Elwha Project Earns Watts-DelHur JV Grand Award for Construction Excellence

One year ahead of schedule with a perfect safety record and at considerable savings for the owner – an extraordinary accomplishment by Watts-DelHur Joint Venture on a project involving the National Park Service’s largest contract to date ($71.5 million). Another extraordinary accomplishment: Watts-DelHur Joint Venture received the 2011 AGC Build Washington Grand Award for Construction. URS was lead engineer on the project.

The Elwha Water Facilities project is one of the last steps required before the two dams on the Elwha River are removed and the restoration of the Elwha River’s ecosystem begins. The project is vital as it will protect water users from the century-long accumulation of sand gravel and rocks that will flow downstream upon removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams.width=250

This was four projects consolidated into one: the Elwha River Levee improvements the Elwha Surface Water Intake the Elwha Water Treatment Plant and the Crown Z Road improvements. All four were constructed simultaneously while construction of a bridge over the Elwha River limited access to the site.

Watts-DelHur successfully diverted the Elwha River to a temporary diversion channel. This allowed the project team to complete what was expected to be three seasons of in-water work in only one. All upstream and downstream movement of native species remained unencumbered and when construction work was complete the river was restored to its original channel in time for the regular migratory season.

In order to complete the in-river work in only one season Watts-DelHur employed value engineering techniques for several parts of the project. Most critical was the substitution of precast concrete panels (cast on site) in place of the prescribed steel sheet piles (specified by contract to be made of COR-TEN steel) that would not have been available until the second season at best.

Watts-DelHur worked non-stop around-the-clock for 80 days to ensure that the in-river work would be completed on time. The joint venture self-performed 88 percent of the work on the project and its workforce in combination with subcontractor crews logged 375000 man-hours over 26 months with zero time-loss accidents.

Additionally 90 percent of the craft workers were local hires providing a tremendous positive impact on the depressed local economy. Because of the early delivery of the project the National Park Service was able to accelerate by a year its program for restoration of the Elwha River ultimately returning the river to its natural free-flowing state.