International Dredging Review

International Dredging Review

The Mississippi Valley Associated General Contractors (MVAGC) chapter honored seven area contractors with 2015 Superior Safety Performance Awards at their 2016 Construction Roundtable Meeting on February 26. The con-tractors were from up and down the Mississippi River and were chosen by the contracting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers districts for exemplary safety records during specific contracts. Three of the awardees were dredging contractors.

The chapter encompasses work for the six districts in the Mississippi River watershed. These include the St. Paul Rock Island St. Louis Memphis Vicksburg and New Orleans Districts.  

Held in Jackson Mississippi at the Marriot Hotel the gathering attracted 120 attendees. They included about 45 Corps of Engineers personnel 60 contractors from up and down the river and 15 guests said Freddie Rush MVAGC manager.


Awardees and presenters for the Grand Encampment project safety award were from left Thomas Johnson St. Paul District Area Engineer Eastern Area Office Winona Minnesota; Steve Skau Brennan Safety Manager; Travis Sperberg Brennan Project Manager; Jonathan Kernion MVAGC president; and Col. Daniel Koprowski commander of the St. Paul Engineer District at the award ceremony for the Grand Encampment contract that performed 53000 man-hours with no reportable or lost time injury or incident.

The districts presented their selected con-tractors and contracts to the MVAGC who then chose the recipients of the 2015 Mississippi Valley Regional Safety Award and the Dan W. Renfro Partnering Award from among them. 

Awards were made at a luncheon that followed addresses by Corps district commanders and a discussion of contracting and construction issues.  

Black River Constructors JV of LaCrosse Wisconsin received the St. Paul District safety award for the Grand Encampment Island Un-loading project completed from May 2014 to August 2015. (See Dredge and Dewatering Wheel in Use for Grand Encampment Island Unloading IDR April/May 2015).

The joint venture included J.F. Brennan Company of LaCrosse who performed the dredging part of the contract and Hoffman Construction of Black River Falls Wisconsin who did the material handling. The project had an estimated 53000 man-hours over two construction seasons without a lost-time injury or recordable accident. This met the contractor’s ambitious goal of zero lost time accidents. More than 32000 estimated man-hours were conducted over the 2015 fiscal year. The contract involved removing 500000 cubic yards of material from a temporary island in Pool 4 to two upland placement sites. 


At the ceremony for Newt Marine’s award from the Rock Island District were from left Mike Edwards Rock Island Area Engineer; Marcus Murphy general manager Newt Marine Service; Jonathan Kernion president MVAGC Branch; John Bonnet Newt Marine Service; and Col. Michael Derosier Deputy Division Commander USACE Mississippi Valley Division. 

The project also had an important river safety aspect. According to Matt Binsfeld executive vice president of J.F. Brennan commercial and recreational navigation interests praised the project for using a technique that did not include a long discharge pipeline avoiding the hazards associated with crossing a navigation channel with a stationary pipe-line. Both the loading and offloading sites were outside the channel and the loaded barges moved in the channel along with other traffic.  

Newt Marine Service Dubuque Iowa received the Rock Island District award for the Pool 12 Overwintering HREP Stage 1 Sunfish Lake Illinois. The award was accepted by Mar-cus Murphy and John Bonnet.

The project involved dredging clearing tree disposal placement site preparation mate-rial transport and shaping and a rock closure structure for an overwintering habitat in Sun-fish Lake. This project involved a wide array of stakeholders including the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Fish and Wildlife Services. This project helped to reestablish a proper habitat for wildlife in the area as well as improving the grounds for recreation. Inherent to this project were significant difficulties stemming from the location and the difficulty of work. In an overly complex environment with 24-hour operations on mostly unstable ground Newt Marine Service was able to negotiate complex obstacles and safely achieve the contract objec-tives in an extremely remote site with limited space to maneuver.


Brennan’s dredge Michael pumps the sand from the stockpile 1000 feet to the high-capacity dewatering plant moored next to the island. The dewatered sand was then transported by barge 1.5 miles downriver to stockpiles at Alma Wisconsin moving as part of the river traffic.  

The Memphis District presented its safety award to Luhr Brothers LLC of Columbia Illinois for Stone Navigation Structures in the Mississippi River including Big Island Bendway Weirs. The award was accepted by Houston Castle. Luhr Brothers also received AGC’s Dan W. Renfro Partnering Award. 

