In construction, there is one tenet that rings true for everyone from the smaller general contractor doing residential work, to the largest heavy highway firms at work today: having the right tool for the right job can be key to any project’s success. When that project is — dollar for dollar — one of the largest in the country,the importance of adhering to that rule grows exponentially. For David Foote Environmental Services, that meant re-evaluating their approach to grinding, then purchasing new equipment to better meet the situation at hand. It was a big move but a necessary one, they felt — and the outcome has proven them right. Doing so not only enhanced their onsite productivity, it solidified their position as a valued team member and helped the joint venture firm heading up the job (Anderson Columbia Co., Inc. and Ajax Paving Inc.) capitalize on a sizeable early-completion bonus.
Seasonally Affected Disorder
Under normal circumstances, the 35-mile stretch of I-75 between Naples, Fla. and Fort Myers, is easily travelled. During peak times, however, when the area’s population swells with the arrival of “snowbirds” from the north, that same section can become extremely congested. To alleviate that problem, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has committed $469 million to a project called iROX (I-75 Road Expansion), which will widen the interstate from four to six lanes in the area linking these two main southwest Florida cities.
Getting to that point involved a good deal of land clearing and tree removal, specialties of Fort Myers-based David Foote Environmental Services. According to company vice president, Jim Foote, the scope of the project was as broad as they come. “In addition to clearing sections of the median to make way for the additional lanes, we were also clearing for retention ponds, for drainage runs, for sound walls, for emergency stopping sites, and so on,” he says. “During the early parts of the project, we were processing material through a Morbark Model 1300 tub grinder which, while an unbelievably powerful machine, can occasionally send debris flying from the tub.
So when we were doing material from the median and other areas directly adjacent to traffic, we would have to cut and pile the debris, then haul it from the right-of-way to any of several ponds that had recently been cleared. There, it was run through the tub grinder, turned into mulch and carted off for sale to area landscapers for use as site mulch.” While that was a workable solution, he says, it was certainly not the most efficient, nor the most economical.
“Any time you have to handle material more than once you are incurring extra costs,” he says. “And at the time, fuel was better than $4 a gallon so it was a costly way to get things done.” The firm looked for an alternative approach — and found it in an alternative grinder: a Morbark horizontal Model 6600 Track Wood Hog.