On February 1, 2014, Carolinas AGC bestowed the 2013 Pinnacle Awards—the most
prestigious recognition in the Carolinas construction industry—to five projects and an
individual. The Pinnacle Awards shine a light on our profession in a very public way,
and exemplify CAGC’s very reason for existence: Advancing the construction industry to
enhance the quality of life and deliver a sustainable difference in the Carolinas.
The CAGC Pinnacle Awards competition is co-sponsored by CPA firm GreerWalker LLP
and the law firm of Johnston, Allison & Hord, both based in Charlotte. The Pinnacle
presentation was made at CAGC’s 93rd Annual Convention in Boca Raton, Florida.
Best Highway Project (1 of 2 Awards)
Safety Improvements to 13 Separate Intersections in Central South Carolina
Contractor: C.R. Jackson, Inc., Columbia, SC
This federal aid design-build intersection safety project involved 13 intersections across
Aiken, Clarendon, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, and Sumter counties. C.R.
Jackson was responsible for design, permitting, right of way acquisition, utility relocation
coordination, and construction—for all 13 projects, under one contract, in a very
This application of the design-build procurement method for a bundle of safety related
projects was a first by the SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT). Its goals were to
ultimately qualify for Federal Safety Funds via data-driven analysis, and validate that
design-build is a viable option for projects of this nature in the future.
Using current SCDOT statistical value, accidents over a three-year period for these 13
intersections had cost more than $13 million in property damage and injuries plus loss
of life. The average anticipated accident reduction for these improved intersections is 45
percent. Completing these projects in just 18 months rather than the conventional 36
months represented a saving to taxpayers of over $2.9 million—and an estimated $2
million in each future year.
Project management on 13 simultaneous work sites– many with ongoing traffic
patterns– on an aggressive schedule presented unique challenges that required
• Coordinating with other companies and agencies, such as assisting utility
providers in knowing where their lines were, to help save on relocation costs.
• Flexibility to accommodate a very long list of uncontrollable items they couldn’t
generally influence, such as 97 different property acquisitions requiring a
minimum of 120 days each.
• Creativity in deploying logistically located resources (workers, equipment, three
asphalt plants, and subcontractors) across 13 sites separated by 150 miles.
With more than 100,000 total man hours logged, C.R. Jackson reported no lost time
incidents and no construction related accidents. And, all 13 intersections were
substantially completed within original budgeted construction time and within budget.
BEST HIGHWAY PROJECT (2 of 2 Awards)
The I-85 Yadkin River Bridge, Salisbury, NC
Design-Build Team: The Joint Venture of Flatiron/Lane
With Partners in Excellence STV/Ralph Whitehead, Charlotte, NC, and HDR
Engineering, Raleigh, NC
This project replaced a severely deteriorated, 60-year old bridge eight months ahead of
schedule and $44 million below the owner’s budget. NCDOT’s RFP required great
resourcefulness from the design-build team, as the bridge crosses five current and
future railroad tracks, carrying 60 trains per day, including freight rail, Amtrak, and a
future high speed rail.
The team’s Maintenance of Traffic plan was key– accelerating an intermediate
milestone to open the northbound mainline bridge and temporarily shift both northbound
and southbound traffic onto it. The team also saw that by slightly widening the median
from 46 feet to 70 feet, they could construct a single work bridge in the center median
instead of the two called for in the RFP. This choice not only accelerated the schedule
and reduced the total cost, but also reduced the environmental impacts to the
stringently monitored wetlands on the site.
The project team worked an impressive three and a half years without any Notice of
Violations (NOVs), a huge accomplishment on a project surrounded by environmentally
sensitive areas. At its peak, more than 200 people worked 24-hours a day, six to seven
days a week. Crews finished the half-mile bridge in roughly 14 months.
This was a very high profile project, visited by the media, Governor Bev Perdue, and top
state transportation officials multiple times. State officials used federal stimulus money
to set aside $180 million to build the bridge, and funding also came from a mobility fund
Gov. Perdue proposed in 2010. This project’s success helps bolster the notion of what
can happen when transportation projects are adequately funded.
BEST UTILTY PROJECT
R.B. Simms Water Treatment Plant and Lake Blalock WTP Improvements
Design-Build Team: Crowder Construction Company, Charlotte, NC;
With Partners in Excellence URS (the former BP Barber), Morrisville, NC; and
Constantine Engineering, Fort Walton Beach, FL.
Spartanburg Water System (SWS) was looking to ensure an adequate water supply
for at least two generations, and identified nearly $44 million in technological and
electrical improvements. However, their budget was only 2/3 of that figure. They
proceeded with an “alternate delivery method”—a first for this owner, letting it as a
qualifications-based progressive design-build project. Not only was the project
successfully completed safely with no interruption in service and on schedule, it was
completed under budget.
It was important to utilize as much of the existing facility as possible to minimize
construction and environmental harm, as well as incorporate sustainable design
practices. The team’s work included:
• Eliminating the need for chlorine gas disinfection, which had been a major health
concern to the surrounding community
• Providing a new chlorine dioxide generation system that reduced the potential
formation of by-products and improved water quality
• Enabling SWS to generate its own sodium hypochlorite solution, which reduced
the carbon footprint and saves on long-term operations costs
• A reduction in the amount of waste that previously went to landfills
• A new pump station that allows for recycling of decant water, thereby reducing
the volume discharged under the NPDES wastewater discharge permit and the
amount of raw water required.
