North Dakota State University (NDSU) is in a constant state of renewal and reconstruction, identifying segments of infrastructure each year that are due for an update.
In 2019, NDSU identified its HR and AR parking lots as two lots that had reached the end of their life cycles and were no longer providing reliable service. Additionally, a new Residence Life Hall wass being completed, which would significantly depend on these lots for parking.
NDSU retained HEI to lead the reconstruction of these two lots. HEI led preliminary and final designs for the parking lots, which included site grading, paving, lighting, drainage, and more. Additionally, HEI provided construction observation and administration for the two lots.
Rainy Days of Summer
The summer of 2019 was no stranger to rain, especially in Fargo, ND. Precipitation was more than 3 inches above average throughout the F-M Area, making gardens plentiful but construction deadlines difficult to meet. This, combined with NDSU's short summer break, meant that pouring the HR and AR parking lots just west of the newly constructed Catherine Cater Hall was a race against the clock.
The Complications of Parking Lots
Reconstructing a parking lot is much more complex than just pouring concrete. Previous parking lot materials, handicap accessibility, underground utilities, lighting, signage, and so much more all had to be accounted for.
Making this project even more complicated was the elevation difference between the previous parking lots and the brand new student housing. Up to 3 feet of variance existed, meaning handicap accessibility would be impossible without major design accommodations and meticulous attention to detail.
HEI and all additional partners went above and beyond to meet these design issues and the tight timeline. Regular meetings with the contractor and NDSU staff were held throughout the project to keep communication open and tasks on schedule.
New Technology Used to Speed Up Pours
At the same time, a brand new laser screeding technology was implemented during pouring to lessen manhours and speed up the process. This remote machine sent vibrations into the concrete as it swept over the surface, getting rid of air pockets and leveling the lot to an incredible accuracy. In addition to accuracy, this also meant that a 60-foot wide by 360-foot long stretch could be poured in 8-9 hours with less workers compared to the by-hand alternative, which would be much more labor intensive.
In total, more than 500 truckloads hauled enough concrete to cover 26,000 square yards to a depth of 6 inches, all within 1 month of on and off rain. The project was completed two weeks prior to NDSU's fall 2019 move-in date for an estimated $1.8 million.
The two new lots currently provide nearly 800 parking spaces for the 440 residences in Cater Hall and the surrounding buildings, while also providing overflow for Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks baseball games during the summer months, which take place just across the street.
The project earned ND Ready Mix's Gold Star Award in the Educational/Institutional Category in 2019
(see page 7).