Beyond the Build


A Plan for Swamp Rehab

Like other construction firms, we work with a lot of different companies that help us deliver. We’ve found that whether it’s construction, engineering or architecture, two things are vital: working with a firm that thinks creatively instead of always taking the textbook path, and finding the right person to work with at that firm.

The same certainly applies to geotechnical engineering groups, and one of our Florida projects is a prime example. Our site contains a swamp component, deep organic root material and is adjacent federal protected waterways and wetlands.

Property in the right location does not always bring the easiest site conditions with it. This particular site was setting up to be too expensive to develop. Our customer saw the potential and hired Bhate Geosciences, engaging them to help us to develop a cost-effective solution.

The easy recommendation would have gone something like this: Pray you can find the “bottom” of the swamp. Remove the root mat, dewater, then bring in off-site fill with geogrid for stability.

For us, vertical construction will be supported by deep piling. Here is what we are doing with the balance of the site:

1. Clear the trees and brush, leaving as much of the root mat as possible, to provide a stable base.
2. Leave the stumps.
3. Use low ground pressure equipment and track pressure of 4 PSI or less.
4. Clean sand to a subgrade elevation.
5. Place geogrid as needed, followed by additional fill to paving subgrade.

Beyond the subgrade prep, we are also using a tub grinder to chip the trees, providing a stable roadway for equipment, in lieu of hauling in off-site material.

So far so good. It’s interesting that so far, we have not had to use any geogrid material, nor have we had to pump water. And because we are “partnered” with creative thinkers, this tough site is headed toward being prime real estate.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.