The project was completed with zero lost workdays and zero restricted days.
Crowder’s site-specific safety plan resulted in 129,501 man-hours worked and only
one recordable accident.
BEST BUILDING PROJECT (1 of 2 Awards)
Duke University Baldwin Auditorium Renovations, Durham, NC
LeChase Construction Services, Durham, NC
With Partners in Excellence: Brown Brothers Plumbing & Heating Company, Durham,
NC and Comfort Engineers, Durham, NC
The transformation of Baldwin Auditorium into an acoustically superior world-class
musical venue was a LEED® silver registered project. The existing venue had poor
acoustics, and the LeChase team virtually remade it—changing the very shape of the
interior, redesigning and relocating mechanical equipment configuration, and renovating
the unusual coffered dome. Those were complemented by a focus on intricate structural
modifications and special finishes, all through an intricate sequenced process.
The team added wall and floor mass to create an acoustically superior shoe-box shape.
To maximize acoustic efficiency, all walls were angled, curved or shaped to avoid
While dome shapes are not typically desirable for acoustic excellence, the coffered
dome of Baldwin was an aesthetic masterpiece which Duke University wanted to retain.
A substantial scaffolding system was engineered to create a “dance floor” high above
the finished floor elevation promoting safe access for new plaster finishes, acoustical
coffer installations, sprinkler, lighting, carpentry and paint applications. One-half of the
dome required reflection of sound while the other half required absorption, but both
halves were required to appear identical.
A common complaint of Baldwin patrons had been noise and vibrations of the
mechanical equipment located directly below the auditorium. The new system allows air
to permeate upward through 75,000 minute holes drilled in the stage floor to gently rise
and cool/warm onstage performers. More than 250 swirl-air diffusers in the floor and
under the seating area provide low pressure air to the audience. The result was zero
vibration and silent delivery of conditioned air to the auditorium.
For the balcony extension, steel columns along with horizontal beams and corrugated
metal decking were rigged inside, through window and door openings, then into final
vertical position via a small, high capacity crane that is one of just a few in the US.
Numerous installations required detailing beyond the capability of two-dimensional
drawings. The millwork scope, in particular, required furniture grade perfection. Balcony
railing and the orchestra shell required curved components in three dimensions. Each
piece was modeled using Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology and a
component was selected for mock construction. Each mock construction piece was
reviewed and retained to the end of the project to ensure the target level of quality.
BEST BUILDING PROJECT (2 of 2 Awards)
The Chatham Country Courthouse, Pittsboro, NC
H.M. Kern Corporation, Greensboro, NC
With Partner in Excellence Mechworks Mechanical Contractors, Greensboro, NC.
The historic Chatham County Courthouse, known to thousands as Chatham County’s
front porch, burned March 25, 2010. Carolinians and history buffs held their breath
waiting to hear if it could be salvaged.
The entire roof structure and clock tower had burned through to the lower floors, which
collapsed. While it was determined that the remaining masonry structure could be
salvaged, the skeleton would require “kid glove treatment” in refurbishing damaged
The top of the walls were drilled and doweled with rebar and the walls capped with new
masonry and concrete to extend higher. Thus, the new upper floors are “in part”
supported today by the original masonry walls installed in 1881. A system of fans was
placed in the building to help dry out the interior masonry walls; the building remained
undisturbed for almost a year during this dry-out.
Once underway, interior reconstruction included a new steel-framed roof system,
interior concrete floors, extensive millwork and all new finishes. Parts of the building
would be returned to their original appearance, with remaining historical materials
protected. Of course, the renovation also included installation of a fire suppression
Debris removal was tedious, and all pine flooring and beams not permanently damaged
were carefully removed and salvaged. To keep as much original detail as possible,
modern HVAC, electrical sprinkler and plumbing systems were installed in 130-year-old
areas not designed for such systems, often requiting customization. H.M. Kern’s
partnership with Mechworks was key.
Among the project’s unique safety threats, the Courthouse is located in the center of
town, in the middle of a traffic circle, with continual traffic from two major NC highways
bustling around it.
From the start, H.M. Kern entered into an agreement with OSHA’s consultation services
to ensure the safety of not only its workers but also the public, who became eager
spectators as the project progressed. The result was no injuries, fatalities or citations.
BUILD WITH THE BEST
North Carolina Representative Mike Hager, House Majority Whip
Mike Hager is a self-employed engineer who represents Rutherford and Burke Counties
for the Republican Party.
Hagar is credited for his leadership on NC General Assembly House Bill 476, the rewrite
of the state’s underground safety/damage prevention laws. The new law, effective
October 2014, will move North Carolina from one of the weakest states concerning
underground safety and damage prevention to what some say will be the model state
program. It will save lives, minimize injuries and protect the public as well as
underground facilities. Passage of this complex legislation in North Carolina was a top
legislative goal for Carolinas AGC. The bill passed the NC House and Senate
CAGC salutes Rep. Hager for his efforts in advancing the construction industry.
On February 1, 2014, Carolinas AGC bestowed the 2013 Pinnacle Awards—the most