Work is roughly 50 percent complete on a $30-million-plus upgrade of what is considered the most dangerous stretch of road in Augusta, Georgia. The 30-month project is aimed at making a five-mile portion of Highway 56, also known as the Mike Padgett Highway, safer and more secure for motorists. The project consists largely of adding left-turn lanes, a raised center concrete median and expanding shoulders.
Like the much-needed roadwork, new water infrastructure required for the project brings its own kind of safety and security. The scope of the project included 35 AMERICAN Flow Control B-84-B fire hydrants, each equipped with Series 2100 hydrant security check valves and more than 26,000 feet of AMERICAN 16-inch ductile iron pipe.
The AMERICAN Series 2100 check valves not only provide added security to the water system but also save time and money. According to Chris Cunningham, a crew superintendent with subcontractor Garnto Southern Construction of Evans, Georgia, “With this check valve, you put it in below grade before the hydrant, and you’re done. There’s no going back unless you have to go back and raise the hydrant to grade. You don’t have to take the hydrant apart and put an anti-tampering device inside of it.
“I wish we could use those on every job,” Cunningham said. “To me, having the check valve on the bottom of the hydrant is the way to go. It saves me time, and it’s easier on the [crew] men. You probably save an hour on every fire hydrant you install by using this valve.”
“To me, having the check valve on the bottom of the hydrant is the way to go. It saves me time, and it’s easier on the (crew) men. You probably save an hour on every fire hydrant you install by using this valve.”
According to Booker Young, an engineer technician for the Augusta Utilities Department (AUD), “The [AMERICAN] check valves are more tamper-proof. The valves we had used previously and some other designs are located at the top of the hydrant, and if somebody wanted to, they could go in and pry that check valve up and pump something back into the system. The AFC valve, being below the surface, there’s no way for anybody to put their hands on it. That is one of the things that we like about it.”
Young said he’s seen a close relationship between the AUD and AMERICAN during his 28 years with the utility. “As far as AMERICAN supplying anything, they’ve done a fantastic job,” Young said. “I’ve put in mile after mile after mile of AMERICAN ductile iron pipe, and I’ve never had any fail for any reason.”
The Highway 56 project also required two horizontal directional drilling (HDD) jobs, both of which were more than 1,000 feet in length. “The AMERICAN Flex-Ring® pipe did a wonderful job,” Cunningham said. “One of the [HDD] jobs was a creek crossing, and we hooked up the first pipe joint around 8 a.m. and had pulled 1,100 feet through the hole by around 2 p.m. We used that pipe [Flex-Ring®] before on a 36-inch water line in Columbia County. It’s good stuff.”
Cunningham, like Young, gives AMERICAN high grades for service. “If we call them on a Monday and ask for 5,000 feet of pipe, they can have it to us Thursday,” Cunningham said. “That’s pretty responsive. We laid that [initial] 10,000 feet on this job, pressure-tested it and everything passed. That tells me it’s coming from the factory without any kind of cracks or dents or bumps or anything like that on it.”
The AUD has more than 60,000 residential and 8,000 commercial and industrial customers in a service area of more than 210 square miles. The system includes almost 1,400 miles of water mains and 1,020 miles of sewer lines. In 2007, the AUD signed a 50-year agreement to supply Fort Gordon with water and wastewater services. Fort Gordon, which has 30,000 military and civilian employees, has an estimated $1.1 billion economic impact in the area.
The Augusta branch of Ferguson Enterprises supplied the AMERICAN materials for the water infrastructure part of the Highway 56 project. “With more than 130 valves and hydrants and almost 30,000 feet of pipe, it is very comforting to know the quality of AMERICAN products is second to none,” said Matthew Kareis, Ferguson’s branch manager for Augusta. “Along with the great quality, the service provided helps these large jobs run smoothly.”