From Fort Randall Dam to major bridge work, civil construction team tackles big projects

Aug. 1, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Journey Group.

This season’s work literally takes the team at SFC Civil Constructors from one corner of South Dakota to the other.

The division of Journey Group takes on a huge variety of structural, transportation, sanitary and environmental construction projects of all sizes, building everything from highways and bridges to energy recovery systems and water treatment plants.

A signature project for the past two years has involved improvements to the Fort Randall Dam, which was built in 1956 and impounds the Missouri River, forming Lake Francis Case in Gregory and Charles Mix counties.

The dam’s concrete spillway apron had started to expand, contract and crack, so Journey was selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do $6 million in improvements.

“Crews were able to work through the winter and finished removal and replacing concrete back for the phase one expansion joint along the spillway gates,” said Jared Gusso, SFC Civil division leader.

“They finished this spring and have started working down along the retaining wall where the spillway apron comes up to the retaining wall.”

The area ranges from 3 to 7 feet wide.

“And it’s the same process – removing the concrete, cleaning up the loose pieces, prepping it, putting in new expansion joint material and pouring concrete back to seal it up,” Gusso said.

Other crew members are working on rebar and expansion material placement, and then concrete will be poured. From there, it’s on to the opposite side of the spillway, and the process will repeat.

“We’re hoping to get the removals done over there and do concrete placement next spring and summer, and then it will be done,” Gusso said.

The work became more unpredictable following this spring’s rain and snow melt. As water levels rose, the project manager was in constant contact with the Corps.

“If they had had to open the spillway, we would have had to basically get everyone and everything off the apron so they could open the gates and release water, similar to 2013,” Gusso said. “They haven’t had to do it yet, but there was a stretch in April and May when it was literally day-to-day. But the Corps is very good at contingency planning, and if it has to go, they can execute.”

The work now has gone on throughout near-record high temperatures, which can feel like 120 degrees down on the job site.

“The white concrete absorbs the heat during the day and radiates it out during the night, never letting the site cool down, so we’ve brought in pop-up tents to put over the work area for shade, big fans to at least get air moving and an ice chest with water and ice and freezer pops for our team,” Gusso said.

While the dam project utilizes about 20 workers daily, other members of the SFC Civil team are spread out statewide working on additional projects.

“We’re working on multiple bridge projects that are in various stages of completion, and we have finished or nearly finished several already, from Butte County north of Belle Fourche to Aberdeen to Roberts County near Sisseton,” Gusso said.

Projects in progress include a large bridge repair in the area of Presho in Lyman County that involves four bridges, a new bridge south of Chancellor in Turner County and bridge repairs in Grant and Charles Mix counties.

“We’re busy. We have a few gaps here and there where we can still take on some work starting in late November for winter, and we’re not overwhelmed or stretched thin, so it’s a good balance.”

Crews also will start a project at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport in late September, working on an expanded de-icing collection system.

The division also is still hiring as college students prepare to return to school.

“We’re trying to stay ahead on hiring so we’re covered once they leave,” Gusso said. “And we try to hire local as much as we can.”

For information on the division, click here. 

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From Fort Randall Dam to major bridge work, civil construction team tackles big projects

This season’s work literally takes the team at SFC Civil Constructors from one corner of South Dakota to the other.

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