Design-Build Momentum Continues in Georgia

Construction wrapped up in the spring on the East Hiram Sewer Improvements, a progressive design-build partnership for Paulding County, Georgia.

The improvements — a 700-GPM lift station, 17,500 LF of gravity sewer, 13,000 LF of force main and more — took just two years from the start of design to finish of construction. The project illustrates key benefits of design-build for growing communities needing rapid water infrastructure expansion: It was completed on time on an aggressive schedule and under budget.

Meeting the County’s deadline was essential because sanitary sewer service was needed for the new headquarters of GreyStone Power, a major provider in Paulding and surrounding counties. The DB approach helped make that possible.

The project is among several DB collaborations between Freese and Nichols and contractor John D. Stephens, Inc., which also is handling construction on a new pump station and diversion line serving Fulton and Cobb counties.

Clients increasingly consider collaborative delivery approaches attractive options for their efficiency and cost control. When design-build is the appropriate choice, it allows for construction to start during final design, offers more schedule and budget reliability and lets the project owner make decisions about best value for the money.

Freese and Nichols’ growing portfolio of DB projects allows our teams to apply current skills and expertise to new or different project approaches. This helps drive innovative practices and models our values, including Learn Continuously and Deliver Quality.

The Georgia projects show how DB can serve client needs:

East Hiram Sewer Improvements

The new sanitary sewer system will serve future developments in East Hiram along with GreyStone Power’s new solar power generation operations facility.

The project presented several challenges:

  • Continuous coordination with the Georgia Department of Transportation was need because 1 mile of the gravity sewer parallels Highway 92, which was being expanded during the sewer project construction.
  • The pipeline travels through more than 8,000 linear feet of forested wetlands and floodplains along Lick Log and Mill Creek, all within private property, so easements and specific permits were required. The team worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to adjust alignments along the edge of delineated wetlands, then used excavated material as fill, which helped restore the wetlands to their natural vegetated state and minimized wetland impacts.
  • During the course of the project, Paulding County added approximately 3,000 LF of 12-inch gravity sewer and service laterals to the scope of work.

Paulding County’s Project Manager gave the DB team “an exceptional rating for timeliness, quality and cost effectiveness.”

Fulton-Cobb Diversion Line and Pump Station

Under a DB contract, Freese and Nichols provided design and construction phase services for a new 10-MGD pump station and associated 24- and 30-inch pipeline to provide additional capacity during the expansion of Fulton County’s Big Creek Water Reclamation Facility.

Significant challenges included:

  • The 6-mile pipeline crosses the Chattahoochee River twice and traverses National Park Service property and three municipality jurisdictions.
  • With numerous stakeholders, permitting and agency coordination involved more than 30 federal, state, private and local entities. The design-build approach allowed both designers and the contractor to start meeting with permitting staff early in the project and quickly answer questions about project details.
  • Multiple segments of trenchless installation via horizontal directional drilling (HDD) had to be carefully planned and executed to reduce environmental impacts.

“For the Big Creek Diversion project, Fulton County chose the design-build delivery approach because we needed to get the diversion line and pump station in operation as quickly as possible to reduce the flow volume coming into the Big Creek treatment during its expansion,” said Fulton County Public Works Director David Clark.

During construction, Freese and Nichols worked with the DB contractor and county operations staff to identify critical path components, actively tracking construction phase changes and documentation to keep the project moving even when unforeseen obstacles arose. Design-build helped streamline change management and allow the team to pivot when needed. For instance, when delays arose in getting certain easements, the team shifted its focus to other parts of the pipeline instead of having to interrupt the work.

Design-build coordination also allowed the team to finish the pump station on schedule even though an unexpected equipment change was requested to meet operation needs. Pipeline construction is scheduled to be completed in September.

Our growing number of DB collaborations with JDS illustrates a key element of our philosophy: the importance of cultivating long-term relationships with clients and business partners. Freese and Nichols Vice President Lee Freese forged a decades-long connection with company namesake John D. Stephens that expanded from Texas projects into Georgia, leading to opportunities for success in new delivery approaches.