Chicago Shoreline Restoration Challenges Contractors

chicago shoreline restoration challenge hammer steel dawson hammers army corp of engineersContractors working to protect Chicago's shoreline agree on several issues. For one thing, they've all found that Lake Michigan is no friend to their projects. Wind and waves from the lake are a daily challenge on the job, requiring sheet piling to be secured quickly and completely.

They also agree that several pieces of equipment from Hammer & Steel make the job easier. The contractors are all working on sections of a long-range project by the City of Chicago and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect the shoreline. :The shoreline is quite old and in need of repair," explained Steve Lapish, a project manager for James Cape & Sons. "Indiana limestone was originally used over 100 years ago. It has settled and needs repair - storm waters wash up and over the shore, flooding areas along Lakeshore Drive."

"The design for our project called for a PZ-27 steel sheet pile wall tied-back with battered H-pile," noted Paul Kaminski, project manager for American Marine Constructors Inc. His company did work on a portion of the shoreline, from 1-55 to 30th Street, near McCormack Place. Before starting the project, he looked for pile-driving equipment that "would allow us to maintain full control during driving, had high energy and would improve on the performance beyond that of air or diesel hammers." He settled on the Dawson HPH 2400 hydraulic impact hammer system, which delivers blows at a rate of 80-130 per minute. "It was light, hit fast and put lots of energy into the pile," he said.

"We were working offshore and we wanted to eliminate the use of a crane barge. We needed a shoreline based crane, and we needed to reduce the load without sacrificing hammer energy. The Dawson system worked out extremely well," Kaminski added. "We found the average driving time on an H pile with the Dawson hammer was 6 minutes on our project, vs. 17 minutes by conventional methods."

Lapish had a similar experience with the Dawson hydraulic hammer. "The Dawson was a lifesaver on the job," he said. His company built 3,600 feet of wall from Belmont Avenue to Irving Park Road. "It has a constant driving force When you're on a steel batter you want to keep hitting, and a diesel hammer wasn't good."

Van Sutphen, vice president of Thatcher Engineering, the company that completed the work from 51st Street to 54th Street, was also impressed with the Dawson hammer system. "We started with our own air hammer, then we rented a double acting diesel hammer, and finally tried the Dawson hydraulic hammer system from Hammer & Steel. We got 25 percent to 50 percent better production over anything else we tried," Sutphen said. "It hit hard and fast." The PZ-27 sheet piling on this portion of work was driven into very hard clay soils. The Dawson hammer completed the final 10 to 15 feet of driving which could not be accomplished with even a very large vibratory hammer.

Both Thatcher Engineering and James Cape & Sons have purchased the Dawson hammer system by means of a rental purchase agreement.

Along with the Dawson 2400 to drive the battered piles, American Marine and James Cape & Sons used HPSI's vibratory driver/extractor systems to drive their sheet piling. The two systems working together provided "the perfect setup for the job," commented Lapish.

Kaminski concurred. "We knew we needed a large hammer and we wanted one with a good performance," he said. His company used the HPSI 500 vibratory driver and found it "absolutely did what we needed."

While working along Lake Michigan provides a constant challenge for these contractors, working with Hammer & Steel represents a dependable resource. "We've done business with Hammer & Steel for quite a while," noted Lapish. "They are reliable, their equipment is good and so is their service. They offer very competitive prices and they are good people to work with."

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