merged with General Construction Company in the early 1990s, bringing with it significant industrial construction capabilities to do projects such as modular fabrication for the North Slope of Alaska’s oil processing, nuclear facility construction in Oregon and Washington, aerospace manufacturing facilities in Washington State, and numerous pulp and paper and grain terminal projects. In 1987, the Wright Schuchart companies were acquired by New Zealand-based Fletcher Challenge and Bill Urban was named as President of General Construction Company in 1990. The Company was renamed Fletcher General Construction in 1993. During this era, significant projects included the Alsea Bay Bridge in Oregon, the Lacey V. Murrow I-90 Floating Bridge across Lake Washington in Seattle, an aircraft carrier pier for the U.S. Navy in Everett, Washington and Pier 66 on the Seattle waterfront.

In 1996, Mr. Urban and other senior managers at General, re-purchased the assets from Fletcher Challenge and renamed the company General Construction Company. Many large marine and industrial projects along the west coast followed, with significant fish passage projects at Shasta, Ice Harbor, John Day and Bonneville dams; outfalls in San Diego, California and Vancouver, Washington; and the expansion and modernization of industrial facilities for both Boeing and Kimberly-Clark in Washington State.

In 2001, a subsidiary of the Kiewit Corporation, Kiewit Pacific Co., acquired General Construction Company as a wholly-owned subsidiary. In 2003, Ron Morford was named President of General Construction Company and District Manager of the General Construction District of Kiewit. Ownership by one of the nation’s largest and most respected construction companies has greatly expanded GCC’s potential and they have recently participated in some extremely large projects with other Kiewit Districts including the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Skyway Segment, the Benicia-Martinez Segmental Bridge, the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the Hood Canal Floating Bridge Retrofit and East-Half Replacement.

GCC continues to perform marine, industrial and heavy civil projects, maintaining their long-standing relationships with numerous customers throughout the western U.S., including port authorities, state departments of transportation, various county, city and local government agencies, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S Coast Guard, and numerous private commercial, manufacturing, and industrial companies.

National City Marine Terminal
Contract Amount: $22 Million
Project Start Date: November 2001
Completion Date: October 2003
Owner: Port of San Diego
Designer: Atkinson, Johnson & Spurrier lnc.

The Port of San Diego asked General Construction to construct a 1,025-foot long by 83-foot wide marginal wharf extension to the existing National City Marine Terminal. Work included 146,000 CY of dredging to four different dumpsites. The cellular bulkhead consisted of 2,118 sheet piles varying in length from 60 to 73 feet. General Construction also drove more than 300 24-inch concrete foundation piles for the new terminal expansion. More than 9,000 CY of concrete were placed along with 714 concrete deck panels. The concrete work was made more difficult with the soffit elevation situated below high tide. Concrete formwork also included a complicated forming system for the sheet pile concrete skirt wall. In addition, 2,300 feet of fender system upgrades were performed on the existing terminal.

The project also included stone column soil densification.

Bainbridge Island
Ferry Terminal Project
Contract Amount: $6.6 Million
Project Start Date: August2005
Completion Date: July 2006
Owner: Washington State Ferries
Designer: CH2MHill

This project consisted of demolishing the existing timber trestle, transfer span, apron, head-frame, towers, tower foundations, trestle walkway and bridge seat for Slip 2 of the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal. A new trestle consisting of pre-cast pre-stressed deck units, pre-cast pile caps and bridge seat, and state supplied steel pipe piles were fabricated and installed to replace the timber trestle. A hydraulically actuated transfer span, apron, lift cylinder shaft, along with state supplied equipment (hydraulic lift cylinders, hydraulic apron cylinders, and hydraulic power unit) and related machinery were fabricated, tested and installed at Slip 2. Steel piles, a concrete trestle, and a hoisting mechanism was also fabricated and installed at the Tie-up Slip along with the existing gangway that was salvaged and refurbished.

The trestle deck was paved to match existing pavement and sloped to drain to scuppers and two new catch basins. Pavement markings were painted, signs and security gates ere reinstalled or fabricated and installed. New waterlines, electrical conduit, light fixtures and heat trace were installed and tested.

Hood Canal Bridge Retrofit and East Half Replacement
Contract Amount: $349 Million
Project Start Data: July 2003
Completion Date: March 2010
Owner: Washington State
Department of Transportation
Designer: WSDOT & Parsons Brinckerhoff Quaid and Douglas, lnc.

