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Veteran Utility Contractor Upgrades Infrastructure in Historic Downtown Grand Rapids with Help from Efficiency Production Slide Rail System

K&R installed a 28 foot by 35 foot wide, and 24 feet deep Multi-Bay configuration with Shore-Trak Panel Sheeting Guides to shore tightly around an existing sanitary sewer culvert.
K&R installed a 28 foot by 35 foot wide, and 24 feet deep Multi-Bay configuration with Shore-Trak Panel Sheeting Guides to shore tightly around an existing sanitary sewer culvert.
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — In recent years, infrastructure upgrades in urban cities have been ongoing across the country. This is true for Grand Rapids, Michigan — the second largest city in the state. Directly in the historic section of the downtown area, veteran contractor Kamminga & Roodvoets, Inc. (K&R) has been undertaking the multi-year project of upgrading a primary trunk sewer that runs along the Grand River. They are redirecting a new 96-inch tie-in line 1,200 linear feet around the block along Market and Fulton Streets to make room for any utility requirements of future development.

In such a dense area of the city, K&R knew they were going to have to contend with many existing utilities as they excavated the new pipeline. “You never know what you are going to find when you take the pavement off the road,” said Project Manager Jeff Talsma. “Just in the intersection (of Market and Fulton Streets), we began digging and immediately started finding things, and we found a lot of them.”

The biggest challenge for Talsma and his crew was installing a shoring system that could contend with the plethora of existing utilities. Fortunately, it was not a difficult decision for K&R. It so happened that several members of the installation crew, including Talsma, were veterans of installing member Efficiency Production’s Slide Rail Shoring System.

“We’ve had a lot of success with Efficiency’s slide rail on other projects in the past — large projects — and we are right in the heart of Grand Rapids with a lot of old buildings,” Talsma said. “Vibrating in tight sheeting just wasn’t an option. There was just too much potential for failure.

“We’ve worked with Tim (Hurst) and the Efficiency team, probably since January 2021. We started with an original design for using slide rail, but when we came across more items of conflict, we changed that and came up with a workable solution, including slide rail sheeting frames with sheets, utility supports, and in some instances utility relocations.”

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Efficiency’s modular slide rail is a component shoring system comprised of specialized steel posts and panels. The versatile system can go 32 feet deep in a variety of configurations, such as small four-sided pits; large unobstructed excavations as big as 60 by 60 feet or more in a ClearSpan configuration; or in a Multi-Bay configuration to install tanks and other structures or lengths of pipe over 40 feet.

Slide rail is installed simultaneously as the trench or pit is excavated by sliding the panels into integrated rails on the posts — an outside slotted rail first, then an open-face rail on the inside — then pushing the panels and posts incrementally down to grade as the pit is dug. This is a process commonly referred to as a “dig and push” system.

Another cost-saving aspect of slide rail is that the equipment can be utilized multiple times in several different excavation points, starting with the initial tie-in to the existing sewer line. K&R installed a 28 foot by 35 foot wide, and 24 feet deep Multi-Bay configuration of the Slide Rail System with Shore-Trak Panel Sheeting Guides to shore tightly around the existing 11.5 foot by 14 foot sanitary sewer culvert. K&R then cast-in-place an 11 foot by 14 foot manhole structure up against the existing sewer line. The crew then sawed into the existing culvert and redirected the line through the new manhole.

Once the manhole and diversion line were installed, the K&R crew backfilled the excavation and moved much of the same slide rail components to another spot right along Market Street, then installed a 24 foot by 26 foot wide, and 28 foot deep four-sided Slide Rail System to shore another section of the 96-inch diameter reinforced concrete pipe on the new half-mile-long sewer pipeline.

After that, K&R used the same slide rail equipment to shore four additional excavation points along the new tie-in line.

“There’s 100 different things running through the intersection,” Talsma said. “With Efficiency’s slide rail it provides a little more flexibility in installation, which helps with potential impact to the surrounding buildings and utilities, all of which really made it the right solution.”

In 1951, Roger Roodvoets and Elwin Kamminga started a local bulldozing company, working out of Roodvoets' father’s garage. From that beginning, the two friends established the foundation for what has become a roadbuilding and underground utility construction company. With offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Tampa, Florida, K&R has grown into a contractor with more than 200 employees and with building projects ranging in size from city street intersections to highway interchanges.

Efficiency Production, an Arcosa Shoring Products company, is a founding member manufacturer.

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