Salem Creek Restoration Moves Along Despite Wet Conditions

July 1, 2004
Excessive snowfall was never expected to be a problem for the Civitan Park/Salem Creek restoration project in Winston-Salem, NC. Above-average snowfall and an uncharacteristically wet year, however, were uncontrollable facts of life for North State Environmental Inc., the Winston-Salem-based contractor undertaking this erosion control and restoration project. Regardless of the conditions dealt by nature, the company controlled its uptime and minimized damage to the site through its choice of haulage solutions designed for just this environment, ensuring on-time completion of the project.From Landfill to Wetlands
Snowy conditions complicated work on North Carolina’s Civitan Park/Salem Creek restoration project.
Tracked vehicles exert less ground pressure and thus can maneuver more easily and more precisely in muddy conditions.
Founded in 1994 by Darrell Westmoreland and his wife, Stephanie, North State Environmental is a company dedicated to repairing and restoring North Carolina’s urban and rural streams and rivers. This includes wetland mitigation, erosion control, bioretention cell construction, bioengineering, and reforestation. “It’s the quality of work we do and our understanding of the streams, wetlands, and the technology that sets us apart,” says Westmoreland. The Civitan Park/Salem Creek restoration project is one of the larger jobs undertaken by North State Environmental in its history. Over the course of three months, the company worked to accomplish a number of tasks: cleaning up the severely polluted Salem Creek, stabilizing its shores, and turning a former landfill adjacent to the creek into a living, breathing wetlands.“We’re basically taking a city landfill, a former city demolition dump,” describes Westmoreland, “and excavating 41,000 yards of debris-concrete, brick, block-whatever the City threw out when it tore down houses and buildings. It was at one time a wetlands and it was destroyed. Now, we’re going to excavate it, remove the materials, fine-grade the land, and plant vegetation and put the water in.”The eight-acre wetland restoration includes 16 rock vanes, rock toe benches, and soil fabric lifts. The 3,000-foot restoration and stabilization of Salem Creek includes over 100,000 square yards of earthwork on the creek’s main channel. With the massive amount of excavation, and the added trouble of excess precipitation, removing the existing dirt and material was a challenge.Treading Lightly“One of the biggest challenges on this project is access,” says Westmoreland. “We’re working in floodplains where the water level is usually pretty high. We’re digging down into the water table. That’s where the crawler carriers really come into play. These ‘tracked trucks’ are the most successful (compared to rubber-tired rigid and articulated trucks) because they can really get down into the mud.”The “tracked trucks” Westmoreland mentions are the CD60 and CD110 manufactured by Komatsu America Corporation. Designed for treacherous applications that require low ground pressure, they have 360° rotation capability. Conrad Graham of Mitchell Distributing Company helped North State Environmental make the decision to add the crawler carriers to its fleet.North State Environmental has a diverse customer base; the company works with large and small organizations ranging from city governments to the Natural Resources Conservation Service and North Carolina’s universities to mitigation groups. Because of the breadth of projects it handles, it encounters varying ground conditions from site to site. On a typical day, the company uses an equipment fleet of crawler carriers, excavators, track loaders, dozers, skid-steers, and dump trucks to work through water, mud, clay, and sand.
“Before we bought the machines, we were doing stream work during the wintertime. It has been an especially wet year, and every articulated truck we tried wound up getting stuck,” explains Westmoreland. “Mitchell brought in the two Komatsu tracked trucks and they were able to work in the conditions, which allowed us to move around all the time. I finally decided to buy one and instantly loved it.”Both machines are used in North State Environmental’s daily operations and are regarded as the workhorses of its fleet and a crucial piece of equipment in the restoration of Salem Creek. According to Westmoreland, the feature that sets the machines apart from others is the ability to rotate completely on its base. This allows the machine to pull forward to the dumpsite, rotate, dump its payload, and pull away in the opposite direction. This allows forward-facing operations at all times-including work in tight, confined areas-eliminating the need for U-turns. Having this cuts down on maneuvering time when it’s time to dump the payload, and reduces damage to the environmentally fragile site. It also allows the operator to have a clear view of his surroundings at all times, which includes the ability to make constant visual contact with the loader operator.“We are working on steep banks a lot of the time, so the 360° turn is nice because we’re able to go down and turn the body to whatever direction we need to dump, rather than spin the entire machine on that type of incline,” explains Westmoreland. “The operator can maneuver the bed into any position he wants without ever having to move the tracks (reducing damage to the site).”Weighing 18,740 lb, the CD60 has an output of 133 hp and a low ground pressure of 3 psi (unloaded). The CD110 has an operating weight of 39,460 lb, an output of 266 hp, and a ground pressure of 4 psi (unloaded). The low ground pressures allow Westmoreland to operate the machines in muddy conditions where rubber-tired trucks in his fleet might get stuck or rut up the job site. North State Environmental is taking an active role in helping restore America’s richest asset-the environment. With the two crawler carriers working hard to restore Salem Creek and the adjacent eight acres of wetlands, North State Environmental doesn’t have to worry about where the machines can or can’t work. “There is definitely a need for these machines in this industry because you’re going to be able to go a lot of places you couldn’t before,” says Westmoreland. “The bottom line is you’re either working or you’re not. We choose to work.”