At the beginning of every Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) construction job, a third-party organization brings in the owner representative and the contractor for mandatory team-building exercises. The meeting also includes the chance for both sides to communicate their goals, concerns and priorities.
Sometimes the parties involved look at the meeting as little more than a mandatory box to check before the work can really begin.
For others, the meeting is a great jumping off point, building the foundation of trust, communication and support between two parties that will be working closely by each other to make sure a project is done — and done right.
The second scenario was what happened when Geneva Rock’s north area team began work on the reconstruction and expansion of SR-37 from Ogden, Utah, to West Haven, Utah.
“You have these partnerships and sometimes people don’t use them like they could to build trust and relationships,” says Mike Westbroek, north area construction manager for Geneva Rock. “Fortunately, for me on my side of things, we were working with people who wanted to come together and do what we could to have a good relationship.”
Those partners interested in having a great relationship were led specifically by Deryl Mayhew, resident engineer for UDOT on the project and a principal engineer with Horrocks Engineers in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
“The meeting is four or five hours long and covers all of the potential concerns we see from our respective sides of the project,” Deryl says. “The exercises help us break down barriers that keep us from being upfront with each other. Both sides have their agendas. This is a chance to work through those, have open communication, and then begin working on what we need to do to get the job done and the job done right.”
The meeting allowed Mike and Deryl to set mutually agreed upon goals and then begin work toward achieving those goals. The goals would be evaluated and adjusted weekly.
“Now, Mike knows what is important to me and vice versa,” Deryl says.
The SR-37 expansion — scheduled to be concluded in November 2017 — is a com-plicated project that includes full demolition of the existing segments and widening from a two-lane road to a five-lane road with improved safety considerations for cyclists and pedestrians, including curb and gutter construction. Geneva Rock also improved utilities, including water flow in the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.
“This isn’t just about making the road wider,” Deryl says. “This is a safety improvement project as well. There is more room for bikers and better options for pedestrians.”
The expansion is part of UDOT’s efforts to stay ahead of growth on the west side of northern Utah, specifically in west Davis County.
Anytime crews dig areas that have been used for years, unexpected challenges arise — and it was the case with this project, too. For example, connecting water lines weren’t in the expected condition.
“We had some loops we had to do on some water lines,” Mike says. “We got in there, and there were misses and conflicts that were making it so we were unable to build them as designed.”
Mike quickly communicated with Deryl and leaders from all affected parties — including city leaders, water users and construction crews — who then worked together to solve the problem without major delays to the project.
“One of the biggest things those on the owner’s side can do to help a contractor is to be efficient on the review process side of things,” Deryl says. “One of my commitments for the project is that I’m not taking the full amount of time allotted just because I can. We are thorough, but work as quickly as we can to get the answer to the contractor.”
The partnership between Horrocks and Geneva extended beyond the project managers. The on-site field engineer from Horrocks, Scott Olson, and Geneva Rock’s superintendent Casey Harris, worked side-by-side daily, keeping the project working smoothly and understanding everyone’s perspective.
“I could talk about this project all day long and the good things about it,” Deryl says. “We work together to make sure we’re being judicious in our resources and getting the best work done possible. That’s what makes a great partnership.”