By Tom Hale
December 26, 2005
Growing by leaps and bounds. That's an apt description of St. John, a small northwestern Indiana town located about 50 minutes south of Chicago. Situated on either side of U.S. 41, St. John is experiencing a building boom with the addition of new subdivisions and other development.
In fact, St. John — with a current population of 11,000 — is growing so rapidly that it is now the second fastest growing community in Indiana, according to Town Council President Michael Fryzel. He foresees continued growth, and so does St. John's Director of Public Works Bob Pharazyn.
"When I started work with the town six years ago, we had approximately 8,000 people, and now that total is at 11,000," Pharazyn says. "The community just keeps growing — there are about 400 new housing units a year. It seems like the town is growing by 1,000 people per year, and in five years our population will probably reach 16,000 to 17,000. St. John is just very attractive to people wanting to move over from Illinois."
To accommodate the explosion of growth, the town of St. John is aggressively upgrading its existing facilities and improving its water/sewer infrastructure.
"Things are hopping," Pharazyn says. "We currently have about $14 million in improvements going on. This is a pretty aggressive construction plan for St. John, or for any community — doing everything we are doing in such a short period of time. But we have a very proactive council, and we all felt that economically the time was right — especially as good as the housing industry is going right now."
St. John's municipal construction project includes the construction of a new public works facility, remodeling/expansion of the town hall, and construction of a new public safety facility for police and fire departments. St. John is expanding the water treatment plant — doubling the capacity from 1,000 gallons per minute to about 2,100 gpm and is improving its pump/lift station control system. And in a unique, two-phase project, St. John recently increased the height of its two water towers 35 feet — from 105 feet to 140 feet — to significantly increase water pressure throughout the town.
Lifting The Tanks
To lift its two elevated water tanks — the 1-millon-gallon, five-year-old Kilkenny water tank on the west side of town and the 500,000-gallon, 27-year-old water tank on the east side, on Hack Street - St. John enlisted the expertise of Pittsburg Tank Elevated Division. Pittsburg utilized Central Rent-A-Crane Inc., an ALL Family company, to supply the lifting equipment.
Headquartered in Henderson, Ky., Pittsburg Tank & Tower Co. Inc. is one of North America's leading, full-service suppliers of field-erected tanks and maintenance services. The company, which originated in Pittsburg, Kan., in 1919, provides engineered and structured services for municipal water storage and industrial water and fuel storage facilities. Pittsburg Tank & Tower Co.'s Elevated Division, located in Sebree, Ky., handles a variety of elevated projects in various shapes — double ellipsoidal, elevated toro, sphere, ped-cone, fluted pillar, and composite.
The ALL Family of Companies has grown to become one of the largest crane and equipment rental companies. Through its many locations in the U.S. and Canada — including Central Rent-A-Crane Inc., based in Hammond, Ind. — ALL provides rental, sales, service, and jobsite analysis.
On The Job
The first phase of the tower-raising project — lifting the Kilkenny tank — took place on Oct. 1, and was completed in just one day. Pittsburg Elevated started work at 5 a.m., lifted the sphere-shaped structure by 9:30 a.m., inserted the riser section at 1 p.m., and finalized the welding by 6 p.m.
"We used three 2250s (Manitowoc 2250 Series 3), which are 300-ton lattice machines, to lift the water sphere," says William Collins, field superintendent for Pittsburg Elevated. "The sphere weighed 425,000 pounds. We picked it up 60 to 65 feet; then we took a 210-ton crane (a GMK 5210 all-terrain crane) and inserted a round stem (a 35-foot-long stem weighing 91,000 pounds) under the sphere. Then, we lowered the ball and the short piece of stem back into position."
While Pittsburg Elevated faced the challenge of raising the massive water sphere, Central Rent-A-Crane had the responsibility of coordinating the delivering and arrival of the three Manitowoc 2250s to the site.
"It was a unique process — it required us getting the cranes on site and assembling them basically for a one-day pick; then disassembling the cranes and getting them back out on the road for use on other projects," says Ed Kocsis, general manager for Central Rent-A-Crane. "There are not many companies in North America capable of doing that. One crane came in from Buffalo, one came in from Pittsburgh, and the other came in from West Virginia. We assembled them, disassembled them, and then they went to three different points from there."
Central Rent-A-Crane, with help from ALL Family sister company Dawes Rigging & Crane Rental Inc., supplied two 500-ton Demag AC-1300 hydraulic cranes and a 22-ton Grove rough-terrain crane for phase two of the project — the water tank on Hack Street. "Our company's (The All Family) flexibility is really what allows us to do projects like this," Kocsis says.
Lifting the Hack Street water tank — a 500,000-gallon elevated toro weighing 250,000 pounds — took place on Oct. 26. Once the rigging was in place, Pittsburg Elevated directed the two Demag cranes to raise the tank about 40 feet. Then, the rough-terrain crane assisted in inserting the legs and risers, and Pittsburg's crew gently set the structure back on its new leg extensions.
According to Collins, the main challenge in lifting a water tank is logistics — building mats and getting cranes to their proper spots, and making sure that the cranes pick in unison. "The structure work is not too difficult for us," he says. "We go through strict engineering calculations and load calculations on the existing foundations to make sure that they can take the additional seismic load and handle wind shear. We go through the process thoroughly."
Pittsburg Elevated Division typically does projects like the one in St. John at least four to five times a year. "We are one of the few companies in the country that will even tackle a project like this one," says Collins. "And there really isn't any company any better at it than us."
Collins says St. John residents will certainly notice an increase in water pressure as a result of the taller water towers. "We raised the existing tanks 35 feet to increase the water pressure," he says. "For every 2.5 feet you raise a water container, you gain a pound of water pressure. So, each of the tanks is going to give the town another 15 pounds of water pressure which they need to push over some of the hills in this area."
Pittsburg Elevated worked closely with St. John and the town's consulting engineer, Robinson Engineering Ltd., South Holland, Ill., to make the intricate, tower-raising project a reality. "It definitely was a team effort," says Alex Monanteras, president of St. John's Sanitary/Waterworks District.
St. John examined many different options before deciding to increase the height of the towers. Options included the possibility of adding a booster pump station or raising the Kilkenny water tower, notes Tom Nagle, P.E., senior engineer for Robinson Engineering.
In the end, however, it was decided that lifting the tanks would best serve St. John's present needs and allow for future growth. "It was the best long-term solution," Monanteras says.
Future plans call for the construction of another 1-million-gallon water tower in St. John. It would be built in a few years on the town's southeast side in conjunction with The Gates of St. John — one of the largest subdivisions ever to come to town. As part of an annexation agreement, points out Monanteras, the developer will be responsible for construction of a well, a water filtration system, and the new tank.