The Hood Canal Bridge renovation project started in July 2003. The scope of work included replacing both existing bridge approaches, widening the existing west half roadway decks and updating the electric system, replacing the transition truss spans, renovating three existing pontoons, casting and setting 20 concrete anchors, replacing the entire floating structure of the east half of the bridge and providing a new control system for the entire bridge.

The approach replacement and west side widening was completed at the end of 2005. Fourteen bridge pontoons were constructed at Concrete Technology’s graving dock in Tacoma, while the 20 concrete anchors were constructed at Todd Pacific Shipyard and set into place at the bottom of Hood Canal in the summer of 2007. The rehab of the three existing pontoons occurred at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 91. The seven pontoons that made up the new draw span were floated to Todd Shipyard in Seattle where the assembly and outfitting of the new draw span occurred in July of 2007. The bridge was closed for the installation from May 1, 2009 through June 4, 2009 while crews disassembled and floated out the old sections of the bridge and replaced them with the new pontoons and bridge deck. The bridge was re-opened to traffic ten days early earning the full incentive and saving the public millions of dollars in impact costs. The final scope completed was the final rehab work on the west half draw span, which occurred in the spring of 2010. This project won multiple awards including: the Associated General Contractors (AGC) 2010 Build Washington Grand Award for Construction Excellence; AGC’s 2010 Construction Excellence in the Highway and Transportation Division; the Washington Aggregates & Concrete Association’s 2010 Excellence in Concrete Construction in the Public Works, Bridges Category; and the 2010 Project of the Year with the American Public Works Association, Washington State Chapter for Transportation over $10 million.

Todd Shipyard Sediment Remediation Project
Contract Amount: $15.5 million
Project Start Date: August 2004
Completion Date: December 2005
Owner: Todd Pacific Shipyard
Designer: Floyd Snider, KPFF

General Construction performed this $15.5 million project was performed for Todd Pacific Shipyard in Seattle, Washington.
This environmental cleanup project included the dredging of 203,000 CY of contaminated material that was transloaded into rail cars for upland disposal. Two environmental buckets, 24 CY and 27 CY, a 14 CY digging bucket, two hopper barges and one flat deck drain barge, differential GPS, and an electronic tide gauge were utilized to complete the work.
The project also included the demolition of 105,000 SF of pier decking and the removal of 2,600 timber piles. Finally, 90,000 tons of slope rock and under pier capping sand
was placed to further protect the waters of Elliott Bay.

Terminal 30 Upgrade Project
Contract Amount: $32.8 Million
Project Start Date: October 2007
Completion Date: June 2009
Owner: Port of Seattle
Designer: Berger/ABAM

The 43-acre Terminal 30 Upgrade Project included converting a Cruise Ship operations terminal into a container terminal. General Construction Company’s contract called for the strengthening of the existing concrete wharf in preparation to receive new container cranes that were being built overseas. The 1,545 linear foot dock was upgraded using 166 new concrete piles that support a new waterside crane rail beam. In addition a 1,417 linear foot sheet pile wall and concrete cap were constructed to support the landside crane rail beam. Approximately, 59,000 cubic yards of material were clamshell dredged to provide -50 feet MLLW throughout the berth. The existing Cruise Ship Building and associated covered walkway, Auto Import Office and two Security Guard Shacks were demolished while the Longshoreman’s Building and Crane Shop were remodeled with two additional restrooms built. New buildings installed include a Guard Shack and Trouble Service Kiosk. A new container trucking gate system with eight truck scales and two emergency bypass lanes were also created.

Dalles Dam Spillwall
Contract Amount: $45 Million
Project Start Date: August 2008
Completion Date: March 2010
Owner: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
Designer: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers

General Construction built a spillwall in the stilling basin between Bays 8 and 9 at the Dalles Dam on the Columbia River. This two-season project began with site work and the building of a temporary concrete precasting facility. Once complete, GC removed the north fish ladder temporary bridge and approaches, removed a baffle block located 25 feet underwater and repaired a tilted stilling basin slab. Then, to prepare the river bottom for the spillwall, crews drilled, split and excavated rock where the wall would be built. Beginning in Season 1 and finishing in Season 2, crews built 43 precast concrete units, poured more than 4,000 cubic yards of cast-in-place concrete (including 590 lineal feet of leveling slab), set the precast units and installed 178 post-tensioned rock anchors. In the sensitive environment of the Columbia River, environmental permits drove the work schedule and construction methods on this challenging project.