The contract was a MATOC for the construction stone navigation structures in the Mississippi River. Three of five task orders were started and completed in FY15 using 5328 man-hours to place 577768 tons of various stone gradations for a total value of $10861843.82. Task Order 0004 construction of the Big Island Bendway Weirs is of particular interest as it was a priority project for MVD and the towing industry. The project presented the most severe conditions for working in the Mississippi River (high velocity currents and deep water requiring anchors) as well as a significant safety concern for the towing industry (river closure to traffic). The contractor placed 231152 tons of stone in 19 work days (12166 tons per day average) and limited exposure to 1392 man-hours. The rapid pace of stone placement required the marine plant to be in constant movement for placement and to conduct numerous daily quality assurance hydrographic surveys.

The contractor’s superior management of the river queue limited the safety impact to the towing industry. Luhr Bros. Inc. is one of the few river contractors that can safely and successfully perform this type work in these extreme river conditions. Luhr Bros. Inc. worked diligently and safely and completed the Big Island Weirs exactly as MVD presented to the stakeholders and customers. (See article on this project in IDR sister publication the Waterways Journal September 14 2015 page 36.)

The St. Louis District awarded its safety award to SAK Construction LLC O’Fallon Missouri for Old Mill Creek Sewer Project. 
The project consisted of rehabilitating a brick and limestone combined sewer originally constructed in the 1860s by completing various repairs including external chemical grouting cement grouting of voids replacement of lateral sewers repair of lateral sewer connections interior sealing of manholes reinforced concrete invert reinforced 10-inch shotcrete liners and shotcrete mortar protection. 

All work was completed while the combined sewer was in operation requiring SAK to bypass an average of 50 million gallons a day. During FY15 SAK worked more than 18000 hours and experienced no lost time injuries and this isn’t by accident. SAK Construction is very proactive in keeping not only their employees safe but also ensuring project sponsors and government inspectors are aware of the hazards which exist while trekking more than 3000 linear feet nearly 40 feet below ground.

The Vicksburg District’s nominee Hartman Walsh Painting Company of St. Louis Missouri received the 2015 division-wide 2015 Mississippi Valley Regional Safety Award for the Ouachita River Basin Blakely Mountain Power Plant Power Conduit and Lining Rehab Project. 

Ken Chism accepted the award for the project which involved rehabilitation of the power conduit coating and lining systems at Blakely Mountain Dam in Garland County Arkansas. Work was performed during a scheduled outage inside an underground 24-foot-diameter steel conduit that is the water intake for the hydro-electric power plant. The scope of work required removal of the coal tar pitch lining system and application of new coating and lining systems and associated environmental protection. Hart-man Walsh performed 19262 man-hours without a reportable accident with most of these hours performed in a confined space environment.  

The New Orleans District presented two safety awards for both small and large contracts.

Their small contractor award was to Vinson Enterprises LLC Kenner Louisiana for the Emergency Shelter at St. Mary Pumping Station No. 8. Sherman Vinson accepted the award.

The project involved construction of an emergency shelter or safe house to shelter pump station operators during hurricane events. Major definable features of work included clearing and grubbing demolition placement of compacted embankment fill installation of steel H-piling installation of pre-engineered building rein-forced structural concrete fuel tank upgrades fertilizer and sodding erosion control and other incidental work. Vinson accumulated more than 8000 man-hours during the last fiscal year with-out a recordable incident.

Conquistador-Dorado JV of Sanford Florida was the New Orleans large contractor awardee for Remediation and Improvements of 17th Street & London Avenue Outfall Canals. Fernando Neris accepted the award. 

The project involved remediation and site improvements to two major pumping station outflow canals for the metropolitan New Orleans area. Major definable features of work included clearing and grubbing debris removal placement of compacted embankment fill installation of steel sheet piling jet grouting operation for seepage prevention reinforced structural concrete traffic control on adjacent roadways and other incidental work. Conquistador-Dorado JV accumulated more than 46000 man-hours during the last fiscal year without a recordable incident.  

The MVAGC was formed in 1928 as a result of the 1927 flood which focused attention on the need to manage the river more effectively. Chapter headquarters are in Germantown Tennessee on the Mississippi River in the Memphis metropolitan area. 

Photos by Freddie Rush MVAGC. Thanks to Debbie Lindsey of the MVAGC for sending the photos and other information.